Victor Rozek's award-winning and thought-provoking "Out of the Blue" column was consistently one of the best things to read in any IT publication on the market. We are pleased to add his voice and thoughts about the computer industry and the world at large in this column, which runs once a month in The Four Hundred. That's Victor above with his other half, Kassy Daggett.
December 10, 2018 Victor Rozek
My father once bought a house in San Francisco for $15K and change. By any measure it was a modest home, three bedrooms, one bath, 1,300 square feet, located in a lower-middle class district in the Upper Mission. Working class blue-collar families lived there, and our neighborhood was chockfull of diversity long before that word became both fashionable and divisive. Just on our block we had German, Mexican, Italian, Polish, and Chinese families. Kids played in the streets, and at dinnertime front doors opened and mothers called for their children in thickly accented English.
One of the unique characteristics of …Read more
November 7, 2018 Victor Rozek
(Sponsored Content) Imagine for a moment that you’re on a floundering ship, surrounded by angry water. You look around for a lifeboat only to discover they are stored below deck, in the vessel rather than hanging off the side where they might actually prove useful.
But that effectively describes an equally chancy IT practice: conducting system-monitoring activities from within the system. When the digital waters rise, the value of a monitoring method vulnerable to a variety of server and facility mishaps greatly diminishes. Once disaster strikes, there is ample irony but scant comfort in restarting monitoring operations after …Read more
November 5, 2018 Victor Rozek
As all evangelists before and since have been compelled to do, 19th century preacher Dwight Moody gave some advice to the young. “Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens,” he said. “A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.”
The start-early portion of Moody’s advice is well intended but wildly unrealistic. Teenagers have no more comprehension of life after retirement than elephants have of space travel. Besides, when life’s essentials are steadily provided for you, there’s little to suggest that someday they might cease to be. Regardless, the …Read more
October 8, 2018 Victor Rozek
While Congress, by constitutional fiat, may not abridge your right to free speech; your employer can and does. Of necessity, corporations worry about being accused of tolerating or, worse, promoting a hostile work environment. And because harassment laws draw no practical distinctions between sexual innuendo and pornography, or religious advocacy and political endorsement, or insults and threats, or jokes, cartoons, or any other form of expression for that matter, corporations generally wish you’d just shut the hell up.
Legally, corporations are liable for the aggregate of all their employees’ speech.
Even something seemingly benign, if repeated often enough by enough …Read more
September 17, 2018 Victor Rozek
One of the consequences of being wildly successful is that others are eager to imitate you. In a culture worshipful of winners and disdainful of losers, nothing, it seems, guarantees credibility quite as much as raging success. Whether expounding on mangos or mergers, the opinions of the successful always receive rapt attention. Their brains are picked, their writings analyzed, and every budding entrepreneur wants to harness the secrets of their success.
So when Jeff Bezos, arguably the most successful man on the planet, says that hiring the right people is “the single most important element” in ensuring Amazon’s continued success, …Read more
August 6, 2018 Victor Rozek
Only two days in, my stay in Lassen Volcanic National Park was cut short by vanishing stars. Evidently the “new normal” knows no boundaries and has no respect for vacationers. It seems that every year now, there are fires, terrible fires, consuming the West. In Redding, California, 50 miles west of the park, 966 homes and six people were lost. More are missing. Over 90,000 acres of drought-stressed brush remain ablaze. As of this writing, 38,000 residents may have to be evacuated as swirling winds are spreading flames in all directions.
But in the distant mountains I knew nothing of …Read more
July 16, 2018 Victor Rozek
To a greater or lesser degree, we all wear a necklace of expectations – our own and those of others. As each bead is added and the expectations grow, the cumulative weight can either feel reassuring, like having an instruction manual for your life, or crushing, like a stone.
For the most part, expectations are well intended, and from an early age they serve as a social template for responsible citizenship. In Western countries, the basics include: graduating from high school; going to college; getting a degree; finding a job; getting married; buying a house; and having children. Broadly speaking, …Read more
June 11, 2018 Victor Rozek
I have a garage so full of stuff my car winters outdoors. For all I know, D.B. Cooper stashed his loot in there, which is why it has never been found. After a fruitless hour searching for a power washer attachment, I would have been happy to set the whole mess ablaze.
If the first half of my life was about acquiring stuff, the second half is about trying to get rid of it. Without much success. Abundance, of course, is not the worst difficulty ever to befall humankind, but like too much of any good thing, indulging yourself is …Read more
May 7, 2018 Victor Rozek
I’m part Neanderthal. No, that’s not just my wife’s opinion. Nor is it an unkind conclusion based on observation, although that could be open to debate. In fact, my wife is part Neanderthal, too, a data point that invites further comment but could only get me into trouble.
The bearer of this startling revelation is an organization long celebrated for its examination of such diverse, yet interconnected subjects as history, culture, science, and the environment. Its playground was, and continues to be, planet Earth. From its early days as a sponsor of exploration; to producing a publication so beloved that, …Read more
April 16, 2018 Victor Rozek
By all accounts, Neville Chamberlain was a clever man. Clever enough to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. But it turned out he was also stunningly naïve, signing the Munich Agreement granting Germany the right to annex the Czech Sudetenland in return for a promise of peace, thus emboldening one of history’s great monsters, Adolf Hitler.
The consequences of extreme cleverness and dangerous naiveté play out across the entire spectrum of human interactions, but are perhaps most visible in politics and business. The pursuit of power and money invites troves of uber-clever people who all too soon become enamored …Read more