Allocation and Consequence

Pigeon FeathersThis weekend, I found the consequences of a hawk catching a pigeon in my driveway. It basically looked as though a grenade had blown it to pieces.  There were about a hundred and fifty feathers spread all over, strangely, there was not much red in the picture. This led me to a few thoughts on economics.

Also, this weekend, a couple of friends of mine, were having an extremely esoteric argument about version control systems. This is all the rage in programming right now.

It is wonderful that we have enough free time to discuss these obscure topics, but it is also one of the primary reasons that economists are led to believe that they are the only ones thinking about the “important” or “real” problems.

Seeing the pigeon, bothered me in a strange way, perhaps that I am not thinking about the important problems enough. Second, it’s body was completely annihilated, it is rare that we humans are left like that. Even if we die from a car accident or cancer, our bodies are usually left in tact for a funeral and burial. Humans like to control this process. To leave another human to be eaten by an animal is an insult to our pride. We are obsessed with the process.

The free spirited mind spends so much time thinking and arguing about the minutia, but in the end success or failure is binary, life or death. It is similar to how kittens play, while adults hunt and defend.

Your business and/or professional model must work or you will die. You can struggle all you want and still, indeed, fail. There is nothing wrong with incorporating new thoughts and techniques into your hunt, but do not place too much time and energy into fine tuning means to an end, while loosing sight of the end. In fact, we all fail eventually!

3 Comments

  1. fantastic post!

    Do you think other professions argue about the means of getting work done as much as programmers do?

    I wonder if carpenters rant and scream about the right way to store hammers on a shelf, or if plumbers get drunk and yell at each other about test-driven clog removal.

  2. In a manner I agree. Most of what you said is true. And as a general rule, programmers tend to spend too much time being religious than pragmatic. That said, the very fact that we are capable of complex abstract thoughts are what made us so good at “hunting” in the first place. We have the extra time to come up with these thoughts in order to continue our lineage due to the thought and debate of our fathers.

    The problem with economists always thinking that “unproductive thoughts” are useless is that they fail to realize that our whole species and society are built off of the successes of multiple failures. Many more failures than successes. It is uniquely human that we are able to meta think our new ideas and come to failures before we even start. This is what debate and conversations are all about. The ability to abstract possible outcomes to a given action. Without this ability our success as individuals and as a species would have been slowed to a crawl.

    That said, programmers (myself included sometimes) can go way overboard. It’s a tool people. Just because I use DeWalt doesn’t mean that your Bosch is any better or worse for your project. Do what you want, and be willing to learn new tools. Arguing which DVCS is better is dumb. Just agree that it’s better than CVCS.

    ~Pat

  3. At last! Someone who undresatdns! Thanks for posting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *