The modern view of human endeavor may be summarized in many ways, as many as there are modern thinkers perhaps. Here is more of my view of what went wrong in post-modern thinking.

This is a fairly long essay about many areas where I feel mankind has messed up opportunities unlikely to present themselves again. The reader interested in my opinions in just one area (assuming there are any interested at all) may jump directly to the sections on hifi, computers, sports, my work, space travel, politics, common themes, or my recommendations.
     The human journey of achievement may be summarized as a series of steps or stages, doorways from one thinking environment to the next.

     Thomas Kuhn explained science that way. Rather than a continuous and monotonic search for truth, he suggested that science was a sequence of paradigms, a word he later grew to detest in its popularization, each of which required revising not only the answers but the very questions being asked. (I was privileged enough to be in a college lecture hall with Thomas Kuhn.)

     The post-modern view of human endeavor seems to be the appearance of achievement, using the language of those who achieve without their intellectual investment. I'm not sure they're deliberately deceitful or themselves deceived by their own quest for membership. Part of the post-modern "mystique" is this ambiguity between charlatanism and hypocrisy.

     Unfortunately, the quest for knowledge is a fragile thing. The kinds of achievement that make it possible for so many of us to live well on this planet [1] requires a social and legal infrastructure that takes decades, even centuries, to build. Most of that infrastructure has eroded in the last few decades, at least here in the United States where that quest has been most successful in the past century and a half.

     Without trying to analyze the whys and wherefores, I would like to explore my favorite doorways that seem to have slammed shut, all about the same time. Maybe it is just a coincidence that all these areas of human endeavor just happened to reach their limits around the same time. Or, maybe, something has happened to us that we have stopped looking for the next doorway.




     I first experienced the sequence of doorways in my pursuit of hifi. My freshman year I had the then-standard college stereo of a record player, receiver, and bookshelf speakers. The one exception is that I had a handed-down turntable that did not have a tonearm, so I built one out of Lego blocks (really!), left handed to accommodate my own left handedness. There was a clear path to better hifi in my world, bigger speakers with more bass and bigger receivers with more power. There were notions of better frequency response in speakers and lower distortion in amplifiers, but that was it.

     Then I walked into my first high-end audio store, Music and Sound Limited when it was in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. There was a room of pro gear, huge multi-channel mixers and stuff like that, and then a room of amazing consumer gear. The Magnaplaner speakers dominated the room along with a rack of enormous amplifiers and elegant preamplifiers and a few turntables including the Linn Sondek LP-12. Larry who worked there introduced himself and played a familiar record, Supertramp's "Crime of the Century," on the Linn, Audio Research, and Magnaplaner speakers.

     The sound was more: more bass, more treble, more balance, more clarity. The sound was also better. But there was something qualitatively different about it, off the clear path of better college hifi or anything I had heard in the suburban living rooms of my youth. Even this multi-miked, mixed-down, processed, homogenized recording took on life and shape when played on this wonderful machinery. The most noticeable change for me was imaging, that each participant in the recorded music took its place with size and shape in the space between the speakers. From this and some more-natural recordings, I learned that stereo was something beyond left, middle, and right.

     I had passed through a doorway from one level of hifi to the next, from college stereo to high-end audio.

     I learned through listening that preamplifiers and amplifiers sounded different and those differences were often more important to music reproduction than speaker differences. Even turntables make a difference, far more than steady and accurate speed and the absence of rumble. At that time tubes were the king of audio electronics.

     Mark Levinson's HQD (Hartley-Decca-Quad) system, which I heard in Philadelphia, gave the best tube systems a run for their money and John Iverson's Electro Research electronics, along with Andy Rappaport's line at the same time, ended the reign of tubes. I passed through another doorway into their world.

     My Lego tonearm evolved into Erector Set (no kidding) and eventually became the LOCI tonearm. Becoming a manufacturer was another doorway for me.

     A couple of years later I discovered tape, the reel-to-reel variety, in a half-track deck (38 cm/sec, 15 inches per second) and a pair of decent microphones. The ability of my own recordings to resolve the fabric of a musical event in intonation, timbre, time, and space was yet another doorway.

