31 January 2007
A recent poll in the UK reports "one in three British Muslims aged between 18 and 24 said they would rather live under Sharia law than under British law."
As far as I can tell, nothing is stopping these young Muslims from following the dictates of Sharia law (just as nothing is stopping the Olin students from finishing early - see previous post). They can wear the headscarves, avoid pork, worship, fast during Ramadan, marry one wife, give to charity, etc, etc. OK, so they can't amputate the hands of theives, but is that the part of Sharia they really miss the most?
My impression is not that these young believers want to live under Sharia law so much as they want the people around them to do so. I suspect they don't want their own hands amputated if they steal something - they want it to happen to someone else.
The bottom line is not so much that they want Sharia law to be applied to themselves, because they can do that already. They actually are expressing a desire to enforce Sharia law on people who do not want it and who do not believe as they do. That's the part that bugs me...
Of course, the other possibility is that we're misunderstanding the poll results. Maybe what they mean by Sharia law is something other than the popular understanding I've described here. Maybe they're just saying they would rather live by God's laws than Man's. As a Christian, I'd be hard pressed to disagree with that sentiment... although in practice they are actually pursuing their own interpretation & understanding of God's law, and placing more trust in human being's ability to govern & judicate than the British legal/political system ever does.
Postscript from "What Is Sharia?" by Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq:
The Shari'ah is thus nothing less than the divinely ordained way of life for man. To realise the divine will, man must follow the Shari'ah. To live in Islam is to live according to the Shari'ah. To give up the Shari'ah or any part of it knowingly, wilfully or deliberately is to give up Islam. A Muslim must therefore do his utmost to observe and to implement the whole of it, wherever and in whatever situation he finds himself. Hence the Muslim insistence, persistence, commitment and passion for it.
Specifically, I explained Parkinson's Law (Work expands to fill the time allotted) and Ward's Correllary (Work is compressible). I showed diagrams and survey results which claimed that most DoD projects could actually be done in half the time. Then I asked a question:
"Could you finish your SCOPE project early if you had to?" (SCOPE is a year-long engineering project for seniors). There was some slightly uncomfortable-sounding laughter, and lots of nodding heads. The consensus was "Yes, we could finish early."
One brave student pointed out that even if they finished early, they'd probably just be given more work to do, to fill in the rest of their time. For a moment, the room was gripped by two false beliefs 1) They need permission to finish early and 2) They need to tell the professor if they finish early.
So I asked a few more questions "Could you finish your project a month early if it meant you could do what ever you want with that month? What if you finished early and just didn't tell anyone?" That got a lot of applause, and a big nod from Prof Barrett, the director of the SCOPE program. I pointed out that nobody could stop them from finishing a month ahead of schedule, then goofing off.
I wonder if any of them will do it...
30 January 2007
"Studies of ice and seabed cores reveal that temperature rise and fall is heavily correlated with changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations. But it's a chicken-and-egg problem. Are Co2 rises and falls a cause of climate change or an effect?"
Remember, correlation does not prove causality.
I'm not denying that increased levels of CO2 contribute to climate change, nor that we're pumping too much pollution into the atmosphere. I'm just objecting to the fact that the question of causality doesn't seem to be asked. It looks like we see correlation and assume causality. That's bad logic and bad science.
My gut says yes, but I haven't been able to craft a solid case for it yet. I'm interested in hearing your opinions, theories, experiences or experiments. Do micromanagers tend to overvalue complexity, or am I off base here?
Here's what I'm thinking so far. Since micromanagement tends to be about trusting one's self more than one's subordinates, micromangers might prefer complexity because their understanding of complex systems / technologies / processes / etc is greater than their subordinate's understanding, which reinforces the perceived need for their involvement ("Here, this is complicated and I know how to do it, so let me just do it for you...").
Other thoughts? Stories?
29 January 2007
26 January 2007
The harmonica is the perfect instrument for me... and perhaps the most perfect musical instrument ever invented. Here's why:
Unlike the piano, it is small and easy to carry around, yet capable of producing a rich and loud sound.
Unlike drums, woodwinds, piano, stringed intruments, etc... it does not require great dexterity (or ambidexterity), nor difficult techniques in order to produce pleasing sounds.
Unlike the guitar, it doesn't hurt your fingers to play the harmonica (no callouses needed).
Unlike almost every other type of instrument, it is inexpensive.
It can play a wide range of music, from jazz to blues to pop to spiritual. It can sound playful and funny or it can sound mournful and earnest. Serious musicians like Stevie Wonder and Blues Traveler do amazing things with the harmonica.
While mastery of the harmonica (like everything) takes years, amateur-level competence on the harmonica seems well within the grasp of a dabbler willing to invest just a little bit of time.
And unlike the guitar, or even the tambourine, when you're playing the harmonica, nobody expects you to sing along...
25 January 2007
* Someone once made the off-handed comment that you cannot write a poem just by repeating the same word over and over again. Naturally, I took that as a personal challenge (“Oh yeah? Watch me!”).
Maybe he was right, since I did add a few bits here and there (the O in COOL and the CADABRA in line 5). Still, collaborate is arguably the most important word in program management, so if I had to pick one word to write a program management poem with, that’s what it would be.
What a remarkable group of students. They were a lot of fun to hang out with, and their questions were both insightful and mature. I learned a lot, and have a few new tweaks and additions to make to the Simplicity Cycle.
I'm thinking about putting it together as a little book... and at Olin, they're talking about putting it on a t-shirt. How cool is that!
22 January 2007
The site has a collection of fun links related to the books, samples of the artwork, and (of course) links to places where you can buy the books. Check it out when you get a chance...
19 January 2007
After applying some numbing gel to the gum, he gave the tooth a little wiggle and out it came. Jenna said "ow," the dentist said "done," and we were on our way home with the tooth securely held in a little pink treasure box. No tears, no problem. I was impressed.
18 January 2007
17 January 2007
The coffee it produces is dark, rich, hot and tasty. I love it.
I don't use it everyday, 'cause it does take a bit longer and as I said, it makes a smallish serving. But on the weekends in particular, it's a great way to start the morning.
16 January 2007
12 January 2007
11 January 2007
A few years back, I taught myself how to draw. My objective was to be able to sketch a face that looks reasonably like the face I was doing the sketch from. It was a lot of fun, and I eventually got fairly decent at it... and once I hit that point, as is my habit, I set the pencils aside and moved on to other things.
In 2007, I'm going to re-engage with the paint. Watercolors, to be precise (and I seldom am). Now that I've got an office with a door that closes, I'm planning to spend at least one lunch-break each week, playing around and seeing what sort of marks I can make on the paper. The above shot is one of my first attempts.
09 January 2007
I was recently invited to participate in a beta test for a site called Scribd. It's a site that lets you share and find documents online, and I've uploaded both The Boomer Sisters Meet Champy and Meet The Boomer Sisters.
It would be cool if you click on those links (at least one of 'em) and give me a vote... And maybe even upload a document or two of your own!
08 January 2007
Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at the time by experiment or private judgment, I am firmly of the opinion that I was born on the 29th of May, 1874...
"we never thought of doing anything with them, except enjoying them. It has sometimes struck me as not being a bad thing to do with things."
"When I look back on these things, and indeed on my life generally, the thing that strikes me most is my extraordinary luck."
"What is really the matter, with almost every paper, is that it is much too full of things suitable for the paper."
Prince, when I took you goblet tall
And smashed it with inebriate care,
I knew not how from Rome and Gaul
You gained it; I was unaware
It stood by Charlemagne's great chair
And served St. Peter at High Mass.
I'm sorry if the thing was rare;
I like the noise of breaking glass.
05 January 2007
As I understand it, modern Iraq is essentially an artificial state, created in the aftermath of WWI. You don't need to pay much attention to the news to know that the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis don't like each other very much. I wonder if they might get along better if they each had their own places.
The Kurds basically have a semi-autonomous state already. I realize Turkey might get nervous about an independent Kurdish state on their border, since Turkey currently contains what is arguably Kurdish land.
The Sunni - Shiite balance of power in the region would no doubt be changed if Iraq split into a Sunni state and a Shiite state... somebody would end up allied with Iran, no doubt. Would that be worse (for the US) than what's happening now?
Of course, the big question is how to split the oil revenues. That's the question now, and that would be the question if Iraq became 2 or 3 new countries.
It's all quite messy, to be sure, and it's hard to predict exactly what would happen if they were allowed to split up. Ultimately, it's really too bad so many people in Iraq would rather blow each other up than co-exist. Maybe it's time to send them to their own corners, to cool off a bit. They could leave the reunification option open for the future, but it seems like it might be a bit premature to do it now.
But as I said, figuring out how to share all that oil would be difficult...
04 January 2007
03 January 2007
What should you do if you think you've been given an illegal order? First, ask for clarification. Maybe the order was unclear, or you didn't understand it.
If you still think the order is illegal, try to get it withdrawn.
If that doesn't work, you must disobey it.
Just a few quick notes:
- Congrat's to my great friends Chris Quaid and Michele Weslander, on their wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and a fun party afterwards, and I'm so glad I was able to attend!
- I am renewing my usual New Years Resolution: Don't Hit The Ground Running. That is, I plan to ease back in to my usual pace, rather than go from zero to 60 in one day (or one week). Wish me luck...
- The Gillette Fusion is the best shave I've ever had (got some in my stocking). Now, I'm not particularly picky about razors, or even really interested in them, and I'm not a metrosexual or anything, but doggone, that's a remarkably close shave that lasts all day. Their website is interesting - not sure whether I like it or not, but it's interesting...
- G.K. Chesterton's Autobiography is amazing (no surprise there). It's funny, insightful, easy to read, engaging, and everything you would expect a book by GKC to be. Other great reads lately: A Wrinkle In Time, The Starbucks Experience, Finding Serenity, and Beggars In Spain (sorry - you'll have to find your own links).
- My second children's novel, The Boomer Sisters Meet Champy, is finished and in stores now. Well, it's in stores in Plattsburgh NY, where most of the action takes place. Getting it into other stores is one of my other goals for 2007.
I hope you all had a great holiday season, and I look forward to continuing this blog conversation in the months to come!