An Honest Conversation About Guns

This past weekend we had friends visit. Visiting Bloomington, Indiana, at any time is fun, but May and October are special. In May, the redbuds and dogwoods blossom, and in the fall, high color can be breathtaking. In spring, though, it’s the redbuds, and we have a lot of redbuds. They’re native, and grow at the edges of the woods. Which means along the highways. Like, on both sides, for miles.

Anyway, the fellow of the other couple and I had a late-night conversation — an honest conversation — about guns. Now he’s not anti-gun — he owns a few guns, and shooting on my private range was one of the possible activities this past weekend — but he tends liberal, and wanted to probe my position. Some of it was no doubt devil’s advocate, and he said as much, but it was interesting. I will try to reproduce much of it here.

You don’t think we need more gun laws?

No, I think we have way too many already, and they violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

But that’s in the context of a militia, and the militia is the National Guard.

No, it’s not, for two reasons. One, the same people who wrote the Second Amendment wrote the Militia Act of 1792 three years later. It defined the militia as all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45. So if you say the Second Amendment applies only to the militia, that still means everybody between 18 and 45.

Second, Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England was written about 25 years before the Constitution. It was so fundamental in its analysis of the law it is still just called Blackstone. He wrote on statutory interpretation. The Second Amendment is, in his terms, composed of a predicate clause and an operational clause. The predicate clause is those “Whereas this and whereas that” clauses that begin many acts passed by Congress. The operational clause is the “Therefore be it enacted” part. Blackstone’s formulation, and it has been followed in statutory interpretation ever since, is that the operational clause — “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” — stands alone, and the predicate clause — “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state” — is not used, unless the operational clause is ambiguous, in which case the predicate clause is used to resolve the ambiguity. The operational clause of the Second Amendment is not ambiguous.

It also says the militia has to be well-regulated, so it anticipates some regulations on guns.

No, it doesn’t. “Well regulated” at the time meant, and still does mean, “operating to a standard.” This is why clocks that were accurate enough to use to operate the railroads in the nineteenth century were called “Regulator” clocks. They kept the time to the standard specified for railroad operations. Such clocks were always marked as being Regulator clocks. So with the militia. The militia was to be organized and drilled to a standard, set by the Congress under authority of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, but the actual organization and drilling was left to the states. In any case, since it is the predicate clause, and the operational clause of the Second Amendment is not ambiguous, it isn’t relevant.


But I can own guns. How are my rights being infringed?

First, you can only own certain guns.

Well, you don’t want people having Tommy guns.

You asked how your rights under the Second Amendment are being infringed. That’s one way. You can’t own machine guns, at least not without a lot of paperwork and taxes and hoo-ha, and no more can be made for civilian use, which makes them tremendously expensive. You can’t own sawed-off shotguns, or short-barreled rifles, called SBRs.

The second way it’s being infringed is by paperwork. You have to fill out a Form 4473, and the gun store has to call the FBI and ask if it’s OK to sell you a gun.

But that’s not infringing your rights.

The hell it isn’t. A “fringe” is an edge. The Second Amendment basically says your right to keep and bear arms can’t be “edged about.” This is clear in other contexts. If you said your neighbor’s deck was infringing on your yard, you don’t mean he planked over your whole yard, or that his deck wouldn’t be infringing if it only covered half your yard. No, you mean it hangs over the property line anywhere, at all, even a couple inches. Same thing here. Words mean things. Same word, same meaning.

Look at it another way. We have freedom of religion spelled out in the First Amendment. Now if the government said, “Well, that doesn’t mean polytheistic religions, or religions that believe in reincarnation, or the Mormons, because those people are crazy,” people would go absolutely nuts. But that’s the way it is with guns. “Well, that doesn’t mean machine guns, or short-barreled rifles or shotguns.” That’s simply wrong. It’s unconstitutional on its face.

And filling out a Form 4473, and calling the FBI before selling you a gun? OK, so let’s say you need to fill out a Form 4474 before going into a church, and the priest has to call the FBI for permission every time you want to receive communion. Huh? Or same thing with freedom of speech. Well, you know, normal speech like standing on a street corner is OK, but you need to fill out a Form 4475 before getting an Internet connection, and have WordPress call the FBI for approval every time you post to your blog. You know, because those “large magazine” “fully automatic” web blogs are dangerous. They could be used to overthrow the government.