     In doing my own recording I learned to appreciate what is fundamentally wrong with our music-production culture. I associate it with Les Paul, the process of recording music geared to creating something totally unlike what anybody would hear in live music. The studio becomes the music venue and big rock bands like Supertramp and Pink Floyd give concerts where they reproduce note-for-note and line-for-line what they put on their records. The music is multitrack recorded and mixed down to stereo in "pan-pot mono" where each track is placed along a linear path between left and right speakers. My recordings preserve a sense of space, the hifi-weenie term is image.

     While I have heard one or two audio improvements in the last twenty years, and had one honest revelation in hearing the circa-1958 Weathers turntable (mono-only, too bad), there have been no new doorways during that time. I believe I have reached the end of the audio journey.

     There is a community that has decided through self-deception or charlatanism, to pursue something other than musical honesty. These are the tube weenies with the single-ended triode crowd at the extreme end. These people use the same words we used, jargon without meaning, form without substance, membership in our society without investment of effort. If they were genuinely interested in pursuing something else, then they would have different words and different methods. These new-age, post-modern audiophiles want very much to be accepted into our fold and ultimately to replace us with themselves and to make us the outsiders.

     The dilution has become so ingrained into the high-end audio community, that I find most audio-club gatherings not much fun. (The Atlanta Audio Society was a welcome exception while I lived in their territory.) I have to wade through a crowd of look-real audiophiles using our jargon to mean something different and less trying to find somebody seriously interested in what audio is really about. In the meantime the most fundamental core technology of audio, reel to reel tape, has disappeared as the last manufacturer of analogue audio tape has left the marketplace.

     Part of me wishes I could believe the delusion and have as much fun pursuing tube-amplified digital sources as I had when "real" audio was popular. I suspect most of today's look-real audiophiles are having fun at it and have no idea there is a doorway behind them to the next level.



     I have been singularly privileged in the realm of computers. My high school had teletype access (110 baud telephone link) to a mini-computer running the BASIC language, Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instructional Code. Our teachers were excited about the new technology and there was a community of enthusiastic students. Some of us were enthusiastic enough to pester local colleges and business to let us program their computers that ran FORTRAN programs from punched cards.

     My two computer courses in college and graduate school were taught by Forman Acton and Jim Wilkinson who had been computing since the earliest days. They were not only giants themselves but had kept company with even-greater giants like John von Neumann and Alan Turing. I learned that there were fundamentals of numerical calculation that often involved seeing the same bits and bytes of a computer in dramatically different ways to make the best use of them. I went through the doorway that separated arithmetic, vector and array solutions, from solving equations in a numerically efficient way.

     When I built my first large computer program to simulate thousands of cellular-telephone calls on hundreds of radio coverage areas called "cells," I learned to model a system by breaking it down not only into component processes but also into component data primitives and their attributes. A cellular telephone system has cells, antennas, radio channels, and calls which became my simulation program primitives in my framework. Each of these has descriptive features, attributes in my framework, such as a cell's latitude, longitude, and tower height. Managing the dimensions of a collection of primitives in a computer program such as my simulation was yet another doorway in my computing journey.

     For two decades since then I have applied my considerable (and immodest) skill to computational challenges in many industries. While I have made a lot of people a lot of money, there have been no new doorways during that time. I believe I have reached the end of the computing journey.

     There is a community of computer "scientists," more like religious scientologists, in an active, energetic search for new and different ways to program computers. It is easy to confuse their enthusiasm with a desire to write better programs and to solve problems better, but it isn't. In fact, when their ideas become accepted by the programming community and lose their pioneering identity, these academic types come up with something even further out as their newer and more different holy grail.

     Gatherings of computer types fall into two classes. The first is the Object Oriented crowd who have Object Oriented Analysis through Objected Oriented Zoology, A-through-Z, in their Object Oriented studies. The second are people who love having new and different technologies with bigger numbers of megabytes and gigahertz but never seem to connect any of that with finding better answers to the difficult and wonderful problems computers were invented to solve.

     We are figuring out that Object Oriented isn't all that useful and, with a little luck and some effort, the computing community may figure out that Object Oriented does more harm than good. There seem to be no new doorways and nothing is more abhorrent to high-technology gurus than admitting that yesterday's way of doing things is better than what they're doing now. I believe we have reached the end of the computing journey.

