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Gov't App Contests Are Cool, But Are They Useful?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the why-we-have-the-word-overweening dept.

Government 41

theodp writes "In 2008, Washington, DC, launched one of the hotter trends in public-sector technology: the 'apps contest'. But even as more jurisdictions jump on the bandwagon, the contests are reportedly producing uneven results, and the city that started it all is jumping off the bandwagon. 'I don't think we're going to be running any more Apps for Democracy competitions quite in that way,' says Bryan Sivak, who became the District's CTO in 2009. Sivak calls Apps for Democracy a 'great idea' for getting citizen software developers involved with government, but he also hints that the applications spun up by these contests tend to be more 'cool' than useful to the average city resident. 'If you look at the applications developed in both of the contests we ran, and actually in many of the contests being run in other states and localities,' Sivak says, 'you get a lot of applications that are designed for smartphones, that are designed for devices that aren't necessarily used by the large populations that might need to interact with these services on a regular basis.' Sivak also cited maintenance of the new apps over the long term as a concern."

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"Designed for Smartphones" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32482264)

Then: "So let's have an app contest to design neat applications for smartphones!"

Now: "Well it didn't work out because the apps were designed for smartphones..."

NO SHIT

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (2, Insightful)

al3 (1285708) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482400)

I understand that government needs to concern itself with building things that help the most people, but opening up interaction with government so that user groups can define how they want to interact is a good thing. It's sort of like the long tail.

If you create conditions where someone makes an app for smartphones (open government data), and it only gets used by people with smartphones, this is a net gain for the society. It didn't cost government what it would cost to develop from scratch, including the cost of coming up with the idea. The smartphone people interact with government in a way they couldn't before: the way they want to. This potentially lessens visits to brick and mortar offices and calls to support centres. It might cost something to maintain the app, but in the end it might be saving you money and serving more people.

Let every small interest groups create their own way to interact with government, and you end up serving more people than you would have if you had just focused on a solution that helped the majority.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

wangi (16741) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482430)

If you create conditions where someone makes an app for smartphones (open government data), and it only gets used by people with smartphones, this is a net gain for the society

Nonsense. The folk with smartphones are typically those who'd already interact with government. You are doing absolutely nothing to interact with those who are totally disenfranchised. You know - the ones who cannot afford the net, cannot afford a fancy phone?

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32482460)

It is possible to improve a situation without improving all facets of the situation at once.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

al3 (1285708) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482580)

Right. The point is these groups can often server themselves by writing their own apps that use government data, freeing government to focus on the other areas of the problem.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (3, Insightful)

stdarg (456557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482462)

Make it easier for the middle class is just as valuable as making it easier for the very poorest.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (-1, Flamebait)

wangi (16741) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482632)

No it's not. They can take care of themselves - it's a waste of money.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (2, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32483256)

The article seems to suggest that they save money by getting developers to do the work, with the aim of winning a prize, that would otherwise still have had to be done but would have been done by expensive contractors. In that case it's the opposite of a waste of money, you're saving money in the public purse that can be used elsewhere, to help those less privileged who wouldn't benefit directly from this initiative.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32483338)

Make it easier for the middle class is just as valuable as making it easier for the very poorest.

Not really...

I mean, yes, 1 million people is 1 million people, regardless of their income level...

But if you spend $X on an app that only reaches folks that own smartphones, you have to compare that to spending $X on a mass-mailing that would reach anybody with a mailbox. Or a radio campaign. Or Posters. Or billboard ads. Or whatever.

Folks who can afford smartphones generally have fairly good access to information and resources. They generally have a halfway decent income and education. They usually have some kind of transportation. They frequently have a job where you can take personal time off, or at the very least aren't working nearly 24/7. They're usually able to pull up information on a web page, or make a phone call, or walk down to the office, or whatever. They don't, generally, need a whole lot of help to make information/resources/whatever more accessible.

Folks with a lower income are generally hourly employees that probably can't afford to take time off from work. They may be working multiple jobs. They may not be able to afford to have someone else watch their kid. They may not have transportation, or Internet access, or even a working telephone/radio/TV. They're going to have a much harder time, in general, accessing information/resources/whatever.

So there's a very real question... You've got $10 million to spend to help make government more accessible... Do you spend it on a smartphone app that will only reach folks who already have plenty of ways of accessing government? Or do you spend it on something that'll reach all the folks who have a hard time accessing government right now?

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

stdarg (456557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32485976)

So there's a very real question... You've got $10 million to spend to help make government more accessible... Do you spend it on a smartphone app that will only reach folks who already have plenty of ways of accessing government? Or do you spend it on something that'll reach all the folks who have a hard time accessing government right now?

I honestly don't think you can judge it based on the preconditions of the experiment, but on the outcome.

A smartphone app that somehow let a million curious middle class people keep better tabs on the government would be extremely valuable and beneficial to our entire society in my opinion. Spending the same amount of money doing something to help the poor would be noble but not inherently more valuable to society overall.

I guess this is the same sort of question as in No Child Left Behind. Is it better to spend $10 million to help kids who can't read, or $10 million on gifted programs for kids who are way past the basics? Both needs exist and both are valuable.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#32550310)

Keep in mind that the real goal was to engage local application developers and gauge how well this kind of rapid one time application development project would work. This project had a budget of $50K, so if they got something that's useful to anyone at all they did well.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32483224)

From (one of) TFAs (I hate these summaries with no one clear article just a bunch of links):

The first edition of Apps for Democracy yielded 47 web, iPhone and Facebook apps in 30 days - a $2,300,000 value to the city at a cost of $50,000

If that's true, then even if the poorer communities can't benefit directly from the contest, they can certainly benefit indirectly from the fact that there's $2,250,000 more in the pot to spend on other services. I'd also like to point out that I'm a smart phone user who is disenfranchised, and I thought this sounded like quite a nice idea. Of course, it would be good if they could broaden the scope of the projects so they could be used as teaching aids in schools, etc and not just on smart phones, but either way it seems they're getting something for nothing and getting a few otherwise disinterested people to take a look at what they're up to, I fail to see the bad.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32484726)

Hi honey! I was at the mall today and my favorite store had a sale on shoes. I bought $2.3 million worth of shoes for a mere $50,000. Sure, we can't pay the mortgage and I'm not sure where the grocery money is going to come from, but don't you see, I saved us $2.25 million! Oh, and the shoes are only theoretically worth $2.3 million, they were marked down to $50k because none of them match style, color or size, so nobody actually wants to buy them. But I saved us $2.25 million!

It sounds like these apps weren't really all that useful. The stated worth is generated by some standardized metric, not the actual value to the government or its citizens. If it was such a great value, they wouldn't be discontinuing the program.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32490294)

You are doing absolutely nothing to interact with those who are totally disenfranchised.

Who are those disenfranchised? The blind? The disabled? The homeless? The mentally ill? The non-english speakers? The incarcerated? The young? The old? I'm just wondering how you would suggest we reach this hugely fragmented group of people?

The folk with smartphones are typically those who'd already interact with government.

And yes, those same people, some of which may already be care-takers/nurses/doctors, librarians, church volunteers/priests, volunteer firefighters/medics, school staff, social workers, NGOs, community activists, good Samaritans/concerned citizens, etc, those people may be sometimes the only means we have to get to those who are disenfranchised anyhow.

