Sunday, April 29, 2012



Engineers are rapidly disappearing.  Why?  Because the learning curve to be a "real" engineer, of any kind, is extremely hard.  Usually the second semester of Calculus causes lots of dropouts.  If not, then Partial Differential Equations gets another 1/3 of them.  Finally, if the school still offers it, Abstract Algebra and/or Advanced Statistics / Forecasting will cook the goose of any slackers left over by their junior year.  The senior year was actually a breeze.  By that time, the professors had weeded out the slackers and "engineer wannabes" and we had fun doing fun work.  Even the Masters programs were run about the same way.  The first year was bad.  The last years were fun.   But most students can't make through the first three years of Engineering Basic Training - much like the Navy SEAL training. 

Very few programmers ever have any of the aforementioned items in the title of this blog.  Not in any quantity of any consequence.  Not if they remain programmers.   However, Chris Taylor recently pointed out that the gigantic Obama Recovery Act that laid out $845 BILLION USD to various places (of which the great State of Texas claimed about $17 Billion for such projects as The First Methodist Church of Dallas and a moving company in Denton) that created darned few jobs but lots money for Health Care IT and other stuff - meaning money for existing doctors ($40K - $65K per physician) and hospitals (about $11M each hospital) that was supposed to go help create jobs.  Did you get any of that???

Well, I certainly hope that the quack that screwed up my back got his share of the "Great American Bailout" since he has now proclaimed me "healed" when my insurance ran out.  That guy would make a great TV evangelist - but I've never seen a TV Islam Evangelist.  Too bad...  He would have made a good one.  Originally he was supposed to have fixed the problem of the breakdown between the 5th and 6th lumbar - instead he decided (with my previously written permission that you have to give or they won't operate) - that he would fix my slight sway back (technically, scoliosis) that I have had since I was a child and it really never bothered me. 

Now I can walk more than 25 yards only with the help of two canes.  At my last session he finally told me that I would have to come back in a year or two and fix that 5th lumbar.  I came really close to being convicted of 2nd degree homicide in a later court appearance.  And I had two canes in my hands with which to accomplish such a task.  Oh, well.  Y'Shua, an Essene Jewish Rabbi two thousand years ago, taught that forgiveness was better than vengeance.  (How do I know he was Essene?  He had a Passover supper the night before the rest of the Jewish population had their Passover supper meaning that he followed the Essene calendar and not the "new and improved" Jewish calendar.")

Enough on religion and bad doctors!  How about us, the lowly, the pale-skinned, cube dwellers who toil long hours under artificial, fluorescent, mercury-vapor, cool-white lamps to help the middle managers make twice or three times our salary and bonuses while the CxO (Charlie Guys) make 10 times our salaries and/or bonuses for driving us to higher and higher production with fewer and fewer people who work for less and less money.  Well, most of us, that is.  Some of us had the good sense to quite the rat race part and become "consultants"for just wee bit more money and HECK (H E Double Tooth Picks) of a lot more freedom of movement.  Unfortunately, that also comes with long periods of unemployment and a sense of loneliness that is lost only with Webinars and Skype conferences with others of the same ilk.  Or playing chess against the computer at higher and higher skill levels.

Here's the real two-pronged problem: First, The Charlie Boys gave the Middle Managers some short term (three to twelve month) goals to improve production with less personnel and less money.  So, the MM cut their top money makers (meaning the older, higher-paid troops with the experience) and hired off-shore or recently on-shored labor (i.e., Green Card Guys) who were lots cheaper but didn't know diddly squat about programming enterprise projects nor really technical tools.  Yeah, they know Java, J2EE/Spring and some other "cool" stuff but they don't have the engineering background of the REAL programmers.  Things like Unix internals, nor real OOAD nor how the Rete Algorithm actually works, nor Conflict Resolution in the Rete Algorithm - all that they have are some highlights to fool middle management. 

Second, HR is too danged (this gets me a PG-13 rating since I didn't use the real D-word) lazy to do the ground work for themselves so they hire off-shore or recently on-shored companies to do a "warm-body" search for people to fill "warm-body" slots in the company.  The few technical people left at the company are allowed to interview ONLY the lowest-paid 10% of the ones that HR found, not the real programmers that cost more than the ridiculous amount that HR had set as the maximum that they would pay for a certain position. 

OK, this has now turned into what sounds like a previous rant but it has to be said over and over again that HR and Middle Management (at the direction of Upper Management Charlie Boys) are screwing up the world, not just the USA.  Only in the UK and a couple of other countries are they actually hiring and paying their technical people what they are worth.   The next few years will see if the USA companies have learned their lessor or not AND whether or not the difference between the two policies (USA vs UK / France / Deutchland / etc) will pay off in the long run.  China has that policy and it hasn't worked for them very well in the long run.  I've learned to looks at labels and those that say, 'Made in China" I drop like a hot rock in West Texas. 

So, if you got this far in the blog, you deserve at least a "B" for having the perseverance (or the stupidity) to read this far.  Leave a comment and have the bravery to at least sign it.  ;-)


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