You don’t think the government should have records of who buys a gun?

The government should never have any records about who buys a gun, ever. Right now, for the most part, they don’t. The stores keep the 4473s, and the government doesn’t get them and isn’t supposed to keep records on the NICS calls. But I don’t trust them. So no, the government shouldn’t have any records of gun sales.

But what if someone who isn’t in NICS as a prohibited person goes to a gun store and gets a trunkful of guns, and then goes into the city, like Chicago, say, and sells them to gang members, and one of those guns kills a child? How are they supposed to track the gun’s provenance?

I don’t care.

You don’t care if someone kills a child?

No, I don’t care what hypothetical you offer, I don’t want the government keeping records of who has guns. In the twentieth century, 15 million people worldwide were killed by criminals, and 50 million people died in wars, but 100 million people were killed by their own governments, always after they were disarmed. That is what I worry about most. That is clearly the biggest danger to me, to you, to children, to everybody. That the government knows who has guns, and goes and rounds up the guns. Once disarmed, we are, like the 100 million people killed by their own governments in the twentieth century, at the mercy of government.

Do you know how many gun murders there are in the United States per year?

I don’t know. A hundred thousand, hundred and fifty thousand, maybe.

Nope. There are about 33,500 gun deaths per year in the United States. About two-thirds of those are suicides, half of them by men over 45. There are about 500 accidental shootings, usually someone shooting himself while cleaning a gun that hasn’t been properly unloaded. Most of those are probably suicides, too, as, if you commit suicide, your wife doesn’t get the life insurance payment, but, if you ‘accidentally’ shoot yourself in the head cleaning your gun, she does.

What you get down to is about 11,000 gun homicides per year. At that rate, it would take nine thousand years to equal the 100 million people killed by their own governments in the twentieth century. Guns aren’t anywhere near as dangerous as governments.

That was mostly by communist governments, by the way. If you want to make something that’s very dangerous illegal, you should probably start with communism.

So you would have everybody walking around with a gun all the time.

If they want to. We would be safer, not less safe. If a criminal knew that, if he pulled a gun out and started shooting, five or ten or twenty people would shoot back, he wouldn’t do it. These people are cowards. When confronted with an armed response, these shooters almost always surrender or shoot themselves.

What about the Las Vegas shooting? He was too far away to hit with a handgun.

I’m not so sure. That was a country western concert. Had it not been a gun-free zone, there probably would have been two hundred or more people there carrying. You’re telling me that if two hundred people started shooting back, that somebody wouldn’t have hit him, or that he wouldn’t have stopped shooting and sought cover with bullets flying all around him?

Sounds like the Wild West, or the Roaring 20s.

The biggest, most sensational shooting in the Wild West was the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Very famous, everybody’s heard about it. Three men dead. It was written up in the San Francisco paper, 800 miles away. That’s not even a hot weekend night in the Englewood district of Chicago.

As for the Roaring 20s, the biggest gangland shooting from the period was the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in 1929. Again, very famous, everybody’s heard about it. Seven dead. It was in newspapers coast to coast. Again, when that happens in Chicago now, it barely makes the Chicago papers.

The Wild West and the Roaring 20s sound pretty good in that context.

But we have to do something.

No, we don’t. Or at least, not what you think. More people get killed by drunk drivers. Thirty times as many people get killed by medical mistakes. Go after those.

If you really want to bring shooting deaths down, give law-abiding people their Second Amendment rights back. The criminals don’t obey gun laws anyway. Get the gun laws out of the way of allowing law-abiding people to defend themselves. 98% of mass shootings since 1950 occurred in so-called gun-free zones. They’re not really gun-free zones, because the criminals carry guns into them whenever they want. What they really are is unarmed-citizen zones. No wonder they attract nut cases.

To bring gun deaths down, you need to repeal the gun laws that have driven gun deaths up.

Besides which, it’s my Constitutional right. Says so, right there: “shall not be infringed.”

Well, the Constitution isn’t hard and fast.

Oh, yes, it is. It’s a contract, among the sovereign states, from which the federal government derives all its power. Now if you want to change it, that’s fine. There’s a way to do that. Propose an amendment that would change the Second Amendment, then get that passed according to the rules. That would allow public discussion on all these issues.

And if it doesn’t pass, then the Second Amendment stands, as written.