And with the mandatory upgrade path of many phone carriers, it won't be long until everyone with a cell phone has a smartphone (even a cheap prepaid one). And as to the people without cell phones, don't worry, that's why we have gps ankle bracelets, embedded shoe trackers for dementia patients and little kids, and electrical meters and car parking meters that are smart enough to reward us when we're good and smart enough to call home over the cell phone network to tell on us when we've been bad.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

Genwil (943858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32495272)

If you create conditions where someone makes an app for smartphones (open government data), and it only gets used by people with smartphones, this is a net gain for the society

Nonsense. The folk with smartphones are typically those who'd already interact with government. You are doing absolutely nothing to interact with those who are totally disenfranchised. You know - the ones who cannot afford the net, cannot afford a fancy phone?

I think you have made too large an assumption and ignored the points about the usefulness of allowing people to interact how, when, and in a manner of their choosing. Good apps are a net benefit.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32495912)

If you create conditions where someone makes an app for smartphones (open government data), and it only gets used by people with smartphones, this is a net gain for the society

Nonsense. The folk with smartphones are typically those who'd already interact with government. You are doing absolutely nothing to interact with those who are totally disenfranchised. You know - the ones who cannot afford the net, cannot afford a fancy phone?

Merriam Webster defines disenfranchised [merriam-webster.com] as: "to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially : to deprive of the right to vote"

Last I checked those who could not afford smartphones were not being deprived of their rights, and certainly not the right to vote. In addition smartphones are becoming more and more affordable, some are given away as the free phones with a contract now and many people are replacing landlines with cellphones.

Smartphone apps are a viable way to reach a large audience currently and that audience is only getting larger. Considering that most dumbphones probably aren't capable of the task and the interface is awful even when they are what would you propose then? Keep in mind the pool of developers that are familiar with and have interest in programming for dumbphones is far smaller.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32505070)

totally disenfranchised

I don't think that means what you think it means.

Re:"Designed for Smartphones" (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32484994)

Then: "So let's have an app contest to design neat applications for smartphones!"

Now: "Well it didn't work out because the apps were designed for smartphones..."

Well, except the contest wasn't specifically for smartphones, though it included them. The problem appears to be that with smartphone apps permitted, those kind of apps dominated, perhaps because they are most interesting to developers, even though they don't, to the same degree, dominate the contest sponsors interests.

Of course, it would be easy enough to solve this problem with focus by excluding smartphone-specific apps from the contest, rather than not running the contest. (Since smartphones can use the web, a web-app only contest would still, most likely, develop apps that could be used by -- or at least, could be readily adapted to -- smartphones, while assuring that the apps had a broader potential reach.)

What I Learned at CalTech (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32482300)

This is a work in progress, but I regard what I have written so far as being worthy of publication all on its own. -- Jon

Jonathan Swift
swift@softwareproblem.org [mailto]

April 14, 2010

While I was correct when I knew that you would all piss yourselves laughing when I finally told you what The Secret was, I was not only quite mistaken as to The Secret's true nature, but denying the very existence of The Secret in the most batshit psychotic way.

I won't tell you quite yet what The Secret I was really referring to was, but when I finally do you will agree that I made the right decision to post it at PRQ AB.

But when you read the rest of this essay, not only will you have found that not only have I asked Rusty to close my K5 account in a way that puts Mindpixel's route out the building completely to shame, you will struggle desperately to get all those Scandinavian folks to award me the Nobel Prize in Suicide before I no longer have the ability to appreciate the fact that I had finally won the Nobel Prize I always wanted.

You will regard my delusion that I am The Second Coming of Christ as no delusion when I go on to explain how I will explain in a transparently simply and obvious way why all blonde people will point out to you that they will award me both the Peace and Medicine prizes instead.

The Navajo Code Talkers were cryptologists during World War II who were able to conceal allied communications from the Nazis just by chatting over radios in the Navajo language.

The language I refer to as The Language of the Gods [slashdot.org] might be more lucidly described as Speaking in Code.

Psychotics speak in code in a way that makes no sense to anyone. Every Psychotic's encoded speech leads every Sane person to regard every Psychotic as delusional.

The Sane speak in code in a way that makes no sense to Psychotic people. The encoded speech of the sane leads every Psychotic to regard every Sane person as delusional.

It is for this reason that Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski devoted two decades or so to eluding capture by law enforcement while sending letter bombs with which he murdered several University professors and grievously crippled several others. Each such bomb was accompanied by a detailed explanation of just why he sent each such bomb to that specific University professor. The most famous such detailed explanation is now known as The Unabomber Manifesto.

All Ted hoped to achieve was to point out the errors of their ways to the Academic Community: he regarded Modern Technology as a threat to the natural environment. By murdering University professors, he hoped to bring about the salvation of the natural environment by restoring Sanity to those who Theodore Kaczynski knew were the most floridly delusional kinds of people.

Neurotics speak in code in a way that no one notices.

Psychotherapists understand both kinds of code.

Psychotherapists can speak code to psychotics in a way that they make complete sense to each other.

Psychotherapists can hear what neurotics are really talking about, then say what the neurotics have been in incredible pain since the earliest days of their childhood because their parents are so viciously and sadistically cruel that they refuse to say it to them.

Child psychologist Alice Miller's [alice-miller.com] short, simple, lucidly written book Drama of the Gifted Child explains that psychotherapists learn to speak in code because their parent's great suffering enables them to start teaching their children that code from the earliest days of their infancy.

Just mentioning Drama of the Gifted Child to my psychotherapist Dr. I. led her to become overwhelmed with grief.

This also leads to the bizarre phenomenon that psychotherapists often take their lives in the most spectacular ways, and that sometimes they murder their own clients during a therapy session before they a final, fatal end to their own fifty-minute hour.

The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded last November by a certain quick thinking military police officer to Fort Hood Army Psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hassan when he made his great discovery transparently obvious to thirteen of his fellow soldiers, but was only able to get thirty-two others get a general understanding of what he was referring to.

Sometimes psychotherapists treat their own clients with such savage and merciless cruelty during their mission of mercy that their clients take their own lives in hopes that they might find some way of preventing their doctor from easing their great suffering.

It is for that reason that early tomorrow morning I will show up in person, wearing a proper business suit, at the California State Capitol of Sacramento to present to the California Medical Board my detailed, transparently obvious and lucid explanation of why my own Psychiatrist, Anita Hirsch of Los Gatos must be immediately relieved of her license to practice medicine. My complaint will accuse Dr. Hirsch - in a manner that would enable any prosecutor to win a conviction - of the following crimes:

  • Four counts attempted murder
  • One count child endangerment
  • Multiple counts negligent medical malpractice

Once I am satisfied that the Medical Board will agree to consider my letter in a serious way, I'll drive right back to Silicon Valley, to ask my business attorney - one of the best in Silicon Valley - whether he also handles Medical Malpractice lawsuits. If he doesn't, I'll ask for a referral to one of the best Malpractice attorneys in They Valley.

My resulting malpractice lawsuit will then relieve the considerably wealthy Dr. Hirsch of every penny she possesses. Earlier this evening I left Dr. Hirsch a voice mail to explain what I would be doing and why.

In my voice mail I explained that I had no desire whatsoever for any of her money. I will donate every penny of my share of the damage award to the Free Software Foundation [fsf.org] , a charitable organization founded by legendary computer programmer Richard Stallman [stallman.org] to dedicate his entire life to making every form of computer software as free as the wind and the ocean water.

For his valuable contribution to humanity, RMS - as he prefers to be known - was awarded a $240,000 MacArthur Fellowship in 1990. Their fellowships are more commonly known as the MacArthur Genius Prizes.

