In the mid-1990’s I worked for a telecommunications firm that was trying to make a set top box for interactive television. (This was even as the internet was exploding. Read Michael Lewis’ The Next Next Thing to find out what the “B Team” was working on.) One of the things I spent a lot of time on was “software update.” We needed a way to securely update the operating software in the device, and we wanted to do it while connected to our network, because the cost to roll a truck and have a technician do it was prohibitive.
A few years later, I was working for a different company trying to innovate in the electrical power industry. (I know, it was hopeless. But I was young and naive.) Anyway, we had the exact same problem: securely updating the software in a networked device. It’s a problem that’s fraught with difficulties.
As it happens, both of those ventures flamed out, so I never got to be part of solving that problem. But this morning, as I was eating my oatmeal, I saw that someone else seems to be doing it:
I recently saw Rush play a show in Atlanta. The crowd ranged in age from five to the mid-fifties, embracing both lank-haired teenage skateboarders and heart surgeons. And when the band launched into its ode to suburban anomie, “Subdivisions,” everyone got it. If you were a smart kid, you lived that song in your youth, and a little thing like academic tenure won’t make you forget it. And if you weren’t, you lived it too.
Update: D’Oh! My clever title was wrong. Fixed. Happy 21/12, by the way!
DeMint has been a destructive force, threatening to primary colleagues, resisting all deals and offering very little in the way of attainable legislation. He has contributed more than any current senator to the dysfunction of that body.
Really. More than Harry Reid?
Put aside the double standard where Republicans are supposed to make the place “function” while Democrats like Reid get a pass no matter what they do. But look at the ways that DeMint is “destructive:”
threatening to primary colleagues — didn’t he realize that the Senate is a lifetime appointment, until you get defeated by the other party and retire to K street?
resisting all deals — if the Senate wasn’t populated by kneejerk squishes like John McCain and Lindsey Graham (to say nothing of pathetic “dynasty” cases like my own Senator Lisa Murkowski) that would be a problem. As it is, someone has to provide as least a little resistance.
offering very little in the way of attainable legislation — a doubly-qualified statement: “very little” filtered through an establishment viewpoint of what is “attainable.” This last item was only included to flesh out the complaint. They were so weak they needed help, but this isn’t it.
The kindest thing that can be said about this quintuple rendezvous plan is that it is probably the unplanned product of the pathology of bureaucracy, rather than the willful madness of any individual. For a fifth of its cost, NASA could fly five simple direct sample return missions, each of which would have (at least) five times its chance of mission success. So itâ€™s hard to imagine any sane person inventing it on purpose.