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[tlug] [OT] Specialized insects and Linux [C&C ja nai ka?]

Executive summary: there's nothing here that an executive needs to
read.  Go ahead and enjoy anyway. :-)

Benjamin Kowarsch writes:

 > [Jack of all trades] would seem to have the same net effect [as
 > extreme specialization].

That turns out to be false.  In fuzzy set theory the set with zero
members is not the same as a set which has members, all of which have
zero membership in the set.  Weird[1] but true.  Only a specialist could
come up with that!  I'm glad that such people exist and write down their
crazy specialized knowledge.

 > Interestingly, there does not seem to be any equivalent derogative for
 > specialists

Some are close: "ivory tower academic."  "Cobbler, stick to your last"
[because you're no good for anything else].  "Can't see the forest for
the trees" and "tunnel vision" are related.

By the way, I *personally* actually feel "jack of all trades" to be
mildly complimentary, despite the implied, derogatory, "master of
none."  Better to have tried, and failed, than not to have tried at
all.  (See, there is a difference that isn't pure philosophical BS!)

 > which is probably an indication that our society is biased in
 > favour of -- shall we call them -- single-talented people.

If by "our society" you mean Japan, that is demonstrably false,
despite the education system.  Although in employment in the Japanese
entertainment industry, most are extreme specialists, in practice you
can't get anywhere (including "idolatry") without being able to sing
*and* act *and* dance.  Even the "klutz comedians" (who often can't
talk, let alone walk and chew gum at the same time) have to be pretty
strong, brave, and attractive in some sense:  one of them claims to
have broken bones in the ordinary course of work more than 10 times,
is married, and has female stalkers, though no assassination attempts
on him (or his wife) yet. ;-)

You'll also note that most of the folks in elites anywhere have beauty
(or at least are not beastly), bucks, and (a modicum of) brains (if
only in the form of book learning).  Of course the brains and beauty
can be purchased with bucks, and frequently are (eg, a majority of TV
announcers) -- precisely because they're very helpful in getting
around as a member of the elite, not to forget achieving membership in
the first place.  *Society* values multitalented people highly AFAICS.

The problem is that the *economics* of "civilized"[2] society strongly
favors specialization for the masses.  Few people are able to do more
than a very few jobs at levels of skill that the market is willing to
compensate, and the fraction that could turn their hands to almost
anything and make a good living is miniscule.  *We* dislike
specialization because on the one hand most of the folks who use Linux
and participate in LUGs are members of the "few" (consider how many
TLUGgers have experience as employees, contract workers, independent
consultants, *and* have founded businesses), and on the other even we
feel confined by the fact that a very few of our own skills are
compensated at levels that impose extreme financial sacrifice if we do
something else (that we might enjoy more).

And then there's current government policy, as in (DJ) Abe-no-mix and
Monkeyshow[3], which are now deprecating "liberal arts education" as
quickly as they can.  Eg, reducing both available research budgets for
"bunkei" subjects including economics and business[4], and enforcing
competition for them by coalescing field definitions.

 > Robert A. Heinlein is credited with the quote:
 > “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher
 > a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts,
 > build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders,
 > cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure,
 > program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die
 > gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

I agree, especially after dealing with the subspecies Academo ivoriens
japonica for 25 years.  But note that the character who said it is
"Lazarus Long," who was over 1000 years old at that point.  It's kind
of unfair to compare anyone with him. :-)  Think of all the time he had
for practice!  Not to mention free resurrections.

Anyway, on this topic I think Janet Kagan is more realistic than that
old fascist.[5]  From Hellspark:

    "We hire people to do specific jobs in specific areas.  They have
    done them."

    No Scheveschkem sea captain could have said that: In an emergency,
    the cook lowers the mainsail.

And on a cautionary note, from Masque World by the inimitable Alexei

    Every human being who has ever lived has extended the range of the
    species.  There isn't one among us who hasn't thought, said, or
    done something unique.  New ideas, new recipes, new fashions.  New
    tunes, new games, new places for people to play.

    Since Jerzy McBe was human, he, too, had extended the range of the
    species, but not by much.  He had his limitations.

Embrace Linux and extend. ;-)

Doku-zetsu-gei-nou-jin-ly y'rs,

[1]  The technical explanation is that the "topology" of fuzzy set
theory is broken because it doesn't properly fuzzify equality.  There
are toposes that get this right but they don't behave the way many
fuzzy set users want them to.  Insects, all of you!

[2]  The word originally means "citified" IIRC.

[3]  MEXT, aka Monbukagakusho, aka Ministry of Education etc.

[4]  Yes, it's *my* ox being gored, so take my complaint with a grain
of salt, but consider: why does a country whose economy is doing so
much less for its citizens than it could, turn around and deprecate
the people who could actually help if they were asked for help?

[5]  RAH clearly thought that civilized law-abiding society was a good
thing -- for other people to participate in.

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