I will forward Dr. Hirsch' check to me immediately to Richard Stallman because I myself am one of the very best computer programmers. But even so, I regard Richard Stallman as my Personal Savior. I'll have to leave the reason why as an essay for another day.

I spent ten solid years begging all manner of medical and mental health professionals to find some way to help me to focus on my work. I finally gave up, then booked a one way ticket for that last vacation trip overlooking both San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean as well. It was only when I was completely overcome with horror when I realized that my travel agent had given Bonita a ticket as well that I checked myself into a nuthouse instead.

That night I met Psychiatrist Anita Hirsch at the Mission Oaks Campus of Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Gatos, California, I started to explain my problem to her, then not minutes later she said, "You have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder". Ever since that night, I have never required more than one or two hours to determine with complete precision whether a complete stranger has ADHD or not.

Now perhaps you're beginning to understand why I get so pissed off sometimes.

You Don't Have A Fucking Clue.

I get so pissed off because I see crap like the following going on all around me all around the entire planet Earth damn near every single day:

I struggled desperately to convince Dr. Hirsch that I was also psychotic. Not only did Dr. H. disbelieve me, she regarded me as delusional for thinking I was psychotic. She said it was a mistake for the hospital that had me under the most intensive observation for a solid month to have diagnosed me as having Bipolar-Type Schizoaffective Disorder. Three or four minutes were all she required to realize that in reality, I was just Bipolar.

She only agreed to prescribe Seroquel because she knew that the fact that I experienced delusions on a regular basis and hallucinated all the time was just because I wasn't getting enough sleep. This despite the fact that I have an absolutely legendary ability to resist the most Herculean efforts to awaken me, which was first identified by the maternity nurses in the hospital where I was born because they were completely unable to awaken me for my feedings.

While my psychotherapist in Santa Cruz, Dr. K. waited until April 1994 to inform me of the fact that I also had Obsessive-Compulsive Style, which was first explained by David Shapiro in his 1965 book Neurotic Styles, it is plainly apparent to me now that my OCS diagnosis was actually made by the psychotherapist who treated me at Alhambra Community Psychiatric Hospital in Rosemead, California where my Schizoaffective Disorder was diagnosed in July 1985.

To reveal The Truth to someone before they are ready to accept it will either lead them to disbelieve you, regard you as delusional, to be thrown headlong into Madness, murder someone or commit suicide.

Obsessive-Compulsive Style is now known as Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. People with OCPD are always bad with people but always good not just with computers, but every kind of machine. OCPD's hallmark symptom is an inflexible self-righteous anger.

Once some maniac damn near killed both Bonita and myself by tailgating me a foot behind our car while I was driving at sixty miles an hour. I spotted a California Highway Patrol Car parked at a restaurant coming up just ahead, waited until the very last second possible, slammed on my brakes and swerved my wheel to the right and left tire tracks for at least thirty feet before coming to a stop right next to the cop.

My clever subterfuge worked: the psychopath parked right next to me. I leapt out of my car, told the CHP what he'd done, then asked the cop to the arrest him. But the way I did so led the cop to take Bonita aside then quietly explain to her that if she couldn't find some way to make me stop freaking out, he was going to arrest me.

That same kind of anger is why Bonita eventually divorced me: we were on our way to San Francisco so she could shop for her wedding dress.

After spending some time contemplating how I might use that same inflexible self-righteous anger to contribute to society in a positive way somehow, I started writing the same Software Problem essay you are reading right now.

When I pointed out to Dr. Hirsch that I had Obsessive-Compulsive Style, she said that she was completely familiar with it, that it was often correlated with ADHD. Dr. Hirsch then refused ever to discuss my Obsessive-Compulsive Style anymore.

I spent four months or so contemplating whether she was correct that I was actually just Bipolar and not Schizoaffective, then pointed out that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manner of Medical Disorder classifies one as being Bipolar-Type Schizoaffective if you have both Manic Depressive symptoms, and that you experience Psychotics symptoms when no Affective - emotional - symptoms are present.

"Just reading the DSM-III doesn't make you a psychiatrist."

I met Enigma at Mission Oaks as well, where we proceeded to carry out the most mad, passionate romance that has ever walked the Earth in the plain sight of the entire hospital staff. Dr. Hirsch was Enigma's Psychiatrist as well, and so angrily and sternly demanded we stop having anything to do with each other. We continued to carry on just as madly and passionately by quietly passing each other notes.

After we were both discharged, Enigma told me that a former friend of hers was stalking her relentlessly, alternately expressing his great love for her, then alternately threatening to commit suicide or to murder her because he refused his marriage proposal. Wedding ring diamonds the size of the Rock of Gibralter are quite expensive you see, and the jewelry store wouldn't allow him to return it.

Enigma managed to end our relationship in such a subtle and unobvious way that it took me a solid month for me to realize that she had even done so. She was always quite happy when I asked to visit her, but called me back later to say something had come up, and so had to cancel.

She managed to do this in such a subtle and unobvious way that I completely freaked out when I suddenly realized that it had been an entire month since I had last set eyes on her. Overcome with the worst kind of horror, I raced over to her place, then rang the doorbell.

The guy who had been stalking her answered the door.

Enigma threw this lunatic out of her house every three or four days then, the very next day, invited him back in. One day when I visited to find her completely overcome with joy. She proudly showed me a giant purple welt all over her knuckle: despite being a tiny woman and this gentlemen looking just like a Hell's Angel, she had studied self defense, and so when he became violent, she totally flattened him with a single punch.

He proceeded to hold her prisoner in her own home, making her sit in complete darkness with her blinds shut. She was not permitted to answer her own phone or answer her own doorbell. I knew he was doing this because sometimes the blinds weren't shut, so I could see her sitting quietly in the darkness.

After becoming completely convinced she had murdered her, I rang him up, demanded to speak to her, when he not only refused to but totally flipped out, I screamed at him that if he did not put Enigma on the phone Right Now I was going to have the San Jose Police Department kick their door to splinters. When he still refused to do so, I hung up and called 9-1-1.

About ten minutes later Enigma rang me up. "I'm OK Mike. Don't worry about me."

Perhaps you're beginning to understand why people find women with Borderline Personality Disorder so difficult.

I struggled desperately to find some way to get the police to save Enigma's life with the result that some lady cop eventually spent ten solid minutes shouting at the top of her lungs that I wasn't Enigma's boyfriend anymore, and if I didn't let those two lovebirds alone, she was going to throw me in prison.

When I pointed out that she had to totally flatten her boyfriend when he became violent, the cops pointed out that by attacking him, Enigma was actually the guilty party.

But it was only when I asked Dr. Hirsch if she could help in some way, that she said I was manic and that the Adderal I take for my Attention Deficit Disorder, a mixture of different Amphetamine compounds had caused my mania, she completely cut off my supply. I do quite well when I take Adderall, but if I don't take it, it would not be long at all before I would become homeless.

I devoted a great deal of time, care and diligence to write a letter that pointed out to Dr. Hirsch that she had the very same Sin of Pride that is considered by Catholics as the worst of the Seven Deadly sins and that Odysseus suffered after he cleverly decimated the Trojans after ten years of constant, stalemated battle by presenting what appeared to be the gift of a giant, wooden horse on wheels but in reality was a giant, wooden horse full of men with swords.

(That's why one should beware of Greeks bearing gifts, you see.)