And that means all these unconstitutional gun laws have got to go.


Where Are The Moderate Democrats?

It’s a serious question. Where are they? The ones we hear from every day are the screechers: Maxine Waters and Elizabeth Warren,  Tom Perez and Nancy Pelosi.

Some of yesterday’s moderates have taken up screeching as well, like Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein and Adam Schiff.

So where are the moderates? Where did they go? There are forty-nine Democratic senators, and one hundred ninety-two Democratic congressmen. But all we hear are the screechers.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and he gave me the answer: They’re biding their time.

The screechers are running the Democratic Party right now. They expect a big blue wave in the November election, because they just can’t imagine how anyone would ever vote Republican again after Trump. They expect to win both the House and the Senate. And their agenda is out in the open. They are running on the repeal of the Second Amendment, the repeal of the Trump tax bill, no border security, sanctuary cities, and the impeachment of the president. And they expect to win, and win big, because, well, Trump.

You know, and I know, and moderate Democrats know, there will be no blue wave in November. They are gonna get shellacked. I haven’t made specific calls on the election yet, but the Republicans will pick up seats in the Senate and easily hold the House.

Why? Well, ISIS is seriously dead because Mr. Mattis, an inspired choice if there ever was one, made it a goal to kill them. North Korea is coming to the table because we finally stopped bribing them to misbehave. Britain and France, our oldest and best allies, are working with us on trouble spots like the Mideast again. Sure, May and Macron tut-tut Trump’s verbal excesses, but they like his policies. Most of the Sunni leaders in the Mideast think Trump is great. Read what al-Sisi of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Crown Prince bin Salman of Saudi Arabia have to say about him. Their reviews of Trump are glowing. Bibi Netanyahu thinks he’s great, too. That’s a tough combo to make work.

At home, unemployment is at 4.1%, and black unemployment and Hispanic unemployment are the same as white unemployment, within the margin of error of the numbers. First time that’s ever happened. Ever. The S&P 500 is up 23% since the election, while the Dow is up almost 32%. And people’s paychecks went up as the tax cuts kicked in. The full effect of the repatriation of American companies’ profits held abroad is still to be felt, but will be accelerating into the election.

It’s still five months away, and things can and do change in politics on a dime, but the big pieces are in place and hardening. And the screechers are doubling down on a wacky-left agenda the country doesn’t want, even while their core constituencies are being eaten away by the economic success of Trump’s policies.

So the moderate Democrats are keeping their heads down. To speak up for moderation now would expose them to the vitriol of the left.

But when the Democratic Party blows up in November, they’ll be there to pick up the pieces.

Or so they hope.


Weird Thoughts About Imperfection, Human Nature, And Robotics

(a retrospective repost from Facebook, April 22, 2017)

So as everyone knows by now, I bought a new truck. We need a comfortable highway vehicle that rides nice, I need A/C because either the heart attack or the meds make me sensitive to heat where I wasn’t before, and the Scion xB is ten years old and has 90,000 miles on it. The 1978 Cheyenne 4×4 rides like a truck (duh), doesn’t have A/C, and has so much wind noise at speed on the highway that it’s like driving a shop vac — from the inside.

Basically, we have two town cars, and needed a highway car.

Now, what the 1978 Cheyenne has in spades is personality. It can be cranky in the mornings. A carbureted engine has issues until it comes up to temperature. It gets 10 miles per gallon in town. It has no ABS, or power windows, or power door locks. Even moderate acceleration is accompanied by all sorts of sound effects, and slamming on the brakes will squeal the tires. And it will do weird things, like when you pull the door shut and the handle comes off in your hand. But people would walk away from their Lexuses and Hondas and Cadillacs, and come up to me at the gas station to say what a nice truck it was, and how their grandpa had one, or their dad, and they learned how to drive in one out on the farm. They would ask me if they could look inside. “Now that brings back some memories.”

The new truck, which I picked up yesterday, is a marvel of competence. You turn the engine on, and it’s on. That’s it. It has ABS, and traction control, and stability control. It has sensors front and rear and all four corners to help you park. It has power everything. It runs the headlights — DRS, low beams, high beams, whatever. It runs the four-wheel-drive — if you start spinning the rears, it locks up the fronts for you. The suspension adjusts to the load, so when empty it rides more like a car than a truck and it corners very well. It has 12-way power seats, which are both heated and ventilated for your comfort. It accelerates stupid fast, and brakes stupid fast as well, and does both with no theatrics, almost with no sound. It is much safer, more comfortable, more reliable.

