Think

Mostly on Rulebase Benchmarks, Politics, Religion and other "stuff" that you can't discuss in the workplace

Bare Knuckle Push-UP

Just had a chat with a friend of mine over in East (almost) Texas.  Fort Worth, actually.  He said that he went to lunch with a couple of friends from the Dallas Rules Group who wanted to start up a course based on the Progression Chart listed on the DRG home page somewhere.  It’s a “kind-of” Sigma-Six thing where you study your whatever off and you get awarded varying degrees of completion that is based on Karate / Tae Kwon Do / Kung Foo kind of progression.  Basically it is a five-year or more plan where the student moves from apprentice to journeyman to master, or in their case white belt (three grades) to yellow, green, blue, purple, three levels of brown belt and finally to black belt.

I’m not too sure that anyone would want to do bare knuckle-pushups to strengthen their hands and wrists and focus in order to better perfect their punch.  Especially when the workout is on a gravel road leading to the sand dunes and then to the sea.  It all seems so Okinawan to me.  (Karate started with Kung Foo teacher from China who taught on Okinawa and the art migrated to Korea, Japan and, eventually, to the USA and Europe.)  Anyway, the Okinawa “masters” would repeatedly punch a 1″x4″ board wrapped in hemp rope, do spear-hand-thrusts into buckets of sand, do knuckle pushups on gravel, wood or something else damaging to human flesh, all in order to enable them to punch through bamboo armor worn by the Japanese soldiers occupying their land.

So, what does all this have to do with his luncheon date?  My friend carried away two things from the meeting.  One of the persons there asked, “Is there any way to compress this time frame from five years down to something shorter?”  He should have just gotten up and walked away at that point but, being a Western Gentleman he gave the lady the benefit of the doubt and simply answered with a comparison of shortening a Ph.D. career – some can, most can’t.  Obviously, she would not have lasted two weeks but he was too PC to tell her that – maybe at some later date.

The other problem was that it had to fit into a corporate environment.  Oh, yeah.  Now there’s a great idea.  Move a Knowledge Engineering school that probably belongs in a Ph.D. program in some high-end university to a corporate environment.  Never happens – no “short term” benefits; only long-term benefits if the students can last that long.  Think about it – most high-tech employees don’t last five years on the job.  What’s to keep them there to complete a five year course of study that will separate them from their family and friends?  

Anyway, like most high-school rock-musicians, programmers eventually have to get a day-job to support their habits of family, friends, nice homes and fancy cars.  The Karate stuff, and the studying, go out the window as soon as they leave college.  No, Jimbo, you’re going to have to keep looking for those few, those silly enough to commit their very lives to the study of knowledge for the sake of just knowing what they are doing.  I hope you have a long and fruitful life but I don’t think it’s long enough to find those Fearless Five in this century.  🙂

 

SDG

Yaakov

Advertisements

July 21, 2008 Posted by | Rule Stuff | Leave a comment

Radicals and Messiahim – Zealots and Extremists

Extremism – it isn’t something that makes the ordinary person comfortable.  Today I was reading a post about the Torah on extremists in general and Pinchas in particular.  It caught my attention because in my college days (yes, I really did attend a decent university in my youth) I once had some friends named Pinkus, not the same spelling as above but close enough since it’s a Hebrew word that has been translated into English.  I didn’t know much about them nor their religion; they never offered and I never asked, even though I often had lunch or supper at their house.   Sometimes Jews think that everyone “just knows” that they are Jews because of their name.  Not really true in the USA amongst the younger folks since most young folks rarely think about things that are outside of their immediate realm of books, friends, cars, coffee and exploring the world.

Back to the subject:  Extremists make us uncomfortable because we really want to be extremists but we don’t want the pain that goes along with it.  Yeshua (called Jesus in English) was such an extremists.  Messiah is the Hebrew transliteration and Yasu (long a, long u) would have been the Greek pronunciation.   Isaiah was an extremists as was David and Daniel and many others of biblical fame.  Probably the most extreme person in the bible was Elijah, whose very name declares that “Adonai” (jah) is “G-d” (Eli).  He ordered more than 400 servants of the false god Baal killed on one day – probably within one hour after the one true G-d had lit the fires of the altar after the altar was doused with four dousings water until the water ran like a small creek around the altar.   See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elija for more on the subject or just read your bible, I Kings, Chapter 18 or so.

