Positively losing my job

by Terry 3/3/2010 3:53:00 PM

Today I updated my resume and posted it online. This was prompted by the layoff notice I received recently from Boeing, my current employer. Oddly, I am not unhappy about this. As a software developer working in an aerospace company, I do not have the opportunity to grow as I might in a company with a greater emphasis on Information Technology. I see the upcoming change as a positive and professionally healthy change.

I saw the change coming, sort of. The stress of job hunting is not one most people relish. I know I don’t. I was a little resistant to job-hunting before I was certain of my status.  When I received my notice I was not surprise, although I was a bit disappointed at first. Who wouldn’t be after 12 years with a company? Thankfully, the disappointment passed very quickly. So, for the last week, I have been in job-hunting mode. I am not unhappy or bitter, just determined and hopeful. I look forward to the chance to expand my skills and abilities.

I have already been diligently applying for jobs. I suppose I am lucky in some sense. While my likelihood of remaining with Boeing in another position is slim, I am still employed for the next several weeks. This relieves some of the pressure and allows me to be deliberate in my actions. I feel for people who are cut loose with no warning or severance.

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...but there is no danger of people participating in a democracy

by Terry 1/6/2010 1:29:00 PM

Apparently how a person might have been incarcerated is more important than the fact that a person managed to act in ways to become incarcerated in the first place.

“Washington state felons should have voting rights, federal court rules”
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010708869_felons06m.html

<snip>Ryan Haygood of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund said such cases are "very hard to win." But he described voting by incarcerated felons as the "best tool to re-integrate them into society."

"There is this view that there is reason to be fearful, but there is no danger of people participating in a democracy," said Haygood, who worked as co-counsel with Weiser on the case. "You don't lose when people participate in a democracy. That's especially true of people who are incarcerated."</snip>

I am skeptical that voting has been scientifically validated as the best means of integrating a felon into society. I would venture there are more effective re-socialization methods than allowing people demonstrably socially-shunned a way to vote change in the society that shuns them. Not everyone deserves the privilege to vote themselves back on the island.

If the means of incarceration are suspect, address that directly. The State declared rights to protect its own social stability. Indirectly addressing a law enforcement process of possible wrong-doing does not protect the underlying principles being altered. It neither protects the social contract the State was given to enforce nor does it address the rights of prisoners who may be improperly incarcerated.

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It’s a Pirate Ship! Damn the Rules!

by Terry 10/8/2009 12:24:00 PM

State's 'Pirates' ship too dirty for Calif.

“Washington's official state ship, the venerable Lady Washington, is no longer welcome in California.

The 112-foot square-rigger, perhaps best-known as the ship hijacked by Jack Sparrow in the Disney film "Pirates of the Caribbean," normally spends its winters in California waters. Last winter, it hosted more than 70,000 visitors and took more than 7,000 California school kids sailing from California ports.

But not this year.”

The ship is banned because it uses an old engine.

Would not a better alternative be to use processed cooking oil? Consider, a local law is changing the use and public access to a ship with some educational and public value in service for years. The change is forcing a non-government sponsored program to incur $100,000 of refit expenses, putting the program at risk.

I call this a symptom of unintended consequences. I would prefer to have rules imposed which only apply to new ships instead of forcing costly retrofitting. What are the costs of this required retrofit? It goes beyond the cost of replacing an engine. It includes the energy to produce a new engine, dispose of the old engine, transportation, and so on.

I could see a simple possible ‘eco-friendly’ work-around. Why not require the vessel use a bio-diesel alternative? I suppose the argument is that the emissions are unsavory with the current engine. How about the cannons? Are these emissions regulated too?

Damn the rules! It is a Pirate Ship! Who’s to say nay to their coastal passage!

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A silly article to make you feel guilty

by Terry 9/2/2009 3:02:00 PM

I must be feeling snippy. I cannot resist taking this silly article apart.

Apparently, as this article (from Fox news of all places) implies, if you don’t move with the Chosen One, whose advisor says is “not an asshole”, than you must be an asshole. I say ‘Chosen One’ because of the attitude in the article and the advisor mentioned in the article. To imply that the leader of the nation is infallible is silly. To claim that argument or dissent from his view is stonewalling is equally silly. Politics are about dissident and compromise. Specifically, government is a generalized embodiment of the will of the people, and politics are the tools people use to influence this embodiment. As much as I don’t like a political ass, does not mean the ass is wrong.