What it doesn’t have is personality. It is not the sort of thing that elicits affection. Much like the Japanese motorcycles that became ubiquitous in the 1980s, and which Harley riders demeaned as being sewing machines with wheels. “I’d rather push my Harley than ride a rice burner” read the bumper sticker, and Harley riders often did just that, while the Japanese bikes were basically unstoppable. Unlovable, but unstoppable.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a comfortable, reliable, and safe vehicle that does everything well. We need one, and we’ll enjoy having the freedom and the trust in it that those things bring. It’s just, somehow, not lovable.

Does that tell us something about ourselves? Is it the imperfections we find endearing in things? In each other?

And what then of robotics? If we manage to build avatars of ourselves, will we build them perfect and reliable? Human simulacra that never lose their temper or raise their voice, that never worry or fret, that always pick up their things, make their bed (or charger), and turn the lights off when they leave a room. That never have a bad hair day. And if we do, will they ever be anything more to us than appliances? Can they be? Will the androids we build be our friends, or will they be annoying as hell?

If we want to build artificial persons that are to serve not just as appliances, but be more our friends and companions, maybe we should build in some imperfections. Just a few. To make them human.

And I find myself sitting here wondering, in the middle of the night, if those imperfections would be configurable, and what the user interface for that would look like.

I Feel A Rant Coming On…

Yeah, it’s time. This one’s been building for a while. Strap in, kiddies.

I’ll admit this is an old man rant. You know, a “Back in my day” kind of thing. Hey, I’ve had an AARP card since 1996. I’m entitled.

That’s a word I hear a lot of today. Entitled. I also hear about how smart the kids are today. Oh, they’re so ‘woke’, and they’re so smart, and they’re so together. TIME magazine says so, so it must be true.

Maybe not so much.

When I was in high school, I started dating the same time I got a driver’s license. That was the key. Otherwise you had to have your parents drive you to go pick up your girl, which was déclassé, to say the least.

When you picked up your girl in the late 1960s — to go to a movie, or out for a pizza, or to a party — if it was summer, she was probably wearing stretchy super-short-shorts and a tube top. Yes, in 1969, that was street wear, not a swimsuit. She probably didn’t tie those laces with a knot, though. She tied them in a bow. because it’s prettier, or something. All I know is, Damn things never stayed tied.


You’d pick her up, and you’d open and hold the door for her. The driver’s door. You see, we had bench seats in almost every car at the time, and she’d pile in to the driver’s side and make enough room for you to get in alongside her, but she’d still be left of the centerline of the car. Yes, there’s plenty of room for my 143-pound stringbean sixteen-year-old self to get in between her and that far car door.


Of course, you’d have to teach her how to shift. First, there’s no way you can reach the shifter with her plastered up against you and your arm around her shoulders. You’d take her head off. Second, you have to teach her how to shift because she’s maybe fourteen or fifteen years old, and doesn’t know how to drive yet. So you gotta teach her three-on-the-tree, and coach her in which gear you want as you go until she gets the hang of it.

Seat belts? Oh, yeah, we had ’em, and we used ’em. Of course, the seat belts in a car are big enough to get around my current fat-ass sixty-five year old self, and I outmass my sixteen-year-old self and my high school girlfriend taken together, so we’d just use the driver’s belt around us both. There was one for the middle seat on a bench seat, too, but that was way to the right of where she was sitting, so we both used the driver’s belt. You wouldn’t want her to be un-seatbelted, after all. That’d be dangerous.

So where would you go on a date? Pizza maybe. And a movie. A drive-in movie. What’s a drive-in movie? Well, they put a really big movie screen outdoors, and you sit in your car in the parking lot and watch the screen. The parking spots have sort of a hump for the front wheels, so the car is tipped up in the front so you can see the screen, even if you’re in the back seat, and there’s a little speaker you hang in the window. So you’d sit with your girl, dressed in her short-shorts and tube top, on a bench seat the size of a single bed, and watch the movie. More or less. You might even get into the back seat, or at least slide over to the passenger side of the car, because then the steering wheel isn’t in your way.

Of course, they would turn out the parking lot lights when the movie started. You have to be able to see the screen after all.

