Saturday, December 22, 2012

Newtown Connecticut

Memo to all you "Cold Dead Hands" heroes out there.
Since it is clear that you intend to kill yourselves if the government decides to inject sanity into our gun laws, please plan to do it in a concerned and efficient manner:

 1) Choose your spot carefully, I would suggest out in the open so that your loved ones will not have an onerous clean up job

 2) Select your weapon with care for the same reason, use a small caliber to prevent widespread blood and brain spatter.

 3) Also if you score a through and through you will not endanger your neighbors

 4) I realize that you are making a statement to protect your rights to semi and full automatic weapons, but select single shot please to avoid accidental overspray as you fall on the gun

5) Please advise the proper authorities via time delayed email where they can pry your weapon of choice from your cold dead hands. It will make it easier for them to comply with the law and remove one more gun from society
6) If your intentions are clear, and you have no doubts about the rightfulness of your action, do not clutter up the suicide hotlines. They have enough to do right now.

 7) Make sure all your paperwork is in order, place your gun permit on top of your last will and testament and other useful documents that your loved ones will need.

 8) If you feel compelled to write a suicide note, contact your local NRA rep for fill in the blank templates. They have proven themselves to be quite good at this.

 9) Try to reject any ideas that anyone will care for your reasons, just accept the fact that you have the right to bear arms, the Second Amendment allows it.

 10) Finally, in the spirit of defending that right, don't ask anyone else to pull the trigger that blows you away by challenging local law enforcement people, they have enough to do protecting our children from people likeyou.
If you are kind enough to follow these simple instruction you will have a wonderful experience secure in the knowledge that you have helped humanity by eleminating another potential murderer and at the same time done it in a considerate and humane manner.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Defaulting to Stupid

A long time ago when notebook computers were just starting, I worked with a small Japanese company that made one the first and possibly one of the best notebooks at the time.  We had just launched our Intel 386 model, and were gearing up to produce a faster, more powerful, 486 processor based unit.

I was in charge of Public Relations for the company and was very involved with all aspects of the developing machine.  So I was not surprised to be invited to attend what was termed a “Key Product Definition” meeting.  KPDs were very important, very confidential and very technical and terminology such as interface algorithms, clock speed and PCMCIA soft interface were discussed.  The topic sounded innocuous enough, “Default Settings, Definition and Recommendations”.

What that means is that whenever something weird happens inside the computer, or when the customer buys his computer, the default settings are the basic instructions on how the machine will start and run.  Defaults are designed to be modified or customized as they say in the automotive business.

The operating principle was to be able to return the laptop to its simplest configuration at the tap of a few keys. The default setting covered the most cases and the broadest applications.

The default settings were governed by a simple principle; default to stupid!

Default to stupid is a timeless concept that has never been fully appreciated, just emulated. When all else fails, find the dumbest user, the least sophisticated practitioner, the truly inept operator and assme that he or she will be the one needing the corrections.  Then select the least complicated settings even though they may require the hardest programming to achieve. It is the obverse of an elegant solution because stupid is neither elegant nor in search of a solution, defaulting to stupid means just that, get down to the lowest common  denominator and run with it.

With that definition clearly in mind, the engineers would then get to work with a clear understanding of what the problem resolution algorithm to a machine that had been fried by sitting on the rear deck of a car, dropped into a pond or covered with a double latte at Starbucks. But beyond the fact that it is very hard for engineers with stratospheric IQs to get into the right mindset, I quickly learned my role in the equation. I was the guiding light leading the tribe to stupid, writ large.

As a PR guy, writer, expert in bringing the grandiose down to earth by just not getting it, my talents were based on another complex algorithm and that was Never Assume Intelligence.

In those two engineering equations, default to stupid and never assume intelligence lies the simple message of many of life’s toughest questions from raising children and running national elections. As long as you follow the banner you can never lose in life’s silly games, you will never be disappointed by the outcomes you anticipated. You will, however miss most of life’s intellectual pursuits, and that is definitely defaulting to stupid.