     Part of me wishes I could believe the delusion and have as much fun instantiating objects, developing classes, managing program-data memory, writing polymorphic functions, and overloading operators as I had when real programmers were solving hard problems. I suspect most of today's look-real programmers are having fun at it and have no idea there is a doorway behind them to the next level.



     As a teenager I started running on the beach because it seemed like something fun and challenging to do. Soon I could run a mile, all the way to the yellow house and back, and even two miles. It was a social activity if I ran with somebody and I found I enjoyed the solitude of an ocean sunrise as I made my way along the tide. Once or twice my bright red hair was a target for seagulls, a scene from Alfred Hitchcock, but otherwise I was left alone to enjoy the mornings.

     A friend exposed me to cross country [2], a three mile race in the woods or a park where a bunch of guys from two high schools would score their first five runners by place and the team with the low score wins, "just like golf." (I can think of no other similarity as golf and cross country are about as unlike each other as two sports can be, but they always add "just like golf" when describing cross country scoring as if there were no other sport where a low score wins.)

     I went through two doorways that summer. First was being part of an interscholastic athletic team and second was training for a running race. My view of sport was changed in many ways, mostly in that I was now part of it. I have been a "jock" for a third of a century.

     My freshman year in college I was left in the dust by the cross country team that had five runners under 25:00 for five miles [3]. A friend introduced me to the marathon and its associated world of road racing. I became a morning runner, doing my thirteen miles before breakfast. "Early to rise, early to bed, makes a man healthy and socially dead." Somehow I managed to keep a social life in college, but it wasn't late at night.

     The marathon for me was a competitive event, no longer against other runners but against the clock, a new doorway for me. After an auspicious 3:12 initial effort I felt a 2:50 marathon was within my grasp. My ultimate marathon effort is 3:03:30 and I'm pleased with that. I'm also pleased I'm still running marathons thirty years later [4].

     There are doorways beyond my reach, or, perhaps, beyond where I choose to reach. There have always been ultra-marathon races, further than the 26.2-mile (42.2-Km) standard marathon. Around 1978 a bunch of guys decided to come up with a super-ultimate event called the Ironman, 2.5-mile (4 Km) swim, 112-mile (180 Km) bicycle ride, and 26.2-mile (42.2 Km) run which evolved into an entire sport and community of triathlon complete with Olympic representation. These are wonderful sports upon which I gaze with intrigue and fascination, but of which I have no true desire to partake.

     There is a growing dark side of sport, the so-called fitness movement, that has, in my never-too-humble opinion, missed the point. There are two points to sport, again in my opinion, athletic achievement is one and positive experience and growth are the other. Other benefits are gravy, nice but not the point.

     Gina Kolata's book Ultimate Fitness embodies this fitness-mania viewpoint and is even kind enough to summarize it with the three reasons for physical fitness, improving health, looking better, and feeling good. These are all worthy side-effects of sport, but they are not its raison d'etre. When I run past a gym with its rows of huffing-and-puffing "cardio" trainers on treadmills watching television with glassy eyes, I feel sorry for them somehow. The latest trend, extolled in this book, is Spinning, where a group of people peddling stationary cycles are whipped into shape by an instructor.

     Whatever happened to the Olympic goals Citius, Altius, Fortius?

     The improving health argument for sport is the easiest to dispel. The most positive assertion I can recall for physical fitness is prolongation of life roughly equal to time spent exercising. Think about this for a second: You can live sixty pleasant years or you can add ten years doing something you hate for a total of seventy years. When I first made this case, in 1977, I pointed out that the prospective exerciser would be giving up ten years of youth for ten years of old age and ten years in the twentieth century for ten years in the twenty-first, a gloomy prospect at best. (I see nothing to indicate the middle third of this century is going to reverse the steep, steady decline. The case for giving up time in the present for time in the future is indeed weak.)

     Improving appearance is subjective, of course, but there has to be a cheaper, easier way to become attractive than hours of aerobic effort. I suspect intelligent diet (not Atkins) and some resistance training (lifting weights) will get most people a healthy-looking body without all the work.

     The final argument for sport is feeling good. Does training feel good? Well, yes, most of the time, but there are workouts that are survived rather than savored and there are drugs that do a much better job of making people feel good than exercise can. Does racing feel good? I can remember a moment or two during a race that felt good but racing, for the most part, is a ritual of achievement, satisfaction, and soul purification through genuine challenge and discomfort, a lot of pain.