Drive-in movies were often double-features — two movies, four hours — because there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.


What do we have now?

Well, the drive-ins are, for the most part, gone, for lack of business. People go to the cineplex now, and sit in a room full of strangers. Bench seats are gone, too. Where the hot car to have in 1969 was a big Chrysler with huge bench seats, the hot car to have now is apparently a tiny little drifter car with bucket seats and a (automatic) shifter between. And the short-shorts and tube tops have been replaced with I-don’t-know-what. Something less, um, fun.

Not that it matters much, I guess. We went out to eat last night, and the couple at the next table were sitting there working their cell phones. I don’t know. When they get excited, maybe they text moans to each other.

So let’s review. They traded away drive-in movies for watching movies in a big room with a thousand other people, they traded away a big comfy bench seat for isolated tiny bucket seats and a cup holder, and they traded away short-shorts and tube tops for whatever.

Oh, and they apparently have a hard time telling boys from girls. Not that it matters much, I guess, given everything else they lost.

Smart? Don’t sound smart to me. Sound like a bunch of morons.

And I’m supposed to respect their opinion on civil rights? My civil rights, including my rights under the Second Amendment?

Figure out sex first, kids, then you can take up something complicated.

Like public policy.


Weird Thoughts About Stress

Stressed out? I have a stupid simple stress reliever for you. First, let’s talk about the most likely source of your stress.

The human animal is pretty simple, and for millennia had little stress of the mental sort. What do I do next? Eat? Sleep? Eliminate? Procreate?  (You may supply the Anglo-Saxon terms if you wish.) That was about it. Yes, food might be scarce, and, for much of human existence, it was, but that’s not where modern man’s mental stress comes from.

Modern man’s mental stress, I maintain, comes from all the things we have to do. What do I do next? Eat? Sleep? Pay bills? Check emails? Write that paper that’s due next week? Go to that meeting that’s scheduled? When do I need to be there? What’s the travel time? How much time do I leave at the airport? What do I need to pack? And on and on an on.

The result is that we spend much of our time spinning our mental wheels. “Don’t forget this. Don’t forget that. Don’t forget this other. Don’t forget that other.” in an endless mental loop. The result is that our muscles tense up. At the end of the day, we can be physically exhausted even though we didn’t actually do anything physical.

My stupid simple stress reliever is in two parts.

Make A List. Make a list of all the things you have to do. That list is probably in two parts. One is a calendar, where you note down anything you have scheduled at a particular day and time. Doctor’s appointment, conference call, card game, the day the taxes are due, your vacation, the need to call the furnace guy in April and set up the annual cleaning and system check, and , once you do, that appointment as well. I even put in to get gas on the 28th of the month, and roll that over month to month, so I can use up my Kroger points at the pump before they expire at the end of the month.

All of it goes in a calendar. I like the free app WinReminders, which I run on my desktop computer, but you can use your smartphone calendar as well. Then you don’t have to remember all that stuff. Just check what’s up for the next day before you go to bed.

The second part of ‘make a list’ is the stuff on your plate right now. Take out the garbage. Clean the litter box. Write that paper for next week. Put out the bird feeders for the season. Pick up more bird food. Get Jimmy some new shoes. Get light bulbs, and change the burnt out light in the closet. Put all that stuff on a paper list you drag around with you, in your pocket or purse. Add things as they come up, cross items off as you finish them.

You should also make a list of things to take when you pack for a trip. Once you make that list the first time, save it in a file on your computer. Every time you take a trip, print it out. Cross out the things you don’t need for this trip, and add the things you do. Anything you add should also be saved to the file, so the next time you print it out, for your next trip, you won’t forget it.

Once everything is on a list, you can forget about it. you don’t need the “Don’t forget this. Don’t forget that. Don’t forget this other. Don’t forget that other.” endless mental loop running any more. Just shut it down. You will actually forget fewer things by making lists than you will trying to remember everything.

Set Your Alarm. Cell phones used to have a couple of alarms you could set. They were like the alarms on clocks, and went off every day. Smartphones, though, can have as many alarms as you want, and you can set them for a one-time alarm or for specific days of the week or to alarm every week at the same time on the same day of the week. They also allow you to put a name or note on every alarm, and even change what the alarm tone is.