Personally, I think being an asshole is a required personal trait for any politician. By definition, a politican is going to offend someone, probably a significant minority of people, in even the best of times. I am trying to see what is even newsworthy in this article. It serves no value than to say you should feel bad about yourself if you disagree with the ideas of the most powerful non-asshole on Earth. That is B.S.

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Women rule the universe and allow men the illusion of control

by Terry 5/7/2009 4:28:00 PM

I finally have decided to self-publish my fist work. Okay, I have to admit, it is not much. In fact, it is only one line. Here it is:

“Women rule the universe and allow men the illusion of control.” – Terry Losansky

I have been saying this for at least 20 years. I cannot recall what prompted it, but I have never found reason to change it. What I have found generally amusing is no one to date has ever disputed the conjecture.

Anyway, I decided that the idea was too compelling to keep to myself. I have decided to share it with the world. You too can now own this bit of wisdom. Visit my Café Press (http://www.cafepress.com/TipsUI) shop for you own mug. I think I will create a hat and tee-shirt too in the near future.

The subtlety in my conjecture is in the second clause where women “allow men the illusion of control”. Many people have stated in various ways that, ‘women rule’. I.e. “women rule, boys drool” is a common phrase. My daughter has a plaque in her room saying such. The key is the illusion women bestow on men. We men smugly believe we have some control of the world around us. Women have no such illusion, nor do women posses this control. They rule, but do not control. Men do not rule, but believe they control. It is a fine balance. It requires exploration of thought….

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Take a Sock Day

by Terry 2/2/2009 9:23:00 AM

Apparently February 2nd is Take a Sock Day. I received an email this morning from a coworker saying she was out of the office – taking a sock day. This explains the abundance of missing socks and mismatched pairs.

In high school a friend of mine postulated washing machines, or their evil cousins clothes dryers, were secret portals to a dimension he simply referred to as Lost. Socks would only go missing when processed through the laundry, but never go missing when anyone was looking. Naturally this cannot be fully falsified and therefore proves the existence of a higher power. The ID folks should rejoice in the miracle of the missing sock.

I personally think the notion of Take a Sock Day is far more plausible. An entire day dedicated to absconding with knitted foot coverings.

Another coworker points out the real question is, “What happens when the Ground Hog sees a mismatched pair of socks?”

Obviously, he requires six weeks more sleep before returning it.

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Global Warming is Irreversible – We are so going to die

by Terry 1/27/2009 4:27:00 PM

Wow. It is official. Our society is doomed to collapse in an overheated dustbowl, no matter what we do. The only solution is to throw more resources at stopping the inevitable.

“I guess if it's irreversible, to me it seems all the more reason you might want to do something about it”
- Susan Solomon, ‘who is among the world's top climate scientists’

Actually, what really scares me is the stupidity of this and other recent news releases. This is more truth by repeated assertion than science. Science proposes theories based on observable facts and repeatable experiments. News agencies, no longer journalists I think, have apparently lost the ability to fact check, or differ between a statement of opinion and verified data reality.

For example, New data show much of Antarctica is warming more than previously thought.

Which is refuted here in Antarctica warming? An evolution of viewpoint and Despite the hot air, the Antarctic is not warming up.

The common thread in the initial statements of impending disaster is the underlying theories are presented as unalterable truths when they are really weak theories bases on unverifiable models using admittedly manufactured data. This is not science but a show – shriek for more funding.

Frankly, I could care less if there is global warming or cooling, although I would prefer warming, as it is easier to grow food in a desert than on a glacier. What I do care about is the shrieking call to Do Something, particularly when the something to do is not defined, or is wrapped in vague statements.

We must reduce carbon! Ok, by how much and in what form? How do you know this? Can you account for natural variation? How do you know you have? How do your models change with different assumptions? How do you know your assumptions are correct? What is your margin of error?

In 1999 I was asked to evaluate the compliance with ‘Year 2000’ computing requirements with the company I worked for. I was creating a legal document to verify our company had done its darned best to thwart the specter of a Y2K disaster. My evaluation of the data showed a 60% margin of error. That is, we were likely as bare naked as we were dressed for success. My employer said to me, in no uncertain terms, that I will show that the company is 90% compliant. Sure. That is easy. I will tell the truth. And I told my boss as much, to her great displeasure. My final document said the company was possibly 90% compliant. It also said very clearly that errors were so large we may only be 30% compliant, we may know with greater certainty in January of 2000 and the only way to actually know was to reduce uncertainty.

