Bewailing Change

>> Monday, July 13, 2009

You know, a great many of the issues we deal with involve change. Any time someone wants to mess with the status quo, even when the current situation is clearly untenable, there’s always a faction (often terribly noisy) that screams and hollers about the end of days that will result if we change the way we always do business and accuses those advocating changes as being alarmists.


Ironically, time and time again, when we do implement change, often out of long-overdo necessity, we find the actual effect to be so small as to all but go unnoticed if not an improvement in exactly those arenas the fear police insisted would be devastated by the change. Usually whatever costs would have been even cheaper if the changes had been implemented when first noticed.

I think about this often. I like change. I can’t think of anything more conducive to failure than stagnation, and history has many examples of the very mighty getting their butts handed to them because they were rotting from the inside out. Feel free to provide examples. I would, but, hey, I can’t do all the homework. (If you want me to, feel free to leave a question on my other blog.)

I’ve talked about this where I work, often argued vociferously for changes from the way “we’ve always done things” because something better already exists (first job). I’ve talked about this when advocating finally converting to SI units (IAASS paper I presented) and pointed to the industries that converted with an almost seamless simplicity and actual cost savings rather than loss. The costs that do exist usually do so because of all the pinheads who refuse to change because it’s too “expensive.”

It makes me wonder how many times we let the naysayers cry “Wolf!” before we stop listening to them.

People have reacted with horror and abject fear to all kinds of changes: computers, robotics, vaccines, rockets (I kid you not), having a female Justice in the Supreme Court, having a black man in the White House. So far, no great flood has risen up to smite us. Most of the technology we feared we now couldn’t do without. I remember the great fear when the word came to eradicate CFCs. Now, I’m sure it had an impact on the HVAC world, but none of them seem to have gone out of business and, what do you know, we didn’t have to eliminate air conditioning altogether as quite a few people prophesied.

So, when I read this on our allies who accept gay soldiers without fuss, I wasn’t surprised that it turned out to be a tempest in a teapot. They had the same fears about it as we’ve been citing, except, when they actually implemented it, turns out their soldiers were grownups and hardly blinked. But, we’re still saying our troops can’t handle it, that just because our allies did it, doesn’t mean we should. We’re much bigger and meaner a military (and the logic behind that is, what?). The point of the Allies’ success isn’t that we should be following, it’s that the only issue is the pinheads who fear it. The issue isn’t how big your army is, it’s how big the soldiers are.

And I think the pinheads are selling our soldiers and our people short.



  • Roy

    And I think the pinheads are selling our soldiers and our people short.

    Amen! And that's just the thing Patrick Murphy (D-PA, our first legislator who is a veteran of the Iraq war) is saying, that it's an insult to our armed forces to say that they aren't ready for something every other professional in the world takes for granted. I have a feeling this is going to be a long, bitter fight, and the pinheads are going to start calling people some very nasty names very soon.

  • The Mother

    These days, it's more about how smart your soldiers are and how good they are at using their weapons.

    Nonetheless, remember that America is a bastion of Puritanical thinking, especially where sexuality is concerned. This is not found in any other Westernized, civilized country--sex and sexuality are not only recognized, but topics for polite conversation.

    Americans will eventually get a chance to prove that they can behave like grown-ups in their response to sexuality (of ALL types), but it probably won't be anytime soon. Still WAY too many Puritans out there.

  • Stephanie B

    Would you say, TM, that they are more puritanical that Israelis? I'm asking, not criticizing. I really have no idea.

  • The Mother

    I haven't been to Israel. I have a nephew there, now, who regularly sends home stories that make his not so squeamish mother blush.

    While the Orthodoxy control much of Israeli politics, they do not seem to have a lock on the sexual mores of their youth. Israel is a pretty cosmopolitan place, they tell me.

  • Relax Max

    Everyone seems to be calling those they don't agree with "pinheads" today. That's Bill O'Reilly's favorite word. You need to start watching some other news channel. How about just calling them "dumbasses" if they don't "get it" like you do? Dumbasses is a much better word than pinhead.

    But if you insist, you can buy a doormat from O'Reilly's store that says, "No Pinheads Allowed."

    Now that I've raised your emotions a bit Stephanie, hows about you give another example of real change besides Black presidents and gays in the military? Those have been beaten to death. I say if you love change you should quit your job tomorrow, eh? Ok, not funny.

    Change is good. For once we are in agreement. Well, more than once. But right now what I would like to see in the way of change is in the way we use energy. I mean we NEED to get off this oil, don't you think? We've been talking about it for, what? - 30 years? - and still no real progress.

    Green energy is change I can believe in. Are we too afraid of change? Too dumb to invent it? Too lazy to try? What?

    What are we doing to support our president? Obama recently gave a speech on how we HAVE to get off this oil addiction. He's right. But this morning when I woke up and turned on the computer, the first thing that hit me was an ad on Yahoo that said "Introducing the new 325 hp Nissan convertible."

    Give me a break.

  • Relax Max

    PS - Please favor us with some "change" quotes this Saturday if you have time. I'll bet there are a bunch of really good ones. Try. Pretty please? (I love your Saturday quotes. :)

  • Stephanie B

    Max, in this case, pinhead does not mean people who don't agree with me but rather people who cry "Wolf" every time they face change (usually because they have a vested interest in the old way of doing business no matter what it does to everyone else). I had several examples, mind you, including the change to SI, too.

    I'm talking about the pinheads who scream at every technological breakthrough and every new idea. I'm talking about the people who vilified Galileo and Copernicus for challenging the established thinking and dismissed Goddard and his rockets. I'm talking about the people who told Lincoln to his face that slaves were better off as slaves and eradicating slavery would bankrupt the south (which slavery was actually doing). I'm talking about the people who fought against child labor laws and screamed how no one would be able to afford to be in business any more.

    I'm not giving Mr. O'Reilly credit because, to be honest, I'm not sure who he is. I don't watch ANY TV and I've heard the name, but I'm not sure which side of which issues he's on. Nor do I care.

    But on going green, I'm entirely with you. I haven't written much about it since I moved my blog because I'd done several posts on my old one and kind of beat it to death. I did one for Earth day and here and here. You know, I didn't beat it to death after all. I'm overdo for another one.

    And I think that's an excellent suggestion for my Saturday Quote-a-thon.

  • Aron Sora

    I've also heard that the KKK is gaining strength because of Obama's election. It may be propaganda, but it's not surprising that they are doubling up their efforts to resist this change.

    I couldn't find a better source. But, from that thins "A CNN report stated that on the day of the election of President Obama, a 55-year-old man by the name of Don Black, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, stated that more than 2000 people joined his website. Statistics suggest KKK and other hate groups are gaining strength because of the election of Obama."

    This is the single most desperate thing I've seen them do. Well... there is the Neo-nazi Mars base

  • Stephanie B

    In my opinion, Aron, that's the fringe getting fringier. That can, unfortunately, lead to violence but rarely has the power to undo a change.

    Unfortunately, if the fringe gets too much press, people confuse the fringe with the public and that can prevent change.

    What I think is neat is that, once change happens, most of the people who worried because of all the fears floated around realize that they were worried because they thought everyone else was like the fringe fruitcakes when, in reality, the fringe fruitcakes were largely limited to the ones crying wolf. And change was much easier than anticipated.

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