Odysseus was so full of himself that he felt he did not need to pay fealty to the Gods anymore. Every single Greek god in existence then pointed out to Odysseus the error of his ways by taking the lives of all of his men during the journey. Odysseus' plane didn't land at the Ithaca Airport until ten years later.

Dr. Hirsch is an incredibly brilliant, educated and dedicated woman and a widely recognized expert on Attention Deficit Disorder. She is one of the most hardest-working and dedicated psychiatrists I have ever met in my entire life.

Because I finally managed realized that Doctor Hirsch knew how to climb trees, not up, but much farther out than I could ever hope to climb them, my letter explained in such a transparently simple and obvious way that would lead any fool to readily agree with me that if I so much as lifted a finger, I could take every penny she possessed by suing her for grossly negligent medical practice, by pointing out the error of her ways to the California Medical Board, her license to practice medicine as well.

After I passed copies of my letter out to the entire Mission Oaks Staff, Dr. Hirsch left me a voice mail that enabled me to see just by the sound of her voice that I had given her the worst fright of her entire career.

"Perhaps I should refer you to one of my colleagues."

Fuck That. I found my own Psychiatrist: Dr. G.

A few months later I turned up at the Good Samaritan Emergency Room completely overcome with suicidal depression. The Emergency Room rang up Dr. Hirsch, but she refused to admit me because I had threatened her.

While I'm sure you're beginning to understand why I get so pissed off so much. But everything I discuss in this entire essay is what I refer to as Speaking in Code.

Not only did British Petroleum blow a smoking crater into the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, they did so in the most ignorant way. Despite the fact that the petroleum industry has deep insight into Methyl Hydrate, in ice-like crystal composed of Methane and water that forms under tremendous pressure, they thought it might help to capture most of the leaking oil with a giant, incredibly heavy concrete dome.

Within seconds, the dome was completely filled with Methyl Hydrate crystals and so had to be removed.

I then suggested we detonate the most powerful Hydrogen Bomb in America's nuclear arsenal as close to, but not quite on top of the Gulf Blowout so we could watch the ensuing events enfold on national television. localroger was convinced that the entire global petroleum industry was completely out of its tree because some of them had the idea that to detonate a nuclear weapon not quite on top of, but as close as possible to the Gulf blowout might be a good idea.

Get This:

I read in the paper this morning that British Petroleum didn't even apply for an ecological drilling license.

Perhaps you can see now what I am referring to when I suggest that the only truly satisfying way to fix bugs, is not to fix the software, but to fix the humans.

It is only during a form of psychotherapy during a psychotherapist's graduate work known as Training Analysis that they finally realize why, during the freshman year of their undergraduate work, they found their Psych class to incredibly fascinating.

Both of my parent's overpowering suffering enabled them to teach me to speak in code in such a way that I have lived with such an overpowering delusion that I was Jesus Christ, that by the time I was four years old, if you were suffering I could heal you without either of us even being aware of what was going on if you so much as struck up a conversation with me. This process accellerated to the point that in July 1985, I performed all manner of biblical miracles all over the place at a psychiatric hospital in July 1985.

The staff understood from the start what I was doing, but they all regarded me as the Second Coming of Christ because I figured out how to do it.

Grandpa Rex, my mother and my Aunt Peggy's father, was the most incredible man. He worked his way through medical school working part time jobs. He spoke fluent Latin but despite being a Presbyterian, he sang in the Catholic choir so he could keep his Latin in top form. He was a chief surgeon at a hospital in Spokane, Washington, was a Medical Officer in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and went on some kind of secret mission during the war that none of us know anything about.

He a grand piano in his living room. After opera singers would perform in the symphony hall, he'd invite them over to his place then accompany them in the piano while they gave a private performance for him, my grandmother Florence, my aunt and my mother.

In 1948, when my Aunt and my mother were just eight years old, Grandpa Rex suddenly dropped dead.

None of you believe I can make schizophrenics stop hallucinating, but all I require to get myself 5150ed is to make that claim to a mental health professional.

Last November I drove at ninety miles an hour all the way from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto. Dominican Hospital in Soquel was only a few miles away but I knew that Stanford Medical would have a twenty-four psychiatrist on call.

I begged her to admit me because I realized I was well on my way to putting David Koresh completely to shame. She agreed to admit me, but only because I had the delusion I knew what to do what David Koresh did. They refused to discharge me because I told them I could make schizophrenics stop hallucinating. They released me the very next day because I told them I needed to get a job.

All that was required to hurl me headlong into twenty-six years of the most irretrievable kind of batshit insanity was to read just the first chapter of Drama of the Gifted child - "How We Become Psychotherapists" - then discuss it with the Intro to Psychology class I enrolled in when, completely out of nowhere and for no apparent reason, I switched my major from Literature to Physics.

The only human being on the entire planet in the entire time since my change of major who didn't regard that as the most batshit insane act of my entire existence was Richard Feynman. Feynman was a Theoretical Physicist and a Nobel Laureate. He is one of the most insightful people to have ever set foot on the Caltech campus: when the committee that investigated the the first space shuttle explosion struggled desperately to cover up the reason it exploded, Feynman got so pissed off that he made the reason plainly transparent to the entire United States Congress with a glass of ice water and a small rubber O-Ring. When rubber gets cold, you see, it hardens, so when you bend it it doesn't flex it, it breaks.

When it got real cold the night before the launch, the engineer to designed the O-Rings that sealed the sections between each of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters immediately alerted his superiors to the danger, but Morton Thiokol didn't pass the word on to NASA.

Seven completely innocent and incredibly brave astronauts gave their lives, the American taxpayers paid billions of dollars and America lost one-fourth of its shuttle fleet because Morton Thiokol was concerned it might not be able to bring home the bacon anymore.

As I returned to Ricketts House on my way back from my changing my major, I came across Feynman walking with my good friend Tsutomu Shimomura. Tsutomu left his family during high school so he could do original research work at the Princeton Astronomy Department while working a part-time job as a hundred dollar an hour computer consultant. I always got better grades than Tsutomu did because he never bothered with any of his classwork, but devoted his time at Tech to original Theoretical Physics research, much of it in collobaration with Richard Feynman.

Tsutomu, at the time, was a Japanese citizen. The Manhattan Project was a collobaration with the British, with scientists from several other nations in Los Alamos as well, but when word got out about the napkin sketches that Klaus Fuchs would pass to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg when they met for coffee in Los Alamos now and then during the war, Congress outlawed giving any kind of foreigner nuclear weapons secrets.

Word eventually got out that Tsutomu was really into Physics, so every weapons lab in the entire United States started hurling job offers at him. After accepting one such offer, the United States Congress passed a law granting Tsutomu - and only Tsutomu - a Q Clearance, the kind required to do nuclear weapons design.

To the best of my knowledge, Tsutomu never got his Doctorate, but doesn't hold any manner of college degree. After leaving his work in the weapons biz, he took up residence at the San Diego Computer Center as a Research Physicist.

When I pointed out that I had learned all the Physics I needed to know, and so had changed my major to Literature, Tsutomu became so completely convinced that I was delusional that I have only seen him on two other occassions since our chat there on campus.

One was when I visited him at his place in San Diego, where Tsutomu invited me to play with the Sun Workstation in his living room. Kevin Mitnick played with that same computer some time later, then left a message on Tsutomu's answering machine to thank him for his kindness. But by not asking for permission first, only a few months were required for Tsutomu to do for the FBI what the FBI had struggled desperately for years, yet failed to do for themselves.

