Tuesday, May 31


"The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from."

Standards can be a blessing, or a curse, or both. They are an outgrowth of a kind of problem that occurs when dealing with people.

Basically: when dealing with people you need some things which do not change so that you can deal with the "important stuff" (which itself varies depending on who and what you are dealing with). And  "standards" are the stuff that is held still.

Put differently: standards are useful at the interfaces between where one person is doing work and another person is doing work.

Also: standards that have been "designed" tend to be rather useless - what you want are standards which have evolved for dealing with problems similar to what you are dealing with. (Sometimes this includes "designed standards" but usually when that happens only a small part of the design is relevant. Or, at least, that has been my experience in the context of computing. This says something sad about the usefulness of a lot of people hours. But it also says something about how you should expect to be working if you want to get something useful done.)

Meanwhile: discussions about standards can become rather acrimonious. In my experience, this tends to be a mix of personality flaws in people holding the discussions and irrelevant wasted motion in the standards themselves.

Related is probably the cliche'd concept of "if you want something done right, you'll need to do it yourself" and its close [imperative] relative "take some responsibility". People tend to be frustrating to deal with, but that is often as much a fault of the person getting frustrated as it is a fault of the people they are getting frustrated with. Remedies which ignore either side of this kind of problem tend to fail.

It's often best to try to fail early so you can learn from your mistakes. But ...

War and China

The top 15 most populated countries on the planet are:

1) China
2) India
3) United States
4) Indonesia
5) Brazil
6) Pakistan
7) Nigeria
8) Bangladesh
9) Russia
10) Japan
11) Mexico
12) Philippines
13) Ethiopia
14) Vietnam
15) Egypt

Most computer hardware is made by China - the laws, regulations and traditions of the other countries are structured to favor this process.

Meanwhile, though, it seems to be extraordinarily difficult to get certain kinds of information out of China. We have a general idea of the size of its population (between 1.3 billion and 1.4 billion). We have a general idea of the life expectancy of this population (about 75 years), but it's difficult to get information about causes of death. Actually, it's difficult to get much of any good information out of China. I sometimes wonder if Chinese officials even know. But if we assume that these numbers are correct, we should expect that about 18 million Chinese die every year.

But what is killing them?

Historically speaking, we see a lot of disease coming out of China. I seem to recall reading reports that our annual flu epidemics originate in China (though I have also read about some coming from India). But, also, apparently the bubonic plague originated there. This kind of thinking leads me to speculate a lot about the nature of Chinese philosophy and morals.

But this also leads me to speculate a lot about my own background as a "computer professional". Seriously, what good have my efforts done for anyone?

Not much, I'm afraid...

But why did I write this?

Well... the USA loses tens of thousands of people each year to the flu. Japan (which has better overall health care than the USA - life expectancy is longer in Japan) loses hundreds of thousands of people each year to the flu. And, once upon a time, I remember hearing that flu typically comes from China (we get a new version each year). But I have a vague memory that maybe it sometimes comes from India. But when I try looking that up, on the internet? I can't find any discussions of the topic.

This suggests, if nothing else, that we do not have free speech on the internet. We have free bs, but that is not quite the same thing. For something this big to be hushed up - hundreds of thousands of deaths each year in one country - millions each year when you extrapolate that to other countries (and who knows how bad it is at the source) to be a topic which there is not available information on - there have to be active efforts going on to distract people from the topic.

Perhaps fear of war (where, also, most of the deaths historically have been through disease but I'm not sure that the deaths have ever been on this scale as a sustained thing  - something like WWII probably this flu death rate for the five years it ran, but without actual numbers for flu mortality rates even that is a guess which might not be true).

Anyways: if this kind of thing is "not war" that can only be because this kind of thing is "worse than war".

Meanwhile, most all fundamental computer fabrication has been moved to China. The reasons for this are involved, but it's not entirely unrelated.