     This feel-good argument touches on a hot button for me as I have heard, over and over again, how important it is do make somebody who is doing poorly not feel too bad about it. Consolation for failure may feel better than its absence, but I can assure anybody reading this that the feeling-good of doing well outshines any mitigation of feeling guilty for not doing well.

     My answer to the style-fitness people buying this load of baloney is two doorways: The first is to compete, to race, to achieve. Each personal record is a step up, pride in a demonstrable achievement over previous effort. As an aging athlete, I have to find other measures of achievement, but there is still the satisfaction of doing well. There is a tremendous and wonderful transformation that happens when fitness exercise becomes competitive athletics at any level.

     The second doorway is to broaden one's training in effort and setting. While Further isn't on the Olympic list of Swifter, Higher, and Stronger, it's still a worthy goal in training. Interval training may not be fun, but it is territory worth exploring if you want to run faster. Long runs of high intensity, called anaerobic or tempo runs, are a wonderful way to expand aerobic capacity and they can feel terrific sometimes.

     Training setting is another area for exploration. Moving to Arizona I have discovered trail running. As an uncoordinated individual (a "klutz" with poor footing), I have fallen a few times and don't really like that part of the adventure, but trail scenery is often fantastic. Sometimes I combine bicycling and running or hiking and running to get to places I would not otherwise see.

     Finally, there is the sunrise. In one form or another, my ancestral life on earth has experienced 500,000,000,000 sunrises whose beauty is imprinted on each of us through time. Each new sunrise is an uplifting and joyful experience for me, "the dawn of a new day" in cliché speak, a recognition that there are new beginnings, a chance to celebrate the coming of the sun. I don't marvel that man worshiped the sun for thousands of years, rather I wonder why we stopped.

     In my world, physical achievement and experiencing the world are what sport is all about. The rest is window dressing.


My Work

     In 1982 I got my first job at Bell Telephone Laboratories in the cellular telephone systems engineering group. Cellular was new and exciting then, the idea of having telephones as near as our cars, and we were expecting big things of our technological insights. My first doorway was the usual one of learning to work in an office setting with similarly-smart and differently-educated people toward a common goal. There were many more doorways in those first four years, all technical.
• I did the math supporting a business case for technology innovation.
• I wrote analysis software to understand system growth [5]
• I developed The Adam style of programming for my first large software project.
• I did my first large-scale combinatorial optimization.
• I got non-technical people excited about decision support in cellular.
• I wrote decision support software used by others that endured.
• I even wrote interactive decision support software.

     These doorways were wonderful and each time I did a job superlatively well I got to open the next doorway.

     On 1986 January 28 AT&T Bell Laboratories management put a terribly incompetent director (call him James) in charge of the cellular project. (We were wondering what we were going to do and how the day could get any worse when we found out about the Challenger space shuttle explosion the same morning.) By the end of 1986 May only six of forty-eight people remained in the department. For five years I tried other departments in AT&T Bell Laboratories only to find the political forces that made it possible to promote this James character were making the rest of the labs increasingly anti-intellectual and technophobic [6].

     So my journey began, more jobs, more interesting work, more politics, and then more jobs. I opened doorways into other industries, airlines, manufacturing, digital radio technology, used car sales, railroads, hotels, and retail. I have done planes, trains, and automobiles.

     There are two professional doorways I happily leave unopened. Power and management are challenges of people rather than productivity. As corporate America has emphasized those skills over the pride of accomplishment, we have paid the price both materially and socially.

     I do not measure my success in controlling other people in my workplace. I have substantial influence over their goals by establishing a reputation for judgment and foresight and I exercise this influence when there is difference of opinion. I have met and worked with others who measure their success by this kind of influence, power over others, and they not only miss the point (if there is a point) but also erode the productivity that sustains their paycheques.

     Companies today clearly value management more than technical achievement to the point of the absurd. I had to fight for the parking privileges associated with my rank at one company where I worked regularly with people in four different buildings (other than the one where I was officially based). It clearly bothered them that a mere technical person could share in management privilege, never mind that my work earned and saved a lot of money and that I could do more of it if I could park near the people with whom I was working.

