Posts Tagged ‘engineering’

the Uncomfortable Side of the Brain

October 13, 2013

We all have it, that area of the brain where our thoughts just do not seem to jibe.

Many who are mathematically inclined cannot seem to communicate well on emotional wavelengths, though some can.

Many who are quite well-versed in other areas have difficulty resolving some higher math concepts.

Other artists can grasp the technical side of music and excel in the math but seem to fail at being creative in their field. Their “technical proficiency” seems to hamper creativity.

Everyone has some area they do not feel real comfortable being, or thinking.

So, we should cut others some slack simply because they cannot see or visualize some things as clearly as we.

Because, rest assured, there are subject areas where you too could be called less than average.


Advertisements

American Mediocrity II

April 24, 2012

In my last offering, I was speaking of an engineering professor who told his class that any engineer worth the title could build anything that would last practically forever. The object of American engineering was to produce a product that would fall apart the day after the warranty expired.

That’s the American ideal! Planned mediocrity. We could engineer better but the American marketplace requires planned obsolescence. Why? Because our entire economy is based on this business model. All our industry, all our employment, all our financial institutions are built around this model of mediocrity and planned obsolescence.

If we produced things that lasted for years beyond the warranties, the manufacturers would soon be laying people off as the sales levels would drop. This is being alleviated these days with the shortening of the next phase curve in the business model. After six months a new model or version comes out so people can trash their old model – well in advance of the expiration of the warranty – in order to have the latest, greatest thing.

Is it any wonder that so many people are calling “the American Dream” a nightmare.

As bad as this economic scenario is, I’m afraid the picture of mediocrity goes far deeper, into the very philosophy of our daily lives.

Years ago, there was a episode of Fibber Magee & Molly (an old television show, if you don’t know) in which Fibber was honored by being the average man. An early computer had averaged all the traits of humans and burped out the totally average man: Fibber Magee. Well, he was not pleased in the slightest. He, he proclaimed, was not average in any way. It was all very funny.

Except that it is normal for today’s society.

My wife went to have some blood work done by the doctor and he came back with a nice graph outlining what her chemical levels were in various areas and how far they were off from the normal. He, of course, prescribed numerous pharmaceuticals to bring her into line with the norms.

This is a scene played out in doctors’ offices all over the country on a daily basis. So what could be wrong with that?

Like the Fibber Magee tale, who is this average person they got these numbers from?

Actually, no one. The person with all those numbers does not exist, I’m afraid. What they did was test a thousand or two people on all the various chemicals on the list and then averaged all the numbers. And since no one in the study would actually conform to all the numbers, why should they expect anyone else to?

It is producing a mediocrity, a fictitious normalcy, a fantasy world that truly does not exist, for people that do not exist.

The only way such a test pattern would work is if they had tested you earlier to see what was normal for you, and then test you again to see what had changed, and then ascertained why the levels had changed – and it could have been something you ate the day before, the bio-cycle you are in for that period of the month, or simply that you had aged.

To start off trying to get everyone to the same level is this erroneous mediocrity-thinking we have been gifted with. It has pervaded all parts of our culture and our lives, almost to the point where reality and mediocrity are difficult to separate.

American Mediocrity I

March 21, 2010

Whoa!! Wait just a minute there, fellow!

How can you possibly link those two words together like that? There is nothing mediocre about America. Why, it’s the best place the world has ever seen; more powerful, more technologically advanced, more… Yeah, you know… yada yada yada.

Let’s just take a step back and recognize ourselves.

America is great. But by which yardstick? Recently, population estimates show that for the first time in history more than half the population of the country lives in cities. Now, what is so great about that? Yeah, New York is the city that never sleeps, etc. Probably because it has to have one eye open all the time so it won’t get robbed. And I’m not just talking about petty theft, I’m talking about the wolves on Wall Street.

Okay, perhaps I am being a bit too harsh. My geography book says that the population of New York City is dense. So, I take its word for it.

Psychological studies have shown that people in cities have a much higher degree and rate of neuroses than do dwellers in rural areas. So we are quickly on the road to starvation when less than half the people in the country have to produce food for the urban populations.

This is going to lead to the next step: man-made foods. And here we are getting more to the core of the problem. For some reason, we have begun to believe the idea – drilled into us since Elementary School – that we are the greatest nation, Manifest Destiny and all that. Social scientists tell us that we are the natural progression from the dregs of mud bogs to the ultimate pinnacle of evolution.

First of all, who says we are a pinnacle of anything?

The world tries to imitate or duplicate what we have here. Most people rejoice in the fact but I see it as a reduction in the planetary diversity. We are all different so let’s revel in that fact and not try to normalize everything rather than trying to force our Americanisms on the world at large. Just because we say it is best does not necessarily make it so.

One of the prime examples of flexing muscles to enforce an inferior product is the case of Microsoft. They conspired with Intel to monopolize the computer industry and drove many companies with a better product out of the marketplace. This is part of the myth of a fair market system – Microsoft can say they prospered in an open market because the other products could not compete. That is patently BS as even a cursory look over the historical literature would show. The number of lawsuits against Microsoft and Federal fines, fills pages.

And to top it off, every Windows® system they have come out with lacks the quality their competition had that were forced out of the market because Microsoft bundled its software on every new system and the general consumer – not savvy to the computer systems – bought into the Microsoft version.

This is mediocrity at its best in the marketplace. But it is not just in computers that this goes on.

An engineering professor years ago told his class that any engineer worth the title could build anything that would last practically forever. The object of American engineering was to produce a product that would fall apart the day after the warranty expired.

That’s the American ideal! Planned mediocrity. We could engineer better but the American marketplace requires planned obsolescence. Why? Because our entire economy is based on this business model. All our industry, all our employment, all our financial institutions are built around this model of mediocrity.

So, what’s mediocre about America? America!