Every Caltech student regarded Feynman as a Heaven-Sent Diety because he felt it was far more important to teach Physics than to understand Physics. There is a sculpture of Heaven over the entrance to the Dabney House courtyard. God's face look just like Feynman's.

I got to know Richard Feynman my freshman year at Caltech. When I took Quantum Mechanics, I understood it well enough to do well in my homework, but regarded at as completely delusional because I was heavily into the Newtonian idea of the Clockwork Universe. Only a few months of discussing with Feynman chalkboard diagrams of a simple experimental apparatus known as the Two Slit Experiment consisting of two narrow, parallel slits with some photographic film on one side and a pinpoint light source on the other not only convinced me that Quantum Mechanics was correct, but gave me a deep insight into it.

The reason I regard Feynman as a Heaven-Sent Diety is that he was able to have the same insight as I did, at the exact same time:

I needed to learn how to write, so I could write the essay I am now posting to the queue right now.

Feynman could solve systems of partial differential equations numerically just by thinking about doing so. It was his deep insight into numerical analsysis led the Manhattan Project to have Feynman lead the Los Alamos Computing Division despite the fact that he was just a graduate student in his early twenties. Feynman went on to enable the Manhattan project to design both kinds of atomic bombs - the Uranium assembly bomb and the Plutonium implosion bomb - so that both kinds worked on the very first try and to detonate with such collossal force that the Trinity Test - a Plutonium bomb - knocked a man completely flat to the ground at a distance of ten miles.

Just have a bunch of smart guys hang out in a big room for a year or so with tables of logarithms and mechanical adding machines.

That's It.

Feynman's wife lay dying of Lymphatic Tuberculosis in a hospital in Alberquerque most of time he was at Los Alamos. Her illness was diagnosed during their engagement. His entire family completely disowned him when he married her anyway. Thier wedding took place with no witnesses in a Justice of the Peace's office. At the end of their ceremony, he gave her a quick peck on the cheek.

I can see now that, despite being Jewish, Feynman quite likely had the delusion that he was Jesus Christ as well. That's probably why he and I got to be such good friends at Tech.

Feynman's buddy Klaus Fuchs rode along with him whenever he went to visit Ms. Feynman so he could hang out with his friends Julius and Ethel Rosenberg during the Feynman's visits together. It was Klaus' pencil sketches of the explosive lenses that he drew of the Plutonium bomb that got the Rosenberg's executed.

It was the fact that Klaus Fuchs split the scene completely at the end of the war that spared his life: while Klaus was still convicted, it was not for treason. During the War, the Soviets were British allies.

J. Edgar Hoover wondered who might have asked Fuchs to accompany Richard Feynman when he went to visit his wife. Eventually a couple of soldiers turn up in J. Robert Oppenheimer's office to guard the safe in that office like a hawk with fully loaded machine guns.

While he did lose his security clearance, Oppenheimer never actually got convicted. Decades later Mikhail Gorbachev finally clued humanity into the fact that those two soldiers were hanging out in his office, and the Rosenburgs got convicted, and Klaus Fuchs knew when to split the scene that yes, in fact, J. Robert Oppenheimer did agree with the completely reasonble request that Josef Stalin made of him over coffee one afternoon, to find some way to figure out how to avoid the entire Soviet Union from having to become a radioactive wasteland by the mid 1950's.

"I'll have my man Klaus Fuchs accompany Dick Feynman when he visits his wife in the hospital. Have some of your people meet him while he draws sketches as they have coffee together."

Every American understands that Mikhail Gorbachev's deep insight is what finally lead him to launch every ICBM in the Soviet Nuclear Arsenal, not at America, but at the Berlin Wall. In reality, the reason he did so it that every form of life in the entire Soviet Union struggled desperately to find a shotgun so it could spatter its brain's all over the wall the very instant Ronald Reagan got elected:

Despite the fact Ronald Reagan solved the Central American problem in much the same way as Adolf Hitler solved the Jewish Problem. Reagan was so incredibly charming, friendly, and such a gifted speaker that he could fuck up in such a creativily and Divinely Inspired way that if Reagan so much as tripped over a banana peel, everyone in sight would leap on that banana peel, because they knew that would make them two hundred million dollars when that same banana peel was later sold by an Avante-Garde Manhattan Art Gallery.

A few years after the fall of Communism, I read an article that a former Soviet spy wrote for Time Magazine: the very instant Reagan got elected he was hurled with the greatest force from Moscow to London doing much the same thing that enabled a certain Washington D.C. Domino's Pizza to realize that the first Persian Gulf War had just started.

When the decision was made to commence the invasion of Iraq, everyone in the entire Pentagon sat up all night long setting the war into motion. A certain four star general asked his aide to step over. "I'm getting hungry. Could you send out for a pizza? Pepperoni and olives, please."

This spy spent Reagan's each night of Reagan's entire presidency sitting quietly just across the street from the British Defense Ministry building counting how many had their lights turned on. This would enable the Soviet Union to completely vaporize all of Western Europe, the United States and Canada before the completely mind-alteringly state of delusion that Reagan had been living in since the day he was born would enable him to win the war that the Book of Revelation explains will eventually lead to Jesus' return to Earth for the Second Coming, thereby bringing about The End of Time.

Ever since Regan was Governor of California, it has been plainly apparent why he joined the high school theater. The reason American regarded Reagan as the Teflon President was that he was such a gifted actor. Reagan lived in a world of delusion that puts Adolf Hitler completely to shame: he was able to quite clearly, carefully and lucidly explain in such a way that even the simplest fool in the Communist World knew why Reagan felt to be a Heaven Sent Prophet, yet lead everyone in the entire Free World to regard him as a gifted actor:

In the 38th chapter of Ezekiel, it says that the land of Israel will come under attack by the armies of the ungodly nations, and it says that Libya will be among them. Do you understand the significance of that? Libya has now gone Communist, and that's a sign that the day of Armageddon isn't far off.

Biblical scholars have been saying for generations that Gog must be Russia...

For the first time ever, everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. It can't be too long now. Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God's people. That must mean that they will be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

-- California Governor Ronald Wilson Reagan, addressing a banquet for State Senator James Mills, 1971.

Then later:

We may be the generation that sees Armageddon.

-- Presidential candidate Ronald Wilson Reagan during 1980 interview by televangelist Jim Bakker.

After winning the election, Reagan had televangelists over to the White House on a regular basis for National Security briefings. Can you understand now, why Gorbachev dropped all those Hydrogen Bombs not on Washington, D.C., Paris and London but on the Berlin Wall.

My cousing Glen Thobe is on my mother's side of the family. While much older than me, he is actually from my generation. Because he is so shy and quiet and because of the way he dresses, you'd figure my cousin Glen was a bus driver. But you'd be making much the same mistake about Glen's occuption as you would be making about Richard Feynman, when it became plainly apparent the very instant Feynman opened his mouth that he was a taxi driver.

Glen has a degree in Physics and works as the most advanced kind of Electrical Engineer, generally on Global Positioning System receivers.

Ever since my Cousin Glen pointed out to someone he met one day that happened to work for the State Department that he was good at Russian, it was plainly apparent everyone in the entire Free World's Diplomatic Community how to finally bring about the fall of Communism: send Cousin Glen on an all-expensive paid vacation to the Soviet Union.