This is very powerful. Do you have to take pills every day, or multiple times per day? Set an alarm to remind you. Name it “Meds” or something like that. Maybe even set a special alarm tone for that one. Then forget about it. Doctor’s appointment Tuesday at 2:00? Set an alarm for 1:00, to go off one time only, on Tuesday, and name it “Doc appt at 2:00.” Then forget about it. Have to have supper ready at 6:00, so you can go out to the movie tonight? Set an alarm for 5:00, and name it “make supper – movie tonight.” Then forget about it.

I have a dozen alarms set on my phone right now, some daily, some repeating on the same day every week, some one-time-only.

Between these two things — making a list and setting your alarm — you can clear all that crap out of your head and finally relax. You’re not going to forget anything. It’s on your list, and the alarm will go off to tell you when to do it.

And, when you finally mentally relax, your muscles will relax, and you won’t finish the day exhausted from spinning your wheels all day.

Weird Thoughts About Employment

I’m not quite sure how to approach this one, so I’m just going to jump right in. I’m not writing about employment from the point of view of the employee, but from the point of view of the employer. This has the chance of going off the rails, but here goes.

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion lately about the nature of employment. I have seen this several times myself in just the last couple years. So I would like to clear up the confusion a bit.

As an employer, I have a job that needs to get done, which I am either unable or unwilling to do myself. I may simply not have the time, or the inclination, or it may be something for which I do not have the skills or, any longer, the health. I am willing to pay good money for someone to do it.

This is where the employee comes in. They agree to do the job for some amount of money, the amount of which is agreed upon from the start. When all goes well, they get the money, I get the job done, and everyone is happy.

But there seems to be a growing confusion on the part of some employees about one little aspect of this arrangement. If I hire someone to do a job, I get to define what the job is and how it gets done. The employee does not get to say, simply, I’m going to do this other thing instead, or I’m going to do the job this other way, without my approval.

You see, what that means is that I am not getting the job done that I wanted. I am therefore no longer willing to pay the money. The breakdown in the arrangement that results, from the employee’s point of view, is usually called getting sacked.

From my point of view, it’s simpler. The employee decided they didn’t want to do the job I had. It’s not personal, or vindictive, or mean. It’s business. I’m willing to pay the money to get the job done. Paying the money and not having the job done is not acceptable.

The question is simple: Do you want to do the job or not?

If the answer is ‘No,’ then don’t be surprised when I tell you that your services are no longer required.


Weird Thoughts About Writing

You need a little background first, before I get to my point.

It turns out that I, not an attorney, have changed the law.

Trade secrets are an intellectual property, like copyrights, patents, and trademarks. For copyrights, patents, and trademarks, you only need to prove Use and Damages in court. Not so with trade secrets. Proving up a trade secret misappropriation case in court involves a lot more, and has always been something of an art form.

Twelve years ago, I formalized the proofs needed to prove up a trade secret misappropriation case in court in a restatement of the case law. In addition to Use and Damages, you need to prove Existence, Ownership, Notice, and Access, which I called the EONA Proofs. This was published in the first edition of Trade Secret Asset Management, a book I co-authored, in 2006.

The EONA Proofs are now being taught in law seminars, which surprised the hell out of my co-author the first time he saw the EONA Proofs come up in a legal conference several years back.

OK, so that’s weird enough. But I may have done it again. I wrote a little piece called “The Five Elements of Automated Trade Secret Asset Management.” It was incorporated in the 2018 edition of Trade Secret Asset Management. Those five elements are Taxonomy, Scoring, Metadata, History, and Proof. And they’re starting to gain traction.

Which brings me to the point of today’s essay. Maybe a dozen years back, a friend and I were talking to a young woman who had gone back to school to get a degree in System Administration, the business of deploying and running large computer systems. She wanted to know if we, who had both been in the computer field for decades, had any advice on extra courses she might take to make her stand out, either in getting a job or being successful at doing it. Our answer surprised her.

We both gave the same answer: Business Writing.

In just about any field you go into, sooner or later your upward career path is into management, and perhaps, after that, consulting. In management and consulting, you need to be able to write. Whether a proposal, or a plan, or a report, whether an email, or a paper, or a book, you have to be able to write. No matter how good your subject matter expertise, you can only affect the things you yourself do, the people you yourself talk to. To make your expertise most useful to others, you have to be able to communicate it effectively. In writing.

And that’s how people I have never met, in places I have never been, are teaching the EONA Proofs.