Occupational hazards

Kyle Lake, pastor at Universtiy Baptist Church in Waco, was electrocuted while performing a baptism yesterday. According to the AP story:

The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was stepping into the baptistery as he reached out for the microphone, which produced an electric shock . . . Water in a baptistery usually reaches above the waist, said Byron Weathersbee, interim university chaplain at Baylor University.

Boom 2.0?

Colleagues have noted lately that the software job market seems to be picking up. I’ve certainly seen an increase in the number of cold calls from recruiters, which would tend to support this observation. The next question is: are we entering another software boom?
Over at VentureBlog, investor David Hornik addresses another aspect of this issue:

Over the last couple of months I’ve noticed an increasing sense of unease in the venture community about the trend in Web 2.0 company creation and financing events. While no one is officially willing to peg it Bubble 2.0 for fear of missing the next great opportunity, I’ve been having lots of conversations with venture investors about this nagging feeling that we’ve been here before. . . So why am I now getting this increasingly uneasy feeling? I was chatting with a veteran of Bubble 1.0 recently and I think he hit on the thing that makes those of us who’ve seen this movie before most nervous. He pointed out that there are a large number of “companies” being created again for the express purpose of being acquired. I certainly have seen it.
. . .
If companies are indeed again being built for acquisition rather than independence, venture investors are in for a rude re-awakening (that will be precipitated by a very loud popping sound). While a few companies being built for acquisition will be acquired, the vast majority will ultimately run out of money and be shut down (particularly as each new Web 2.0 idea doesn’t just spawn one company but three or four). So when I hear large numbers of companies pitching themselves as excellent acquisition candidates before they’ve even gotten out of the gate I can’t help but think to myself that we are in the heart of Bubble 2.0. Sadly, only one thing follows Bubble 2.0 and that is Bust 2.0.

A new software bubble might be good for my job and compensation prospects in the short term, but I’d take a steady, healthy industry any day over another crazy boom and bust cycle.

Social responsibility and taxation

I hold the now somewhat old-fashioned belief that wealthier people should be subject to higher tax rates. It is nice to know that Warren Buffet agrees with me:

I wouldn’t support it. We have, in my view, a taxation system that’s much too flat already. If you look at the payroll tax—which is over 12% now, and that applies on the first $80,000 or $90,000 of income—Bill and I pay practically none of that in relation to our income. For the people that work for us, their tax rate in many cases is the same or even higher than my own, since the rate on capital gains and dividends was cut to 15%. What has gone on in this country in recent years is a huge benefit to the very rich and not that much relief to people down below. Frankly, I think that Bill and I should have a higher tax rate on the income we get. We pay less than half the rate that I was paying 25 years ago when I was making a lot less money. They have really taken care of the rich.

(Via Rafe Colburn)

The Geographer’s Library by Jon Fasman

I just read The Geographer’s Library by Jon Fasman. It was an enjoyable read. But one thing puzzles me. The book was full of colorful characters, except one: the protagonist. He was a young man with a bland personality who had not seen much of the world and who was not familiar with many of the cultural and historical references that are so important to the plot. I think the author did this so that the other characters would have an opportunity to explain the cultural references for the readers’ sake. But it makes for an odd protagonist who is so so passive and unmemorable compared to the other characters.

All the news that isn’t

I receive a weekly email containing links to tech business news articles from Bizjournals.com. This morning’s email contained a link to a story that I find just shocking.
The article’s thesis: as software becomes more complex, it contains more defects and is more difficult to test:

Despite ever-more sophisticated tools and procedures for spotting software problems before they imperil systems, more bugs than ever are fouling up computers. The Standish Group, a Yarmouth research firm, estimated software deficiencies cost the U.S. economy $59 billion in 2003 and says the total has been rising since.
Systems fail more often today due to the demand for “intelligent” programs that execute complicated tasks instantaneously. But new theories on software development are becoming mainstream, ending what some believe is a vicious cycle of escalating system failures — and perhaps create a virtuous cycle for vendors who can anticipate bugs before they are ever born, rather than rooting them out after the fact.

And if that thesis alone isn’t enough to rock your world, the reporter dug deep to find new and relevant examples of such problems: the Y2K bug and the 2003 Northeast blackout.
Boy, this article took some first-class reporting.

Drunken paranoid ramblings

Yesterday, Michael Behe admitted in court that the standard scientific definition of ‘theory’ was too narrow to include Intelligent Design. John Scalzi makes this awesome comment about this development:

The only value to this whole thing so far is that it got Behe to admit that in order to get ID to work, you have to cheat — you have to make words mean different things than what they mean. You know, the science community already has a word for the new, more lax definition of “theory” Behe wishes to promote: it’s called a hypothesis. Should Behe manage to get his way and change the definition of “theory,” what becomes of the word “hypothesis”? Is it demoted? Discarded? Given a nice gold watch for its years of service to the scientific community and then taken behind the barn to be plugged with a shotgun? And if is merely demoted, then what will become of the phrase “drunken paranoid ramblings?” That phrase has nowhere else to go.

And you read this entry because you thought I was writing my own drunken paranoid ramblings, didn’t you?