What is missing from our ‘top scientists’ are actual statements on what is fact and what is fiction. By fiction, I mean what are assumptions and not real data. What our top scientists need to start saying and our news agencies need to start reporting are the truths about the weakness of a reported theory and what in the theory is falsifiable. We need to stop believing in truth because someone said it is so. Maybe I should say this more often.

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On Snow, Facebook and Car Loans Boom and Bust

by Terry 1/5/2009 5:17:00 PM

I am back from a break. I just did not have the energy to post for during the holidays. I spent the time with family and friends.

Snow

It snowed, again, last night. Fortunately the school district kept their wits about them and called the delayed start time early this morning. Just before the winter break the schools in Western Washington fell for the collective predictive qualities of our weather service and closed schools across the area. It turns out in our district it would have paid to wait, as it only rained. It was such a knee-jerk, herd mentality reaction that I am almost surprised the district didn’t burn the schools for firewood when it started snowing the day after. As it stands, Kaitlin got a longer winter break and all is normal again.

Facebook

Sometime in the last three weeks I figured out how to incorporate this site (http://www.nerva.com/) into my Facebook page. I am not big on Twitter and the one sentence updates on Facebook. I lose patience for it. I am more interested now that I have my RSS feed fuel my Facebook page automatically. I will continue to poke around with it for now.

Car Loans

I read that Chrysler is getting something like $4 billion dollars in bailout money from the government. I heard on NPR or someplace that the company is lowering the credit ratings needed purchase a new car. This makes the cars attractive to the least likely to be able to make payments on the product. The first thought that struck my mind was this is exactly the mentality that created the housing boom-bust over the last couple decades. Government guaranteed backing and a race to the bottom for buyers with the builder stuck in the middle.

I understand that Chrysler needs to sell its vehicles. A short term business loan in the billions is a big motivator to get the wheels of business turning again. I am not sure what the solution should be, but what I feel is this is a recipe for delayed failure of the company. Sure, sales may pick up, but in a year or two the loans for new cars will have a higher failure rate. Maybe those bad loans don’t affect Chrysler’s bottom line, but it will affect someone.

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Does Eliminating the Gifted Label Actually Help Anyone

by Terry 12/18/2008 3:54:00 PM

In a recent article in the Washington Post, the Montgomery County school system has decided to drop the use of the ‘gifted’ label for kids who show exemplary scholastic skills. See, Montgomery Erasing Gifted Label.

Apparently, it seems, many schools see calling gifted students gifted is unfair to the less gifted, but the ‘gifted’ classes remain open to all students. There is a belief that all students will somehow benefit from advanced placement. Many of our public educators believe the fallacy that pouring advanced education on the less-bright will make the dim brighter. The fallacy of this belief has been well argued by Charles Murray.

From the Washington Post article, “School system leaders say losing the label won't change gifted instruction, because it is open to all students.”

The point, in my opinion, of special, more advanced training is to give the brighter kids enough challenge to keep them interested in school with the goal to ready these kids for being future leaders in our society. I would hope we would want the brighter kids to become our leaders. By simple definition, not all children are above average. Again, from the Washington Post article.

“The gifted label is a hot potato in public education. A school that tells some students they have gifts risks dashing the academic dreams of everyone else. Any formula for identifying gifted children, no matter how sophisticated, can be condemned for those it leaves out.”

And

"'It can set up a kind of have and have-not atmosphere at your school, and we don't have that here,' said Aara Davis, principal of Georgian Forest Elementary School in Silver Spring."

Eh? So, why do we have tests? Would not tests for aptitude in a subject create a have and have-not atmosphere? I guess because grades must be kept private from other kids (and presumably parents) it would prevent any of the kids from feeling bad about themselves.

Sure, some kids will feel left out. Some kids can't run fast, jump high, swim well, play chess or do well any of an infinite number of other difficult or merely functional tasks.

Frankly, offering the carrot of advanced education to our brighter kids, particularly the top 10% - 25%, depending on the particular goals, is equally or more important than providing a remedial education for the below average. Our nation seems bent on lowering the bar so that every child appears above average. Lowering the educational bar serves only to bore our bright kids into trouble.

