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10 Aug 2015, 08:13

Junior Citizens

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Trump Hell Toupée

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A few years ago, I was an independent consultant, doing various programming jobs for a handful of clients. I also was the project manager for a lot of the time, and was responsible for hiring and firing, making sure that people were getting things done, and that we were building quality stuff. Overall, it was a great experience, and I learned a ton.

The rates that I was hiring at were quite low. I didn’t have any control over that part of things, and so we were hiring people at $25/hr, about a quarter (or less) of what a decent engineer should have been able to get. When we did hire somebody, I always wondered why they chose to work for us, at such a low rate. We ended up with a lot of junior engineers, one guy who was scamming us, a couple really solid senior guys who knew what they were doing, and a few misfits. Some of the jobs that we would do were short, quick things that just needed to be pounded out and shipped, but I would say that more of it was longer running things, where we would rotate through two or three developers on a single project.

I noticed something funny that seemed to keep happening over and over. Whenever we had a developer come onto an existing codebase to continue development, their immediate reaction would almost always be, “this is garbage, I have to rewrite it from scratch”. The first time this happened, I was fooled, and I think that I let them go ahead and do it. After that, not so much. However, this kept happening, and it was something that I wondered about for a while.

There were a few possible reasons that someone might want to do that:

  1. They want to make themselves look good, and others look bad. They do this by putting down someone else’s work, and rebuilding the existing piece themselves.
  2. They want more billable hours, so they create tasks for themselves.
  3. They don’t understand what they’re looking at, and it seems easier to them to rewrite the thing from scratch, as opposed to making the effort to deeply understand someone else’s code.

The first two reasons were plausible, but didn’t fit the guys that I was working with. Few of them had big egos, or were insightful enough about politics to try to take this opportunity to make themselves look good. (There was one exception, but that was an obvious one.) There was plenty of work to be done, and no big limits on billable hours, as long as things were getting done. So, there was no reason to create extra work.

I landed on the third option as being the most likely. It is difficult to look at a system that someone else has built, and get to a point of understanding it and all its detail. It’s even harder when that system is incomplete, or has a number of bugs that should be addressed. It is hard when you were not around when it was built, so you might not understand why things are built in the way that they are. It takes time, effort, flexible thinking, and some amount of empathy to do this task well.

However, for all its trouble, if you keep rebuilding the thing every time you hit a bug, or the person doing the work changes, you’ll never move forward, and all of the important details in the spec will never be hammered out. Instead, you will be stuck in this endless cycle of rewrites, where little is accomplished, but that people feel like they’re doing something big and important.

Today, whenever someone comes onto a codebase, and says that it needs to be rebuilt from scratch, if that person is not a junior engineer, it’s a huge red flag for me.

There’s a reddit thread asking Trump supporters why they want to see Trump win. On Google+, +Koushik Dutta has summarized the post with some choice quotes, that I will include below:

I’m seriously thinking about voting for trump, and here is why. I firmly believe that our system of government is deeply flawed, if not completely broken. Yet we still keep voting for the same type of people. If trump wins, there’s a good chance the whole thing will collapse from his absurdity. Then maybe we could start over and build something better that works. A vote for trump is a vote for full system breakdown, which I believe is exactly what we need.

I think we probably deserve it as a people. I think maybe we have to hit rock bottom.

He’s not the president we need, he’s the president we deserve. I’m older than most of you. I remember when politicians worked together sometimes for the greater good. Now, with MSDMC and Faux News controlling the conversation, this country is so divided, nothing gets done. The whole system is what it wasn’t supposed to become. The only way to fix it is if the entire system emplodes so we can start over. That’s what Trump would do.

Because over time our entire political system has become a complete joke. It’s completely based on money. And these are just the popular mantras, but after 30 something years on this planet, I’ve decided they’re true, but for specific reasons. Seriously…how the fuck could Trump be WORSE than the parade of human turds in suits that march into the Capitol and White House every day, every year? He can’t. He can’t possibly. But the sheer fact that he’s universally hated by every one of those lying out of touch idiots makes me want to vote for him as King let alone President. Go Trump

These are people who don’t understand government deeply, and have no interest in doing so. They sit back, and complain about how bad things are, but assume that the only fix is to tear everything down and start over. I find a lot of similarities between the quotes, and the experience that I’ve described of people who don’t fully understand things desiring to rebuild instead of fix.

Perhaps we should refer to Trump supporters as Junior Citizens, for their lack of depth, experience, and understanding.

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