     While management is a well-compensated skill and an intriguing doorway, I remain untempted. The daily grind of ever-increasing politics and the frustration of being measured by how many are convinced rather than how much is contributed keeps me away from this dark side of career growth. Any time I think about such a career turn, I hear Satan's voice saying, "Back on your heads!" [7]


Space Travel

     Remember space travel? Talk about doorways opening to more doorways, what is more exciting than visiting someplace that isn't the earth?

     The old doorways are still exciting to many of us. The Wright brothers flew on 1903 December 16 and, a century later, half a million Americans and who-knows-how-many worldwide still take pleasure flying airplanes.

     For those of us who fly, there are many directions to expand ourselves. Some achieve instrument ratings, commercial certification, and air transport pilot privileges while others long to fly more types of airplanes. My own expansion is to fly to different airports (up to 320 as I write this) from big, international terminals to remote strips of dirt. I love seeing the mountains up-close-and-personal from the air.

     Of course, it's a big leap from buzzing around at 200 Km/hour (120 miles per hour) in my four-seat Piper to having Scotty take the Starship Enterprise to Warp Nine, but there are some reasonable steps in between.

     There is a sequence of doorways humanity went through to get to the moon. We learned to fly into space where there is no air, we learned to orbit the earth, we learned to get to the moon and back, and, finally, learned to land there so we could walk around and collect some rocks to bring home. What a night 1969 July 20 was for all of humanity!

     The doorway of interplanetary travel beckons, to Mars specifically and to the other planets more generally. The notion of watching a human being walking on the red planet is an exciting one to my generation.



     The political scene has always been silly, nothing new here, and our American "founding fathers" figured out that the only better government was smaller government. They were smart enough to install limitations on government and their successors were foolish enough to remove them.

     There are two major parties in the United States today, the Democratic-Republicans with 99% of the vote and the Liberatarians with most of the other 1%. Rather than use Stalin's brute-force techniques, the DRs use a technique of pseudo-choice. Let me explain with two examples:

     After ten years marooned on a deserted island a guy (always a "guy," never a "person" or a "man" or even a "fellow") is rescued and they find three large huts he built. The first, he says, is where he lived, and the second is a temple he built for worship. The third? He explains, "Oh, that's the temple where I won't go."

     I walked into a hifi store one day and noticed they had a pair of Ohm "F" speakers. I knew they didn't carry the Ohm line, so I asked what the F's were doing there. It turns out the representative from Infinity brought them to sell their Monitor speakers against.

     So what's the point? That Americans feel comfortable when they're making a choice, even a contrived choice. So we create two leagues, National and American, Democratic and Republican, Us and Them, so people feel they have a choice in whatever world series is being presented to them. It allows them to avoid the reality that there is one community of political force in the United States. ("No matter how you vote, the government gets elected.")

     They say a young person who is not liberal has no heart and an old person who is not conservative has no brain. I was the big-hearted young liberal until my freshman year when I read The Machinery of Freedom, subtitled Guide to a Radical Capitalism, by David Friedman. It presented a series of logical and practical arguments why, in the presence of a system of private property, the only better government is less government.

     Medical scholars seldom debate how much cancer is the right amount, yet economist and political scientologists wax on and on about the optimal amount of political intervention in people's lives. I went through a doorway when I realized that people, even stupid people, tend to run their own lives better than political do-gooders.

     I learned from the neural-network world [8] that it doesn't take a very strong tendency to point a complex system in its intended direction. Similarly, it doesn't take a very strong moral compass for people to do generally the right thing, and it's very hard for politicians to resist temptation to do the wrong thing.

     Part of me wishes I could really get into the two pseudo-parties in the United States, really to care whether it's elephants or asses in power, but the last presidential election should have convinced anybody that it just isn't so. The real debate is more or less government and not which faction gets to mess things up.


Common Themes

     There is a common theme in all these journeys, that whatever progress was being made seemed to slow down and stop around the same time, around thirty years ago. The term I have heard and embraced for this revoluting new attitude is post-modern, a wonderfully oxymoronic term (how can anything be newer than modern?) for the subtle, deliberate deceit, of our age.

     I put a date on all this, 1973 October 17. In response to United States support of Israel in the last war, the Arab, oil-producing nations cut off their supply of oil to the United States. Thanks to ridiculous regulation of oil prices and atomic power plants (now called "nuclear") from 1969, the U.S. became and has remained dependent on foreign oil. The future brightly lit with atomic fission and, later, hydrogen fusion disappeared from our planning along with many other aspects of the American dream.