I can site myself as a partial example. In grade school I was often pegged by my teachers as a 'special needs' child and sent to remedial classes. My mother balked at this, convincing the school to instead to leave me in the regular classes. What my mother understood, and the teachers did not recognize, was that I was simply bored in class.

I recall clearly in third grade sitting in class calculating the answers to all the math questions the teacher wrote on the chalk board for a simple quiz. I had gotten past memorizing the answers of basic multiplication, instead started using algorithms to figure the answers. That was an epiphany for me, knowing the patterns of math rather than the rote answers. I then memorized the answers to each question on the board as I processed each in my head. When the teacher finished writing the questions and asked us to turn over our paper to start the quiz, I simply wrote the answer to each question (there were about 15 questions). I then had plenty of time to kill while the rest of the class finished their tests. I became bored and quickly a bit of a nuisance to the rest of the class while I sat fidgeting in my chair. My teacher, now standing by my desk to settle me down, was a little miffed I had not shown any of my work and believed I was somehow cheating.

This is when my epiphany came full circle. In defending my answers I explained to my teacher that I knew how each answer was derived by a simple algorithm. This took a few minutes to explain as a third grader, but by the end of my explanation I was standing in the front of the class teaching the entire class how I was both deriving my answers and checking my work. (For example, numbers multiplied by 5 always end in 5 or 0, or a number is evenly divisible by 3 if the sum of the digits is also divisible by 3, and so on.) When my teacher understood that I understood the math beyond what was being taught was I no longer suspected of cheating. This event was one of the few times I actually showed interest in my classes almost until college.

Oddly, I never thought I was particularly bright (having been told for years I was not) until I went to college and excelled in calculus, physics and computer science. I could pick classes that were actually a challenge and I was interested in class and my grades had never been better.

My hope is our teachers find ways to encourage and stimulate our brighter kids.

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What are the Automaker Bailout Costs?

by Terry 12/12/2008 1:33:00 PM

What are the costs of the automaker bailout? Really, I ask myself, why must the automakers need a bailout and why should the government provide one (or more)?

If you take the current condition of the automakers, GM and Chrysler in particular and Ford to a lesser extent, the Big Three are admittedly bankrupt; without intervention they cannot pay their current obligations. Most businesses in this case will, must really, declare a formal bankruptcy. The states each have a system in place to deal with this.

So, what makes the Big Three special enough to demand the federal government provide a massive guarantee of funds? I see basically three areas of argument, which are the selling points for supporting these dying giants.

Industrial Base

In my opinion, the most valuable asset the automakers posses are their collective industrial base. This offers the most tangible resource which adds value to the national economy. Without the manufacturing plants, the automakers are nothing. Industrial capacity within the country is a vital national concern. A nation with no industrial capability is at the whim of its suppliers.

Labor Force

The labor force, represented by the United Automobile Workers union, is of some value. Trained workers are of some value. There is considerable cost to society and the taxpayers of an idle (i.e. unemployed) work force. The most valuable labor force is one that works. Ideally, the work force does its work efficiently and has the workers feel like they contribute to society, themselves and the employer. The worst condition of a work force is one that does not work.

Technology Sciences

Technological improvements are vital for the growth of society. Progressive technological improvements always contribute to the growth of society. The abandonment of technological investment is a strategic concern. There are many historical examples for the value of science and technology. For example, after the French Revolution, which abolished the Académie des Sciences in 1793, the government and Napoleon reinstated parts of the Académie to continue important work, of which the establishment of the metric system is an example of the results.

Options

Of these three arguments, I believe, the weakest is the labor force. Consider, if any of these companies fail, the technology and the manufacturing assets are the only elements the companies can barter for their debt. That is, who would buy the services of the existing labor force at the cost the U.A.W. contracts require?

What the U.A.W. is effectively demanding is the government security of its labor contracts. While it would be a terrible cost to every unemployed worker, the cost to the government and taxpayers would be far less to pay unemployment benefits until employment is found. Allowing the collapse of any of the automakers would be much more painful at first, the pain or ripping a bandage off a cut comes to mind, but many of these workers would likely go back to work at any restructured company which emerges from a bankruptcy. Those who do not would still be paid unemployment at a lesser cost than the cost associated of the bailout.

Ultimately, the market for cars, if it is there, will allow a well managed, efficient automaker to step in and use the technology and factories most efficiently. If a strategic emergency should arise, the factories and labor force can be employed by government contracts and prizes. It is not unlike the aftermath of the French Revolution but without the Reign of Terror.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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