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Software Engineering is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the design, development, operation, and maintenance of software.

We who make our living building and maintaining software are very much in demand, are paid well, and are expected to demonstrate the competence and skill of professionals. Sadly, not all of us are the professionals we could be. Learning programming languages does not, by itself, make one a software engineer. It is only a start. Writing code is a small part of creating, deploying, supporting, and maintaining software. As our profession transitions through the latest major paradigm shift — into a world of software systems whose data and components are distributed far and wide over high-speed networks — we must really be professional software engineers and designers, not just dabble at it. …


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Why We Cannot Kick the Can Down the Road

There is little doubt that the 25th Amendment to the Constitution could be used to remove an obviously mentally incapacitated President, if only the Vice President and the Trump-appointed Cabinet have the moral courage to do so. Unfortunately, that would only solve a part of the our Nation’s problem.

What happens in 2024 if a well-financed Donald Trump, backed by the alt-reality media, makes another run for the White House? Do we want to go through this again? Do we want to give a dark dystopian alternative reality another bite at the apple? Can we afford to give Donald Trump another chance to destroy the Constitution? …


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January 6, 2021 — A Bridge Too Far!

The Capitol of the United States was invaded for the first time since the British burned it during the War of 1812. A mob of insurrectionists was incited to invade the Capitol building by a sitting President. Our grandchildren will read about it in American History books. The only question will be whether those grandchildren will read about how American democracy was saved by patriotic public servants defending the Constitution — or how the Great Leader seized absolute power and ended the dangers of socialism, making America safe for real Americans.

This is not hyperbole. We are at a tipping point. It’s up to us to continue our experiment in democracy, despite its many flaws — or to trade it for the rule of an autocratic leader who promises to fix all our problems and to return Americans who look like him to their rightful place, whatever that means. Make no mistake. This is a scenario that has played out literally hundreds of times in history. The scene is set. Choose wisely. Once democracy is given up, the price for reestablishing it is usually paid in blood. …


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The Key to Digital Transformation

Fluency is the property of a person or a system that delivers information quickly, accurately, and with expertise. Another important attribute of fluency is the ability to understand a subject as an integrated and interrelated whole — not merely a collection of parts. The effective design and implementation of digital systems requires this perspective.

Realizing the potential of digital transformation (DX) requires fluency in all the aspects of digital transformation as well as the ability to view the digital enterprise holistically. …


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What is herd immunity and what does it mean for us?

You probably already know this, but I keep hearing that herd immunity will end the COVID-19 pandemic. That is true, but herd immunity is not free. We have to pay for it by getting vaccinated or with lost human lives. I’m not spouting propaganda. In my younger days, I studied Biology at Brown and was trained as a Biological Warfare officer (defense, not offense) in the Army. I know the meaning of the terminology and I know how to run the numbers.

Herd immunity, more properly called group immunity, is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection — either through vaccination or previous infections — thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity.


Trump and Trumpism Are the Lineal Descendants of McCarthy and McCarthyism — What Will You Do About It Now that Trump Has Lost?

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Despite his specious bleating, Donald Trump has lost his bid for reelection. Will you let him take the Country and the Republican Party down with him? Trump’s legal and political mentor was Roy Marcus Cohn, an American lawyer best known for being Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel during the Army–McCarthy hearings in 1954, for assisting with McCarthy’s theatrical hearings on suspected communists, and as his top political fixer. …


How the political need to preserve the economy has had the opposite effect

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“The economy, stupid” is a phrase coined by James Carville during the successful 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton. It is still true and American politicians ignore it at their peril. Except in times of war, the state of the economy is always the issue most important to the most voters. The global COVID-19 pandemic adds complexity but does not negate the phrase. Polls indicate that more than 50% of potential voters consider it their primary concern.

The Trump administration and campaign are acutely aware of the importance of the economy to the President’s re-election. That concern has had an enormous affect on the administration’s response to the pandemic. Fear of the pandemic’s effects on the economy has led to management by denial, obfuscation, wishful thinking, and self-delusion. The inconvenient truth is that, no matter how devoutly the President and his supporters might wish it, the economy cannot possibly return to any degree of normalcy until the COVID-19 infection rate is brought under control — and each and every attempt to reopen economic activity without effectively managing the pandemic has been, and will sadly be, doomed. …


What do we really want our country to be?

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Please think about what you personally want America to be— not what partisan politicians tell you to want.

I want a country that provides its citizens equal opportunity to exploit their talents and labor in order to live a satisfying life and meet their personal needs (all very subjective). Wasting human capital is poor economics.

For very practical reasons, I want a country that provides all of its citizens with adequate medical care, regardless of their wealth. If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it is that no modern developed nation can afford not to have universal health coverage.

I want a country that invests in the education of its citizens so that society can benefit from their abilities and talents. We have to fix public education and we have to make higher education available to all who are qualified. …


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What’s Broken in America

Andy, I agree with what you say. I just don’t agree how it happened and what we need to do about it. Both political parties have been complicit in turning our financial system into a welfare system for the ultra rich. Given our campaign finance system and the general voter apathy (<45% turnout in the 2016 Presidential Election) we have in America, no other result was likely.

Obama was the first Democrat for whom I ever voted. I think he did a pretty good job overall, but I believe that his greatest failing was listening to Larry Summers on how to structure his recovery package. Getting advice from a wolf when you’re trying to save the sheep is a chancy proposition. The whole economic recovery was also upset by the rise of the Tea Party dupes in the mid-term elections. …


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A Study in Opposites

While watching the funeral of John Lewis I was struck by how different in background, motivation, actions, and character John Lewis and Donald Trump have been. The two men, six years and four months apart in age, who both have had an enormous impact on America, could not be more opposite in almost every aspect of their being.

John Robert Lewis was born in 1940 into a family of dirt poor sharecroppers in then segregated Alabama. As a black child, he was not allowed to borrow books from the local public library. Initially planning to be a Baptist preacher, he graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee and was ordained as a Baptist minister. …

About

Dick Dowdell

I’m a US Army veteran of the Vietnam War, have a wonderful wife and family, am a working software engineer, and a committed citizen.

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