Extremism:  WHY do they make us feel uncomfortable?  If we know that this person is right, then why are we so, so, SO uncomfortable around them?  Sometimes just hearing about them makes us uncomfortable?  Because, deep down, we wish that we could be like that Radical person, that Zealot, that Extremist.  And we want, deep down, to be holy, even as G-d has commanded us to be holy just as He is Holy.  There is a longing in our soul that cries out to G-d to help us to be holy even as He is Holy.  It’s why we weep openly at the death of a hero or a fallen soldier who has given up everything including his life for his cause.  We want so much to be a hero but there is that awful chasm of fear, that wide gulf of pain to cross to get there.  And we know that the extremists is the person who has given up on this life and is truly, totally, absolutely looking forward to the next life with his G-d and his Savior.  This desire for holiness is the reason that those seeking G-d at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem sometime can do nothing more than stand there and weep openly and unashamedly.

On the other hand, if that radical person is wrong, why not just ignore that person?  Because we know that this person could be dangerous to us and our way of life.  That person is no longer afraid of judicial punishment here on Earth but is looking forward to the next life.  Even if that person is wrong, that person STILL believes in what is being done.  Just like the Muslim extremist today – or the Christian Radical Right Wing (such as the KKK that is not Christian but they think that they are Christian) – we know that they are wrong and they are a real and present danger to us and our way of life, whether we are Jew, Christian, Islam, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic, whatever…   

OK, then just who is this Pinchas person?  Pinchas (another spelling of Pinchus) is discussed in some detail, not a lot, at http://www.azamra.org/Parshah/PINCHAS.htm and is the middle of five Torah lessons in Numbers, those five being Chukat, Balak, Pinchas, Mattot and Massei.   Pinchas is sometimes called the “Prince of Peace” because in Numbers 25:11-12 G-d says, “Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aaron the Priest, turned away my wrath upon the Children of Israel in his zealousness.  Therefore say: I hereby give him My Covenant of Peace.”  So what did he do to earn this title?  If you read either the link or Numbers you’ll know – but I’ll save you the effort.  

The Torah forbids intermarriage between a Jew and anyone of the “nations” – goyim.  This is, in effect, to show the difference between the Holy and the profane, between those chosen of God and the rest of the world, a people who do not know one hand from the other.  (Kind of harsh sounding today, isn’t it?  What we would call “extremism” or “orthodoxy” in Judaism.)  So, when a Jew married a Midianite girl and took her into his tent in the very face of Moses and the rest of the congregation to consummate their marriage, all of Israel was stunned.  Even Moses just sat there.

But Pinchas, a mere lad, alone, but a majority of two (himself and G-d), picked up his spear, went into the tent and drove the spear through the two of them (both at once) while they were in the middle marital coitus.  He then dragged them out to show that the defilement of Israel and the blaspheming of the Law of the G-d of Israel would not be tolerated.  Even RAMBAM (Moses Maimonides) said in his code that this is still the law, though it has been watered down to being forty lashes.  And they can be killed only during the act of coitus itself, not something that can be talked about and then taken before the council.  (How wimpy all that sounds now compared to Pinchas.)  

Even the study of Pinchas is done alone of the five Torah studies in Numbers.  When Rebbe Kotzer was asked he replied, “Pinchas stands alone because Pinchas himself was an extremist.  Extremists always stand alone.”  So, if you are uncomfortable around extremists, that’s OK.  Maybe you won’t ever be extreme about anything.  If everyone one was extremists then there would not be a word for extremism, would there?  But you might give some though to doing your dead level best to always doing what G-d said to do and not tolerating those who would stray from His Holy Word and call it “pluralism” or “inclusion”.  More on the later…

SDG

Yaakov

July 18, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

George, George, George

George, George, George!! Why, oh why, did we ever vote for you in the first place? We thought that you would do so much good and on 9-11 we thought that you were a real President. But you have SO disappointed us. By “us” I mean all of the conservative (read, Orthodox) Jews, (read, Baptists and Charismatic) Christians and others of faith who thought that you had repented from your foolish boyhood transgressions and would lead a moral life.