     More than cheap energy disappeared in the fall of 1973 [9]. The U.S. space program lost its vitality and would be reborn only a shadow of its former self. Somehow, a thriving manufacturing economy ground to a halt. The skies of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, once dirty-gray with soot and pollution, are now azure blue behind a gleaming-glass skyline as a working-class, productive economy has been replaced with new-age business types buying and trading companies whose names now only allude to productivity and value. We achieved this ecological wonder through economic depravity, by eliminating all those dirty-gray, sooty manufacturing industries and their associated jobs and opportunities for industrious Americans who are now out of work.

     It has taken a generation for the reality of these changes to sink in. Ayn Rand waxed lyrical about ideas and their impact, in her book Atlas Shrugged smart engineers vanish and nobody notices, an important philosopher vanishes and nobody notices, but folks notice things don't work anymore. What's funny about post-modern times is that we didn't have to quit. The powers that run our society got rid of the smart engineers and important philosophers and don't even notice that things aren't working. Ask yourself how much you could trust a company that pays more for an MBA than a Ph.D.

     Whether our contemporary pundits notice it or not, our old technologies are doing less for us and our new technologies have become instruments of psychological and social torture.

     I worked on cellular telephone technology 1982-1986 when it was brand new and 1996-1997 when it was more mature. None of us envisioned what an instrument of rudeness it would become. During my last Philadelphia Orchestra concert in the Academy of Music (before they moved to the not-as-good-sounding new hall), the piano soloist had to wait during his cadenza for somebody's cell phone to stop ringing. Kieth Jarrett was similarly patient when I heard him in Atlanta. Ask any random person what he thinks of cell phones and the diatribe usually starts with "Don't get me started ..." and ends with "I can't believe they're so rude."

     My first electronic-mail account was  ROSENBERG@SCORE  in 1979 before they added all the extra dots at the end. I enjoy the universality of e-mail today, but we are plumbing the depths of public manners in the sheer volume of unwanted "spam" e-mail. How many hours per day do people spend dealing with unwanted and dishonest communications exhorting them to buy stuff they don't want and fishing for their credit card and bank account numbers?

     The Internet is a joy, but it is a pain, too. Bad software and bad management combine to make it a constant hassle to keep connections up and running. I know something about computers and know people who know a lot more, but still I'm reeling when my Internet service provider (ISP) Cox changes the rules or Microsoft changes their software interfaces, my old stuff doesn't work, and I have to fix everything yet again to stay connected. Funny, my telephones still work and I don't have to keep making upgrades, a different mindset perhaps.

     A friend recommends Alan Cooper's The Inmates are Running the Asylum to point out that what's wrong with most of our technology is that it was designed to satisfy engineers rather than to work well for the rest of us. I believe there is a deeper problem with most of our technology, that it wasn't designed at all. The next time you drive a General Motors car [10], ask yourself not who designed it for what purpose but whether it was designed at all.

Finding the Next Doorway

     "So, Adam, you're so smart, things were so good, our society went to pot, tell us how to get back to the garden."

     I wish I had a pat answer. It seems like everything went wrong at the same time, suggesting a rash of symptoms from a single ailment, but I have no specific diagnosis to offer. Let me suggest we can look behind us for the next doorway.

     The next doorway comes from where we were rather than where we are. This is a vital revelation in making our world better again. We can get there by admitting we made mistakes (the approach I prefer) or by finding ways to dress the old ways up so they look New and Improved. (There's an expression for you: "new and improved." If it's new, then how can it be improved ?)

     The road to happiness (either material or spiritual) is not found in megapixels, gigahertz, or terabytes, faster downloads of better images of the same sludge we get now. I don't know what's really better, but I do know where we're going isn't where it's at. It isn't in audio (tubes), computers (objected orientated stuff), or athletics (the fitness movement). The joy is gone.

     Let me suggest some tweaks that will make right much of what is wrong. Let us keep a gentle bias toward

(A) old over new,
(B) old over young,
(C) working over proposed,
and   (D) doing over talking.

     Most of what we did wrong in the last three decades is blind acceptance of new ideas that never met the burden of proof that they were better and paying attention to people who don't know what they're talking about. Most of the new ideas don't work as well as the old ideas and many of them don't work at all.