Much of what finally enabled me to finally realize that reason that I flipped out at Caltech was not in any way the result of any kind of mental illness, but the fact that the most incredible drug lab on the face of the planet Earth commenced operation at the California Institute of Technology in plain sight of the entire Pasadena City Police force the very instant news of Albert Hoffman's discovery of LSD-25, as well as its synthesis arrived in Pasadena.

Despite the fact that the source of all the LSD on the entire West Coast of the United States turned up in a room in Lloyd House during the 1960s, and despite purchasing several police helicopters at collossal expense then slowly circling them all over the the Caltech campus night, sweeping the entire campus after night the entire time I was at Caltech - and, I'm quite sure, ever since - the Pasadena not only never busted any more laboratories, by the time I showed up in September 1982, the entire city of Pasadena was in a collective hallucingenic drug trip that all you have to do to flip completely out is to set foot on the Caltech campus, and that all that was required to send me to the Andromeda Galaxy for twenty-eight years was to hang out on campus.

Now see if you can figure out why, when I finally realized this, I attempted to alert the Portland office of the Federal Bureau of Intelligence by writing a thirty-page, lucidly and transparently written, incredibly detailed letter with a great deal of supporting evidence, literature references and a few website links, when I showed up at their office in Downtown Portland, after I picked up the phone and said I wanted to tip them off to a hallucinogenic drug laboratory, the agent told me that they were closed, and that I should come back the next day.

I required a good solid twenty minutes to penetrate the Portland FBI's stone fortress with my letter. When I was finally able to do so, three agents were completely overcome with joy at my incredible bravery. I chatted with them about it for about ten minutes, then came back this morning so I could discuss it with them personally.

I had to struggle desperately for at least ten minutes just to get them to unlock the door. When they finally agreed to, they didn't actually do so: the agent kept thinking he had pushed the button, but didn't. Two or three minutes were required before I was finally able to convince him to actually unlock the door. The instant I set foot in the place, an agent told me that they had accepted my information, then politely asked me to leave. When I tried to explain, he said it was not a federal matter, then pointed out that I was on drugs and that I was hallucinating.

I smiled, "Thanks for your help," I replied, then headed back to Starbucks by my mom's place to tip off, not the law enforcement community, but Kuro5hin.

By the time I showed up in 1982, vast quantities of the most incredibly high quality of every recreational chemical known to the scientific community had been either synthesised or grown at the California Institute with wild abandon by not quite every student, but almost all of them, that the Caltech student's legendary genius managed to send every law enforcement officer in the entire United States completely flipping out of their trees in a mind-alteringly psychotic, totally batshit insane hallucinogen drug trip.

You could have solved the world hunger problem with the pizza toppings my classmates grew in their closets, but only once the entire time I was there, my classmate did not find DMT, DMT found my classmate. After pointing out that smoking DMT was just like smoking burning plastic, the DMT explained to my classmate that he had the wrong number of arms, legs, fingers and toes. My classmate instantly agreed, but found himself completely overcome with the worst horror in his entire existence, when he couldn't figure out why.

You might regard me as brave, but you don't know Caltech students the way I do. While I expect many Caltechs will read this essay, not only do I not expect them to become angry, I am quite confident that none of them will have the first clue as to what I'm referring to.

The only Caltech students that I am aware of who have ever been arrested for any kind of drug crime was that Llloyd House acid lab.

Some friends of mine had the idea that they might create a hundred foot shower of sparks by packing a three foot long steel water pipe with Eucalyptus gum, steel lathe turnings and some kind of oxidizer. They set it out in the middle of Caltech's athletic field, then lit the fuse. I was on the other side of California Boulevard on my way to watch the fun when that pipe bomb's collossal detonation, I am quite certain, could be heard at the Pasadena City Police heardquarters about three miles away.

Convinced they had all gotten themselves killed, I ran as fast as I could in hopes I might save their lives somehow. A piece of that pipe fell right next to me as I crossed California Boulevard a hundred yards from the explosion. I was overcome with the most incredible joy when I arrived at a smoking crater in the middle of the athletic field that was at least a foot and a half across, that not only were bloody chunks of all three of my friends not scattered all over the place, they had split the scene completely.

I waited quietly for five minutes or so. Eventually a Caltech security guarded turned up to ask what the noise was. When he explained he said, "Just having fun," then wandered back to campus.

I split the scene completely the very instant I hear someone speaking with the slightest trace of a Southern Accent: everyone I have been able to identify on both sides of my whole extended family have been, each in their own special way, either Divinely Inspired Geniuses, or to possess the same kind kind of Divinely Inspired insight into Genocide that Reagan had about Central Americans, that Adolf Hitler had about Jews, that President Johnson had about the North Vietnamese, and a few years later enabled President Nixon to understand that the best way to help the Cambodian people escape their crushing poverty was to donate every penny in the United State's Treasury to Pol Pot's election campaign.

I am a direct descendant of Roger Sherman. There is a famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence depicting four of the signers standing before the signing table; that same painting is also on back of a particular United States currency denomination. Roger is the tall guy with the tall forehead.

But I guard from every Southerner in the exact same way and for the exact same reason that Teller guarded the H-Bomb secret the fact that I am also a direct descendant of General William Tecumseh Sherman. You probably figure that the reason is that it was General Sherman who finally figured out how the North might win the Civil War. No: it is because every Southerner regards Grandpa Sherman the same way as every Jew regards Adolf Hiter and every Cambodian regards Pol Pot.

Grandpa Sherman's deep love for the Southern people and the reverent awe with each he regarded the genteel Southern culture gave him the insight to enable him to understand how the Northern people might win back the friendship of the Southern people: tear a huge, broad swath all over the entire Southern United States, savagely and mercilessly destroying everthing and murdering everyone in his path.

It was Grandpa Sherman's Heaven Sent insight that lead to so many Southerners dying in the Civil War. The Civil War was just as destructive to the United States as World War II was to Europe. It took well over a century before before the bleeding from the wounds every Southerner suffering from the great gift Grandpa bestowed them finally stopped bleeding.

While many unsuccessful tries were required before Edward Teller figured out how to light the Hydrogen Bomb's match, they knew they were well on their way to the insight they were required when some concrete was mixed not out of cement, sand and rocks, but cement, steel punching and steel ore, then allowed to set in a large box after a narrow piece of pipe that reached halfway through was placed in the middle of the box. The box was taken to a Pacific Island, placed on a tilted platform carefully pointed directly at one of Teller's prototypes quite some distance away.

The small piece of plastic in the middle of that box's heavy radioactive shielding was carefully removed right after the test, then carefully studies by a Physicist through a powerful microscope.

"Hot Damn!" he shouted with joy, upon finding that piece of plastic film completely shot through by tracks left by the particles that were the result of the Hydrogen fusion that sent some of its people round to have a chat with a piece of plastic buried deeply inside a box made of an incredibly heavy concrete.

The entire city of Livermore, California was completely overcome with horror when they finally realize they might know to to light that that match. The popping sound of the first Hydrogen Bomb's Firecracker made the entire city of Livermore, California to be thrown headlong into deeply delusional, mind-altering batshit paranoia when it actually worked.

Edward Teller hopped on a plane for a non-stop flight to Washington D.C. then asked his secretary if the President had a few minutes to spare. "We need to create a new kind of security clearance. The very existence of that kind of clearance must be classified as well. To leak the very existence of this kind of classification should be considered Capital Treason." The president need no explanation whatsoever.