True, you didn’t diddle with the interns in the Oval Office as did your predecessor. Worse. You diddled the American voter. Afghanistan I could see – almost. Iraq? Well I think you lied to us on that one. (Just one man’s opinion, not a fact.) But NOW you seem to have gone behind closed doors with a major real estate agent (a former logger) and negotiated to sell off 1.2 MILLION Acres of National Forest for home development. And (so said the article in today’s paper) it “could” lead to paving of the logging trails – not that it “would” but that it “could” – do you guys really believe that we (the voters) are THAT dumb?

If selling off National Forest land was a good thing, then it should have been open for bid to anyone who wanted to buy it. If it was not a good thing the no one should have been allowed to buy it. George, we hardly knew ya – but we got to know more about you that we wanted to know.

For more details on what Georgie Boy has been up to the past few years see
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/george_w_bush/index.html?query=LOGGING%20INDUSTRY&field=des&match=exact

SDG
Yaakov

July 5, 2008 Posted by | Political | , , , | Leave a comment

Drools, BRMS and Revolutions

Greetings, Programs:

If your are a member of the Dallas Rules Group (DRG) and you don’t subscribe already to the Drools RSS feed at http://feeds.athico.com/DroolsRSS, maybe you might should since most of “All Things DRG” are Drools-centric. Of particular interest is the “latest and greatest” early editions of version 5 from the Drools Team for two reasons:

(1) The Drools Team is beginning the late-September release of Drools 5 that will include a BRMS implementation. Admittedly, their initial implementation might be just a bit behind that of ILOG or Fair Isaac BUT, and this is the important part, it includes basic BRMS functionality AND (wait for it…. wait… here it comes…..) DROOLS IS FREE.

(2) The Drools team lives on the globe. Literally. Mark Proctor (their fearless leader) is in London. Edson Terelli is in Canada. Mic Neale is in Australia. And the others are scattered around the globe. BUT they work together to produce a product that is making giant leaps and bounds from that “freeware” tag into what used to be the exclusive domain of $20K or $50K starter BRMS tools.

Here’s another thing: More and more companies are using shareware or freeware products such as Linux, Open Office, Java, Eclipse, Net Beans, JBoss to run those $500K (final installed price) BRMS packages. Now they’re going to have another really good package to add in there; Drools. The line between commercial BRMS vendors and freeware vendors is becoming more and more blurred and, with the next year or two, should disappear altogether.

Remember when JBoss was free and big companies would not use it because it did not have “support” from a “real” vendor? So they paid through the nose for BEA (formerly Tuxedo) Web Logic (now owned by Oracle) or IBM Web Sphere. And all of the software ran on either Sun Solaris or IBM AIX. But then “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” – small companies, then bigger companies and bigger companies started using Linux, that Unix work-a-like for Linus Torvalds. Totally unexpected. Fast forward three years and now major companies are not only using Linux, they are beginning to use JBoss. But they continue to use ILOG, Fair Isaac, Pega, Corticon, Visual Rules, etc. BECAUSE the OPSJ, Drools, CLIPS and Jess folks just could not produce a “real” BRMS product.

So, fast forward three more years – companies at that time were beginning to use Jess and Drools in places where they never did before BECAUSE Jess and Drools were using the Eclipse interface and debugging tools and Ant and all of that other stuff that their geeky programmers loved so much and used anyway – until they got caught and reprimanded. (They used it even after that because they could not get that vaunted “tech support” from the commercial vendors.)

Today we, the BRMS and rulebase programmers, rule engineers and knowledge engineers, stand on the cusp of an historical incident much like the Rete Algorithm gave us almost 30 years ago in 1979: A FREE BRMS !!! It’s coming! The first editions are here! That “pre-alpha” part where there are more problems than features. But judging on the history of the Drools Team, those problems will go away. If you are a BRMS consultant, get ready and be prepared. Meaning you had better download Drools and begin getting used to their syntax rather than that of the big commercial vendors.

My prediction is that within the next three years those dinosaurs of the BRMS world will be rapidly slipping into the tar pits of obscurity and we will have copy-cat BRMS freebies. They won’t be as well done as Drools, but we will begin to see more and more BRMS products (note that I did NOT say more and more rulebased products) that are, for the most part, free. Maybe the Drools logo now should be a giant purple dinosaur surrounded by a large red circle with a bar through it. Meaning, STOP THE DINOSAURS. 🙂

SDG
Yaakov

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Rule Stuff | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments