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.
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
March 12, 2018 Victor Rozek
The African continent, perhaps more than any other, has been blessed with abundant resources and cursed by relentless exploitation. From ivory to slavery, oil to diamonds, foreign powers rushed in to strip the continent of its wealth. Over the last three centuries, arguably not a single African nation escaped some form of colonialism.
The first wave of exploitation was decidedly European. Germany, England, France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, and Italy carved up the continent. America was the central buyer in the slave trade, and remained to become the principal seller in the arms trade. Today, the United States maintains a military …Read more
February 12, 2018 Victor Rozek
An editor at MAD Magazine once joked that the “E” in Alfred E. Neuman probably stood for “Enigma” because no one actually knew what it stood for. Well, maybe it stands for “Entertaining” because the magazine features some wicked satire. Whatever his middle name, Neuman has graced the magazine cover since its inception in 1961. And, as an unanticipated satirical bonus, it turned out that with his boyish-bumpkin looks and deep insights (“What, me worry?”) he bore an uncanny resemblance to George W. Bush.
One of the popular features in MAD is Spy vs Spy – a wordless cartoon that …Read more
January 15, 2018 Victor Rozek
It’s a new year and hope again rears its fickle head. Gyms are full of bulging spandex, as the clanging of free-weights punctuates the incessant whir of stationary bikes. Bad habits, so recently embraced, are once again under attack. Like truth in White House press briefings, they have become an unhealthy indulgence that needs to be banished. We’ll be drinking less, exercising more, and eating smaller quantities of just the right foods. And since we’re sober and thinking clearly, we’ll save more money and quit obsessing about how many people love us on social media.
For a few months, at …Read more
December 11, 2017 Victor Rozek
Thirty years ago I read something that stayed with me all these years because it delivered the slap of sobering truth. I read it in an environmental journal, and I regret the lack of attribution, but the quote went something like this: “A time will come when environmental degradation will simply continue, with or without our participation.”
That prospect had never occurred to me. I had assumed there would always be time to turn things around. That sooner or later people would come to understand the severity of the damage being done to the Earth, and would chart a more …Read more
November 13, 2017 Victor Rozek
In an era when information circles the globe in seconds, and distant events are posted and assessed within minutes, it is unimaginable that all of humanity owes an incalculable debt to a man who essentially remains unknown – for an action that didn’t occur.
The year was 1983, a dangerous and bellicose time. Russia had just shot down a Korean Airliner with 269 people aboard, and the Cold War was still under full simmer. Khrushchev had once promised to bury the United States and now Reagan dubbed the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and vowed to “write the final pages” …Read more
October 9, 2017 Victor Rozek
Though it saddens me to say it, I’ve had the exact same experience of just about every president I can remember—regardless of party affiliation. Sooner or later, at some point during their administration, I just can’t stand them anymore.
I can’t stand to see their face on TV, or hear their voice any longer. I can’t stand the lies, the empty promises, the soaring rhetoric that produces nothing of lasting value, the threats, the chest pounding, the epic incompetence, the ability to inspire but not to lead. I can’t stand the policies they represent, the compromises they make, the triumph …Read more
September 11, 2017 Victor Rozek
When you become the richest man in the world, if only for a few hours by virtue of stock market fluctuations, you nonetheless acquire an additional layer of gravitas. Suddenly, everything you say or do has added significance. Small actions are credited with great meaning. The trivial becomes transcendent.
Which is probably why, the day after the New York Times announced that Jeff Bezos had toppled Bill Gates from his golden throne as the world’s richest man, the usually sober Business Insider gushed about his managerial prowess. The article appeared under the preposterous headline: “The ‘two pizza rule’ is a …Read more
August 28, 2017 Victor Rozek
If your IT career spanned the AS/400 years, you may be of an age when you are considering retirement. Certainly, if both your health and your bank account are reasonably robust, retirement can be as sweetly anticipated as a tax refund. The prospect of leisure and travel, or just putting a halt to the daily grind, exerts a strong gravitational pull. But reality is like the spellchecker of the imagination: it corrects misconceptions.
We are, in fact, absurdly encouraged to view decline as the Golden Years. Retirement has long been romanticized by everyone from the AARP, to financial planners, to …Read more
August 16, 2017 Victor Rozek
As anyone who has ever managed an IT installation can attest, computer technology offers equal measures of empowerment and annoyance. On one hand, computers allow us to run our businesses on a scale of complexity unimaginable just a few decades ago. Multiple platforms churn in multiple time zones, global data transfers clog the ether; and people from different cultures, speaking different languages, are able to collaborate digitally for the good of the enterprise.
On the other hand, management must perpetually contend with the aggravation of the archaic. Even the finest computers and most elegant software are cursed by the specter …Read more