Genii Weblog

Hypothetical carrots

Thu 16 Oct 2003, 08:23 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
Hypothetical carrots
My daughter is a senior in high school, but this isn't really about her.  She is a vegetarian, which for her means no meat more than it implies anything about vegetables.  When she makes her lunch, she always packs hypothetical carrots, meaning that she means to pack carrots, and says that she packs carrots, but the carrots aren't really there unless I pack them.  They are just hypothetical.

She believes somehow that hypothetical carrots will keep her healthy (along with the hypothetical hard boiled eggs she eats after school and the hypothetical orange juice that she drinks for snack).  I would think that this was a great failing of her age or generation or even her personally, except that it reminds me so much of the hypothetical standards and hypothetical efficiencies to be found in J2EE and Java and Websphere.

Hypothetical standards
From a hypothetical point of view, going with standards based systems such as J2EE will save you dollars, real dollars, not just hypothetical ones.  People believe that just "adopting J2EE as their corporate standard", or buying into the "Websphere portal concept" will save those real dollars, or somehow help them make more real dollars in the future, but it seems a lot like the hypothetical carrots to me.  J2EE or Java or Linux or OO programming or .Net are not how you save or make money, they are methods or frameworks which can be applied through a lot of hard work and design and training and planning, at the end of which there might be some real dollars, but if you think they are magic and will simply save or earn you those real dollars by adopting and proclaiming them, you are just packing hypothetical carrots.

Copyright 2003 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

57.1. Vince
(10/16/2003 01:27 PM)

I know your daughter will grow over it, not sure about those other people though ;)

57.2. Richard Schwartz
(10/17/2003 01:55 PM)

So, IBM is like my mom, sitting there and saying "Shut up and eat your websphere. There are children in India who would just love to have your websphere!"


57.3. Julian Robichaux
(10/19/2003 06:57 AM)

Sometimes it has to do with cooking skills, too. If the only meat you've ever had is burnt, dry hamburger then you're more likely to turn your back on meat and try to find something else.

Not that I'm saying you're a bad cook around the house, of course... ;-)

- Julian

57.4. Ben Langhinrichs
(10/19/2003 01:49 PM)

It's sometimes true what you say, but not in this case. We are all pretty close to vegetarian - no red meat, a tiny bit of fish or very rare poultry, and we cook a lot, and, I think, fairly well. Of course, I could just be defensive, since I am the one who cooks in our house. <grin>

Anyway, my daughter is just a picky eater, as I was at her age. So I understand, but I do wish she would actually pack the carrots once in a while. Whether I really wish people would really do their J2EE/.NET/etc., I'm not sure I should say.

57.5. Jens
(10/19/2003 05:23 PM)

Wow, I have to remember this story with the hypothetical carrots. You really have put it on one single point: people neglecting, that at the end you have to measure productivity, not standards.

57.6. Julian Robichaux
(10/20/2003 04:50 AM)

Ben -

Actually, I was saying that some companies might turn their back on Notes and (try to) switch to J2EE because their in-house Notes development staff is no good. In that sense, I thought that people might decide to become vegetarians (J2EE users) because the current cooking (Notes programming skills) is so bad.

I'm sure your cooking is fine. :-D

I also started to make an analogy about replacing your whole kitchen (switching to J2EE) just so you could make a waffle, instead of just buying a waffle maker, but that started getting silly. I like the carrot story.

- Julian

57.7. Stan Rogers
(10/20/2003 07:36 AM)

Julian, you should know as well as anybody out there that you can make waffles with Notes (at least you can with ND), and that Ben sells a pretty darned good waffle maker ;)

57.8. Ben Langhinrichs
(10/20/2003 09:22 AM)

Darn, I knew I was getting defensive. Sorry, Julian, I get your point now. Stan, I appreciate the endorsement of, uh, whatever it is you're endorsing. I really have to watch these food analogies, as I even I can't figure out what they mean after a while.

57.9. Julian Robichaux
(10/20/2003 06:56 PM)

Ben, that was totally my fault. Reading back over my first comment, I realize that I mutated your original analogy so that I was the only one who could make sense of my post. And I ended up insulting your cooking to boot! Sorry 'bout that. :-)

Oh well, that ought to teach me to stick to coding instead of creative writing.

And Stan, I agree that Notes can be a terrific waffle-maker, even if some of the waffle-making capabilities aren't necessarily built-in to the product. It's all about being creative with your cooking sometimes. But hey, that's why we enjoy being chefs, right?

- Julian

57.10. Mike
(11/02/2003 05:04 PM)

been a vegatarian all my adult life (26yrs), till my orginal high school wrestling weigth. Healthy and fit while so many my age look old. I can tell people I'm 31 and they believe me. Perceptive to subtle charactoristics of meat eaters ie. size and shape of noses, complexion, oily or tough skin, smell, ect. Vegatarianisms isn't somehthing one grows out of. Its not a phase its priveledge. Thank God we've so much abundance and there is little need to slaughter animals. Gross materialistic consciousness is difficult to recognize in one self and humility and spiritual advancement dosn't come easy but the rewards are immeasurable.