Jim McGaw's Blog


Hiya. I'm an open-source web engineer who likes to write.

Not Invented Here

I first became aware of the concept of "Not Invented Here" in the context of software development. While it applies to many different domains, it's particularly prevelent in software just because of the typical hubris of your average programmer: that it is more fun to write new code than to read and adapt someone else's code for some given purpose. We programmers love to create, but no one wants to maintain. This concept applies to...

Bias

A friend of mine sent me the most recent TED talk by Robert Sapolsky, a hybrid professor of primatology and neurobiology at Stanford, which is a synopsis of his most recent book distilled into the usual TED summary. In a nutshell, a couple of key points (and with apologies to Dr. Sapolsky): whether a violent act is deemed either good or bad depends on context and the person making the judgment, and the origins of...

In the Habit

I could write something on here every day. It wouldn't be difficult. There's too many topics in the world about which to compose a thought. Sure, it's all been said before, by someone else, but the point isn't to be novel. The point is to dig and unearth something new inside of yourself. Other people have done it. They spout the stuff. You do it too. It's not about originality. It's about convergence. You should...

Till Kingdom Come

I once had a friend post an intriguing passage on Facebook. I'm not able to dig it up, but he wrote about going back as an adult to look over his old children's books that he read when he was a very young kid. He was surprised by how much the moral messages of the books resonated with him. He ended with a question: just how much had reading these books as a kid influenced...

The Empty Beach

When I was very young, I wanted to drive a police car. It's the kind of obsession you have when you're a guy in junior high; at that age, you're not permitted to drive any kind of car, so the appeal of driving a special car that's allowed to go faster than other cars on the road is very strong indeed. Of course, when I got to be an adult, and friends I had growing...

Dominion

When I was in college, I had a friend from Lebanon who used to tell me, at length, about that old truism about how Jews control the media, the banks, etc. Of course he has this belief, and he's angry about it, for reasons that he derived from his father. I thought about this and my first reaction was, "Good for them!" I'm happy for other people and their accomplishments. I control my toilet, my...

No Regrets

It dawned on me over the course of this past week that I really don't have any regrets. I've examined a lot of the important decisions I've made in my life, and I know that in each circumstance, I've made the right choice. At least, I'm sure they're the choices I would make again if I had it all to do over again. Somehow, this is a terrible and bittersweet splinter in my side. It...

Between the Bored and Me

I'd say I've finally gotten to a place in my life, a place to which so many have arrived before me, when I'm not surprised by anything. I'm an optimist, but I find that I generally lack enthusiasm for things. I recently relocated to a new area of the country, and people, upon learning this, have suggestions for me. "Oh, you know what you have to try?" I try to be polite with them, but...

Between the Lines

I recently had a devoutly religious family member challenge me on my faith. By personal preference, I'm taciturn about my own faith. I don't feel the need to go around pushing what I feel might be true, or what's convenient for me to feel is true, on anyone else. I've spent years investigating my own feelings about these matters, and I don't see them as being necessarily applicable or even transferrable to any other person....

Balloonhead

This is one thing I too often get wrong. I'm generally an optimistic person. I'm not saying I think the world is a great place. It isn't. But I've come to believe, in all situations, by default, that I'll be able to deal with whatever difficulty gets tossed my way. I tend to keep my chin up and grin moronically at those around me, because the alternative is frowning moronically at those around me. And...