My CMS The View from a New City

October 24, 2014

“As if to Demonstrate an Eclipse”

Filed under: Philosophy — Lawrence Peterson @ 9:26 am

One of my favorite poems is by Billy Collins, entitled, “As if to Demonstrate an Eclipse.” Yesterday I witnessed a partial eclipse through smoked glasses. The sun and moon are very different sizes, but the moon almost perfectly covers the sun during a total eclipse. This could well be a coincidence, as modern science assumes without evidence. But it might also be a hint–a wink from beyond–that the current arrangement of things is not random; that the phrase from Genisis 1:16, “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night,” might have more behind it than mere myth and metaphor.

Punishing the Innocent

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 7:30 am

Have you noticed it? How often authorities elect to punish the entire population of innocent people to avoid doing a competent job of identifying the guilty. The security check at the airport is an example: every passenger must submit to the inconvenience and indignity of official groping and scanning to prevent the minuscule minority of terrorists from succeeding. I am frustrated every time I hear a policeman advise everyone in the population to prevent theft and burglary by making sure their houses and cars are always locked and their valuables kept out of sight; especially since, as a lawyer, I see first-hand what a poor job society does of handling the guilty once they are identified. I am aware of a large hospital chain that chose to avoid pursuing the small percentage of its patients who failed to pay their bills by allowing collection agents to grill every conscious incoming patient about their financial resources.

One of the many problems with this punish-the-innocent policy for preventing the guilty is the sheer inefficiency of it all. There must be better ways to achieve the desired result. Can’t we develop a smart bomb that will avoid all this collateral damage?

This all came to mind yesterday when I attempted to help Jeff and Vicky renew their state identification cards.  Jeff is my disabled son and Vicky is his more severely disabled wife.  At the counter, once their number had been called, Jeff presented his soon-to-expire state ID, his original birth certificate, and his original Social Security card and was granted a renewal. But Vicky over the years has misplaced her Social Security card, so she was only able to present her currently valid, picture, state Id, her original birth certificate, and an original document, issued by Social Security, that contained her name and Social Security number. Her renewal was denied because the only forms the bureaucrats at the drivers license division will accept to verify ones Social Security number are either an original Social Security card, a W2 or a 1099. Vicky will never be employed, so a W2 or a 1099 are out of the question. Vicky will now have to try to convince the workers at the Social Security office that she is who she says she is and get a new Social Security card before the drivers license division will grant her an ID. This catch 22 reminds me of a movie about Germany between the world wars called, “Der Hauptmann von Koepernick.” In Vicky’s case, their was no real question about her identity. But the bureaucrats and legislators who are bent on preventing any illegal alien from gaining a benefit they don’t deserve, have inflicted on every citizen the burden of preserving and presenting three specific, official forms of ID.

October 17, 2014

Red Letter Day

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 9:19 pm

After two weeks of hard programing, today I finished the update of the program for Peterson and Nykamp Law. I will be installing it tomorrow and Monday. But the real event of the day was delivering Barry and Katherine Wade to the airport to begin their mission to Ghana. They were cheerful and enthusiastic in spite of all the Ebola panic that has been going around lately.

October 5, 2014


Filed under: Philosophy — Lawrence Peterson @ 9:29 am

Recently, I wrote a program that manipulated client data in a large commercial database. While I wrote and tested the program, rather than trying out my code on the real data, I used what was called the sandbox.  By using the sandbox, my program read and manipulated data in a test database, not in the production database. The sandbox was a duplicate of the live data which would be refreshed periodically from the real database.  No changes to the sandbox were ever preserved in the actual database.  So, if a buggy section of test code accidentally  destroyed or corrupted data in the sandbox, no real harm was done. At the next refresh, all was restored.

I have been thinking how much this is like life.  In a world where the second law of thermodynamics rules, human actions, whether good or bad, tend to get washed away with the passage of time. Even the monuments built to last get worn away eventually. See Shelley’s Ozymandius. The conclusion I draw from this is that the world is not changed much by the people who live in it in spite of the ambitions of every young person to “change the world.” It is the people who are changed by living in the world. The world is like a sandbox where the children go to play for a while. Rainstorms wash away the fortifications and castles but the children who play there grow up and move on.  I heard that Woody Allen was once told that his movies would live on  forever, to which he is said to have replied, “I don’t want my movies to live forever–I want to live forever.” And so it is.



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