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You probably made a mistake.
You were searching for deep and meaningful insights into to the most troubling and profound questions concerning the perilous state of the human condition in the early 21st century - in 30 words or less.
Wrong place - try the back of your favorite cereal packet - or twitter.
I wrote my first book (a gruesomely complex technical work called Pro DNS and BIND) in 2005. I was the hardest work I ever did and I enjoyed it immensely. Go figure.
This site is dedicated to my ramblings on a variety of topics. All of which probably amount to a hill of beans.
It is about things that interest me. If they interest you also that is good and I am happy. If they don't, well, that's sad, but not terminal in either your life or mine.
My motivation for writing on the web started in a very simple way: I found myself researching, for the third time in my life, some arcane technology subject and vowed I would never do it again. Life is just too short for that nonsense. I decided to put the research on a private web site where I would always be able to find the data, then I decided to clean up the research so that I would stand a chance of being able to understand it when I came to need it again - as I inevitably would. And then I added to it as I stumbled across more information. And finally I decided if I found it useful perhaps others would also, so I made it public. That first web page alone is still accessed around 10,000 times per month and is still growing. Now, over 15 years later, there are over 3,000 pages of data. So I now write on the web because:
I know where the data is, and I can find it again. Occasionally, I can even understand it.
The search engines can find the data - meaning that others may also be able to find it and, perhaps, even find it useful. If, in turn, they are incented to add their own knowledge to the web then I, and others, will be able to find it and benefit in turn. We all need to stand on the shoulders of others to be able to see further.
Accumulation of knowledge is incremental. One of the great things about the web, especially, is that we can add (or even correct) information as we discover more. Or as readers offer fresh insights into existing data. Knowledge has become dynamic and, over time, the sum of knowledge increases.
Web authors have many motivations for writing. Too often their motivations are impure. The worst are the high-priests - this type author goes so far and then withholds key information to re-enforce their superiority of knowledge. Why bother writing in the first place. A simple sentence like "I'm smarter than you" would save a lot of time and trouble. The second worst are the obfuscators - authors who see their job as being to explain things in a way that's incomprehensible to we unwashed masses. Increasingly, I take the view that these authors, frankly, don't fully understand the topic themselves. After all the test of whether you understand a subject is that you must be able to explain it in clear simple language. And that goes for Enstein's Special Theory of Relativity as well. I always try (I may not always suceed) when I write to remember how it felt when I was trying to scale that big mountain.
I like breaking icons. It seems increasingly fashionable to wallow in ignorance and to accept conventional wisdom as having being handed down on tablets of stone. Rather, we should take the time to understand fully before accepting something as a immutable law of nature. Not to do so is to take to the road to tyranny. Best to have a unruly, but informed, citizenry than dumb, docile dopes. Wasn't this what the Enlightenment was all about.
So, if you are interested, here is a list of things that interest me:
Tech Stuff: I spend my daylight hours up to my neck in computer/network goobledegook. I specialize in DNS and LDAP technologies but use and document a lot of ancilliary technology. I write about technology simply because I rarely find answers that are completely helpful anywhere else. If that sounds arrogant it is not meant to be. It is a simple statement of fact.
Economics: Our lives are determined by economics. It's just too important to be left to economists. I get more than a little ticked off when I read an economics article or opinion piece which relies on selective data to justify a position. Why be a spoil-sport and allow facts to get in the way of opinion. And have I mentioned that I hate regurgitation of 'conventional wisdom' (in J. K. Galbraith's gorgeous phrase).
Baby-boomer Generation: Probably the first generation to mature (if such a word applies to this generation) in a time of unbelievable plenty yet raised by a generation who had known ecomonic hardship (the depression of the 30's) and peril (World War II). They worked to give us a better life and we did, exactly what, with the opportunity? Yes, I feel the guilt. Perhaps it's just age.
Music, Dance and Tango: Music plays a big part in my life. Give me Blues, Jazz, Classical, Opera, ethnic music - anything, in fact, that speaks to the deeper meaning in life and I'm in another place. And dance? Because if there is any rhythm in the music you have to move to it. That's my definition of dance - a compelling need to move to music - anything else is merely gymnastics. I came to tango through its music. The tremendous breadth and diversity from the most melancholic tango to the most rumbustuous milonga or candombe. I started to learn the piano at the age of 63. I'm not a natural musician. It's hard, hard work but I had always promised myself that one day, when there was time, I would do it. Carpe diem. But it's also comforting to know that I did not deprive the world of a great musical talent by leaving it so late in life.
Writing: I enjoy writing. I find it very difficult. One of my objectives is to experiment with writing style and form to achieve various purposes. This site is my chosen vehicle. I have been doing technical writing for the web for well over a decade now. This site contains well over 3,000 pages that were my kindergarten. Time to move on.
Gardening: This was more of an accident than a genuine interest. The land was there, the time was there and I'm naturally curious. I eat few vegetables but somehow the idea of growing them seemed, well, interesting. Go figure.
For those entirely devoid of a sense of irony the site's name, hillofbeans.org, is meant to indicate that I do not take myself entirely seriously. If you you do find the occasional sliver of humor it was - mostly - intended. For if we cannot laugh at ourselves, and the occasionally dreadful business that is called life, what hope is there for sanity and the future of the species.
I am, by nature, an optimist but I fear that dark and troubling times lie just ahead. Just to end on a high note.
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Page modified: November 04 2015