     While this may sound self-serving (after all, I'm conservative enough (A) and I have survived long enough (B) to be firmly in the "old" category on the first two), my entire career has been based on proposing new ways of doing things (C) and telling people (D) how to do their jobs better. I expect and encourage resistance as it is discussions between the proposers of new ideas and people doing it the old way that turns wise guys into a smart guys.

     The list of four so far (A-D) gives enough of a compass to turn our chaotic world into something useful over the long haul, but I would add more biases to get there faster. I would add

(E) interaction over isolation,
(N) intuitive thinking over sensory facts,
(T) logic over emotion in making decisions,
and   (J) achievement over process.

These trends [11] direct a community's energy toward productivity.

     Finally, in case it needs saying and repeating,

(G) smart is better than stupid.

     Maintaining these attitudes, biases, prejudices, or whatever we want to call them, will not only restore the strength of character we had but allow us to open yet more doorways.

     What is on the other side of the door? I don't know, I'll let you know when I get there, and I believe it's something wonderful. After all, the doorways have been wonderful in the past.


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     1. That so many of us don't live so well is more a product of politics than any shortcoming of engineering and technology. We technologists have built a world that can sustain in comfort our current population and quite a few more.

     2. Like many good things in life, I started running with a challenge. I was on the who-needs-sports side of the lunch table and a Junior-Varsity-runner friend leaned over and said, "Well, at least I'm in shape. I'll bet you a quarter you can't run an eight minute mile." I ended up winning the bet, running through the spring, recruited by a desperate coach (still a good friend today), surviving as a JV member of a winless team, and being a Varsity member of a respectable team my senior year.

     3. When the regular cross country guys at college left me in their wake, one fellow said, "Why don't you run with the slow half milers?" They may have been on the slower end of the cross country squad, but I didn't think they were that slow. Jeff was 1:53, Charlie was 1:51, and Craig Masback was 1:49, not too slow in my book.

     4. I would regard my 3:03:30 marathon (6:59.9 per mile and I don't round it off to seven minutes) as ultimate as I am seriously unlikely to run that well again. My most recent marathon was in 2001, a few years ago I admit. I'm still running cross country races and I'm pretty sure my last marathon is still ahead of me.

     5. My first business case in 1983 became an analysis of cellular telephone technology alternatives with a program that figured out how to add cells to satisfy subscriber demand growth. The program was called AUTOGROW (for Autoplex Growth) and it was used for various purposes from 1983 through 1998, a fifteen year life. It answered several fundamental questions about design and technology choices and demonstrated with actual radio channel counts and coverage the efficacy of some of our more exotic frequency reuse schemes.

     6. Anti-intellectual and technophobic, maybe not by the standards of the local pub, but certainly by the standards of Bell Telephone Laboratories.

     7. A rather bad man dies and meets Satan in a room with three doors. Satan explains, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that you have to spend eternity behind one of these doors. But, the good news is that you can take a peek behind each and take your choice."
So, the man opened the first door and saw a room full of people, standing on their heads on a concrete floor. Not very nice, he thought.
Opening the second door, he saw a room full of people standing on their heads on a wooden floor. Better, he thought, but best to check the last door.
Upon opening the last door, he saw a room full of people, standing waist-deep in excrement and sipping coffee.
"Of the three, this one looks best," he said and waded in to get something to drink while Satan closed the door.
A few minutes later the door opened, Satan stuck his head in and said, "Ok, coffee break's over, back on your heads!"

     8. It's an ill wind that blows no good. Even the sixty years of fluff that neural networks have bestowed upon us, diverting effort from more useful work in my well-educated and well-experienced opinion, dropped this pearl in my lap. It was a demonstration a friend showed me that a feeble random-feedback system toward getting the indicated "right" answer was enough for the system to find it.

     9. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has the slogan that electricity would be "to cheap to meter."

     10. GM has most of the rental-car market. That means that most of us regularly sample their product whether we want to or not. What a wonderful market-exposure opportunity for General Motors. It's too bad the cars aren't fun to drive. Maybe they should require every GM employee to drive a Toyota Camry for two weeks.

     11. Readers may notice the pattern of these suggests the personality type classifications of Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs and should not be surprised that I fall into their ENTJ personality-type classification.