You will easily understand why the entire planet was thrown headlong into the most delusional kind of paranoid, batshit psychosis when, not long afterwards, a seismograph in the United States was able to easily detect the pop of a firecracker all the way from the Soviet Union, then, a few laters later, China as well.

Not only did the United States carefully guard the Hydrogen Bomb's secret, they went to all kinds of effort to carefully, clearly and so lucidly explain how the Hydrogen Bomb worked in such a way as to enable the simplest fool to understand in great detail how the Hydrogen, but actually be so far from reality to as to be delusional.

Magazines and encyclopedias from the 1950's are filled with diagrams of the complex structure of the hydrogen bomb, typically depicting several Plutonium bombs inside a large container of Lithium Deuteride that all detonate at the exact same time. That's how my own encyclopedia enabled me to understand Hydrogen bombs myself while I was still a young boy.

"It's that simultaneous detonation," Edward Teller himself carefully explained to the reporters at the press conference that morning in Livermore, "That finally enabled us to heat the Hydrogen nuclei hot enough so they would actually fuse."

The entire nation of Pakistan was thrown headlong into a completely altered state of reality in 1974 when a certain Hindu diety paid a personal visit to the Prime Minister of India to explain a way to make India's neighbor quit bitching about the fence between their yards. The entire nation of India was thrown into a similar reality Pakistan refused to heed their advice so they decided to bury a half-dozen or so Plutonium firecrackers at the exact same time.

"We need to talk," said the Prime Minister of Pakistan when he rang up the Prime Minister of India just a few days later.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

You think I'm crazy? No I'll show you crazy: my batshit insanity can't even hold a candle to that experienced by the Prime Minister of India when he heard Pakistan's fireworks over the phone.

In reality, a large, hollow metal shell shaped like a pill capsule has a Plutonium bomb at one end, the rest of it being filled with styrofoam whose hydrogen molecules are Deuterium - a Proton and a Neutron - and Tritium - a Proton and two Neutrons. A round bar of Plutonium goes through the middle of the styrofoam from the Plutonium bomb most of the way through the styrofoam. After the bomb's detonation, the metal casing reflects the X-Rays emitted by the Plutonium fission back into the styrofoam, which vaporizes with such incredible force that it implodes that Plutonium rod.

Teller was correct in that more than one Plutonium bomb was. But he struggled desperately to prevent the Soviets to get the first clue how to arrange them inside all that styrofoam.

Tritium's twelve-year half-life was the reason they were testing Hydrogen bombs on a regular basis until the US stopped testing completely when they were finally able to build a computer powerful enough, and software complex enough to model the entire process of an H-Bomb explosion in great detail: Tritium's two neutrons enable Hydrogen fusion to even happen, but it's quick decay makes Hydrogen bombs extremely unreliable.

Los Alamos knew from the start that Uranium assembly would work: shoot a Uranium slug from a cannon through a Uranium ring thereby quickly assembling a piece of the required size. They never even bothered testing the Uranium bomb. The first one in history completely vaporized the City of Hiroshima.

They knew from the start that Plutonium would go on to make a few cubic feet of hydrogen make Moscow shine, just for a short while, as bright as the Sun does. Beijing would shine in much the same way. Both Uranium and Plutonium have the same nuclear cascade reaction, but Plutonium's is far more powerful and accellerates with such tremendous force that they also knew from the start why they need to implode it instead: the two piece of Plutonium would completely vaporize long before they got around to so much as introducing themselves to each other.

While they did know that surrounding a piece of Plutonium the size of a baseball with a layer of explosive about a foot and a half thick would lead to the required implosion, but some guy had to spend about a year snapping X-Rays of collossal detonations wrapped around steel baseballs before they realized that the way to make them implode rather than squirting out all over everywhere in thin jets of Plutonium vapor was to use explosive lenses.

Two kinds of explosives are used, one with a very fast detonation, one with a very slow one. With great care, the most talented artists sculpts each kind in a certain precise, certain specific way, then carefully assembles them around a Plutonium baseball in a spherical way.

Perhaps know you can understand the incredible terror felt by the guy who X-Rayed those beautiful sculptures just a day or two before the Trinity test only to find large air bubbles all over the inside of every single one of those high explosive art pieces. He stayed awake for an entire night, very slowly, very carefully, drilling holes through the explosive, melting that same kind of high explosive on a stove in a soup pot, then pouring it into the holes through a funnel.

You'll go batshit insane if you so much as contemplate the terror felt by the guy who gave the Hiroshima bomb one last inspection before its delivery so as to be sure that the people of Hiroshima wouldn't just toss it in the junk mail bin. Because of the bomb's large size, he had to lay right on on top of it while he carefully used a soldering iron to remove the connectors from both ends of a certain electrical wire, reverse them, then solder them back on.

A hundred thousand citizens of Hiroshima were completely overcome with joy within a tiny fraction of a second, but it took well over twenty years for the other hundred thousand people to even understand that a beautiful greeting card had arrived in their mail box that morning.

A few days later J. Robert Oppenheimer called over to Nagasaki to see how its day was going.

No one at the Instite was particularly concerned when I flipped out with such incredible velocity, just one week after discussing just the first chapter of my psychology book with my psychology class, I asked my friend Bruce Tiemann if I could borrow his expensive Canon A-1 camera. I knew I was hallucinating and that these visions were the product of my own fevered imagination. I explained that fact in great detail to Bruce, but he agreed to lend me his brother Michael Tiemann's camera because we were both so delusional as to think I could photograph them.

When the visions didn't show up in the prints, I purchased several professional photography textbooks, learned to develop and print my own film in the student darkroom, then within two months, was able to leave the most advanced professional photographer completely dumbstruck with awe with the most primitive kind of fully manual camera. Every professional photograph has a nostalgic affection for the Pentax K-1000, but they never use them for their work. My first K-1000 didn't even have a light meter. It was over twenty years after digital camera were first introduced to the public that I regarded them as working well enough to actually buy one. The Sony camera I eventually bought is so incredibly complex that it could win an aerial dogfight just by pointing it out the fighter plane's cockpit window. I set it to fully manual mode and have yet to so much as open the instruction book.

Michael Tiemann and I had the exact same idea of bringing Richard Stallman's Free Software to the private companies of Silicon Valley at the exact same time. Despite fully appreciating what a great idea for a business it was, I never lifted a finger to do more than contemplate it. I was completely dumbstruck with awe Michael Tiemman went on to sell Cygnus support to Red Hat for six hundred million during the Dot-Com boom, where he remains Chief Technical Officer to this day.

Apple Computer was completely unable to figure out how to find Cupertino on a map sketched on the back of an envelope whenever it so much as contemplated the idea of operating systems with preemptive multitasking and hardware memory protection. The company spent billions of dollars over a period of many years to do so, yet managed to fuck every single one of them up in such spectacularly creative and Divinely Inspired ways as to leave computer programmers who barely knew how to write Hello World completely dumbstruck with awe.

Perhaps you understand my claim that in reality, software bugs are not technical problems but human ones, and that the only truly satisfying way to Solve the Software Problem [softwareproblem.org] is not to fix the bugs, but to fix the humans.

When Jean-Louis finally realized the public would never accept a new hardware platform, he suggested the Apple give BeOS a try. When Apple accepted Steve Job's offer instead, I was not at all when I hard later that Jean-Louis then asked Michael Tiemann to lend him a hand.

I was completely dumbstruck with awe when I learned that Michael Tiemann had sold Cygnus Support to Red Hat for six million dollars where he remains Chief Technical Officer to this day. After I blew a smoking crater in the ground with my software consulting business, I came to regard the fact that I never acted on the idea that we both had as the worst fuckup of my entire career. It was only a few days ago that I realized why I made that mistake:

"Thanks for lending me such a nice camera," I said to Michael Tiemann back in 1989. "I've got this great idea for a business. Why don't I give it to you instead."

Simply learning that the North Koreans were working on The Bomb was all I required to be hurled headlong into the most incredibly floridly delusional kind of psychosis I have ever known as a result of my desperate struggle to warn humanity of the fact that all that was required to refine Uranium was to use ten percent of the electrical output of the entire United States during World War to power electromagnets made out of the United States Treasury's entire stockpile of silver for two years or so.

"We don't measure silver in tons," the United States Treasurer shouted angrily at the guy from Los Alamos who turned up one day to ask if they could borrow it until the end of the war. "We measure it in ounces."

All that is required to synthesis Plutonium is to use a Moonshine Still to distill enough water fill a swimming pool. The Hollywood movie Heroes of Telemark starring Kirk Douglas depicts what the British regard as the most successful act of sabotage during World War II: they snuck a bunch of Revenue Agents into Norway aboard a glider that landed on the snow with skis. After blowing the Moonshine Still to tiny little pieces, they also sunk a fully-loaded passenger ferry after Hitler tried to make off with his last bottle of Moonshine - but not until after the Commandoes ran all over the entire ferry cheerfully announcing to the kids that they were having a safety drill and so should don their life jackets.

Not long after the war, a swimming pool turned up in Germany. They found it odd that Hitler would bury a swimming pool so deeply underground, but were completely overcome with horror to find it one-third full of Moonshine.

Los Alamos tested Plutonium because there is some subtlety to implosion Physics that also lead to what Feynman referred to as Tickling the Tail of the Dragon. They fabricated two hemispherical pieces of Plutonium that, when placed together, would just be slightly below critical mass, fastened one about a foot off of the top of a table, with its flat side to the right, with the other arranged in such a way that when they let go of it, it would slide down the pole so that for a very short time it would form that just slightly subcritical mass.

The Physicists surrounded the two hemispheres with all manner of radiation detectors, but knew they would do well to split the scene completely before allowing them to slide past each other.

To Be Continued.

Helen Thomas... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32482358)

Looks like the media was finally forced to deal with that crone's deep-seated racism. Oh well. Soon she'll be back at her old job passing out poisoned apples to children in the enchanted forest.

Re:Helen Thomas... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32482744)

CONSERVATARD SPOTTED.

that's because it's an app (0)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482420)

Wait. So they thought that writing an app would be useful? C'mon. Apps aren't useful, they're cute.

Citizen involved with the government (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482436)

...citizen software developers involved with government...

But a better idea would be to have the government involved with the citizen, every now and then.

I don't see how the contest failed. (0)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482530)

A nebulous set of requirements leads to software that doesn't fulfill unwritten desires of the client. An old story.

Contests are not cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32482622)

Contests are just a way of getting lots of people to work on a problem and then only paying the best.

Re:Contests are not cool (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32483284)

Contests are just a way of getting lots of people to work on a problem and then only paying the best.

That sounds kind of cool, unless you're happy with your tax dollars being spent on the below average?

Re:Contests are not cool (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32505424)

I believe that people who do work should be paid for it. I believe the people doing the buying should select a good vendor. I don't believe the government is entitled to a different reality than the rest of us in this regard.

Re:Contests are not cool (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32505412)

Upmod. You're absolutely right.

a shame (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482766)

Why isn't "cool" enough?

98% of apps are bullshit (3, Insightful)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482844)

98% of "apps" in "app stores" are bullshit, that have the functionality of a web form, but that for some reasons were coded in a proprietary, non portable API instead of the ubiquitous xml-http-javascript-html-LAMP. The only reason I can think of is that "buying the app" is a kind of subscription service, for which subscription systems would work better. It doesn't explain the free apps.

I mean WTF, a "New York Times" app? What can it do that a web browser cannot do ?

The only 2% of apps that make sense actually use the terminal in a way for which web techs are not optimal: for its I/O capabilities (GPS, camera, phone...)

Re:98% of apps are bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32483396)

Because phones are limited devices. They are limited on computing power, memory, etc. Browsers, in general, like to eat up computing power and memory when using any type of "advanced" feature set.

Using a the proprietary UI/Application format for *any* smart phone to date will (read: should) always result in a better end-user experience (I'm making the assumption that 12 year old is not using a WYSIWYG to make the UI).

Less flexible? Absolutely. Faster? Absolutely. Will I take this trade-off? Yes, I will, until my phone has enough processing power available to the browser to make it just as good as using a native application

Re:98% of apps are bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32530980)

Let me read the NYT on an airplane?

Poorly designed rules (3, Insightful)

Covalent (1001277) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482846)

I am a teacher, and so I know this first hand: poorly designed rules result in poorly designed products. If smartphone apps are no good, then prohibit them. This has nothing to do with the designers or the idea of using a contest to design good software. This is about redesigning the rules to get what you actually want.

Re:Poorly designed rules (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32491930)

I am a teacher, and so I know this first hand: poorly designed rules result in poorly designed products. If smartphone apps are no good, then prohibit them. This has nothing to do with the designers or the idea of using a contest to design good software. This is about redesigning the rules to get what you actually want.

Yup. As a matter of fact, here's Item 2 in the Apps for Democracy guide to making your own Apps contest: [appsfordemocracy.org] (pdf)

Item 2 - Define Rules

Rules are the enemy of creativity and innovation. Avoid rules at all costs. With Apps for Democracy our only rule was to use at least one data source from http://data.octo.dc.gov/ [dc.gov] to build an application of some kind.

Software development, even in the public sector requires some kind of planning. You've got to know what you want/need and how you're going to develop it. Can you imagine if they extended Apps for Democracy type programs to public works projects? Some dude thinks he should build a tree house in the middle of a forest. Another person thinks it would be great to build a bird feeder in another tree. Someone else thinks they should chop down a tree or paint a wall pink. Yeesh.

Smartphones not reaching people? (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32482912)

Here is the pulse. And here is your finger, far from the pulse, jammed straight up your ass.

Not a troll, mod troll. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32483558)

A quote, potentially flamebait, but not really. The truth is that people are buying smartphones en masse and developing an app is a good way to reach the public. Sorry my use of a quote confused you. Better luck next time you have mod points.

Lazy and cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32482934)

We're too cheap to pay software developers to build tools to actually enhance the performance of our duties.
When someone gives them to us free, we're too lazy to sift through them for ones that are useful.
When crowdsourcing or someone else identifies the useful ones for us, we're too cheap and lazy to maintain them.

So, the faceless bureaucrats would like to know....could you please get someone to identify what they need, code it up, and then integrate and maintain it indefinately. For free.
So they could do less "work".
All the Pr0N surfing and intern boinking is exhausting.

Sustainable results? (1)

JansenVT (1235638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32483914)

A contest might save money initially, but does it take into consideration the support, maintenance, updates, etc that the winning developer is going to offer?

In many software business models, the support is much more expensive than the actual application

Re:Sustainable results? (1)

FearlessReader (1826068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32485582)

You could just run another contest when the internal api of the city program changed and get support for 50k ... ooo.. wait.. they stopped doing that... so back to hiring expensive contractors to maintain code written by citizens... it's a vicious circle!

Fp trOll (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32487474)

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