The bike shed

29 March 2006 » Politics, Potpourri, Web development

I first heard about this concept a couple of months ago and thought it was a clever observation about human nature. In the past few weeks however, I’ve come to realize that it is, in fact, human nature in a nutshell. I have been subject to it more than a few times recently and find myself doing it to others.

At its heart, the bike shed meme – detailed in a book by C. Northcote Parkinson – encapsulates the idea that when one proposes a simple solution to a simple business problem, regardless of its merits, that solution will be critically analyzed and subject to eternal debate about how the problem can be better solved.

On the other hand, when one suggests a solution to a more complicated problem, the audience tends to accept the proposal because they have nothing to add or because they assume you are indeed correct.

Parkinson shows how you can go in to the board of directors and get approval for building a multi-million or even billion dollar atomic power plant, but if you want to build a bike shed you will be tangled up in endless discussions.

Parkinson explains that this is because an atomic plant is so vast, so expensive and so complicated that people cannot grasp it, and rather than try, they fall back on the assumption that somebody else checked all the details before it got this far.

A bike shed on the other hand. Anyone can build one of those over a weekend, and still have time to watch the game on TV. So no matter how well prepared, no matter how reasonable you are with your proposal, somebody will seize the chance to show that he is doing his job, that he is paying attention, that he is here.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t be a hater.

Alvin’s two cents

16 March 2006 » Potpourri

So I finally had a chance to catch up on my mail after being away for six weeks. I just encountered the best envelope that I have ever seen. Alvin found a way to make use of all those outdated stamps and some spare change. Apparently you can send cash in the mail.

How can the Finnish Ice Hockey team not win Olympic gold?

23 February 2006 » Potpourri

“That’s not bad. You can always get new teeth.” Teemu Selanne, after losing three in the game against the US.

Wikipedia rules

01 February 2006 » Potpourri

Never heard of noodling? Need a list of Finnish idioms?

California public television rules

28 January 2006 » Potpourri

Old school

02 January 2006 » Football, Potpourri

Doug Flutie makes the first drop kick in 64 years. Amazing. This is particularly freaky since I was reading this article in the December issue of Maxim the day before while waiting for a haircut.

This alternative to a place kick is still technically legal – players behind the line of scrimmage can boot an impromptu field goal at any time. Old NFL footballs resembled a rugby ball, allowing for controlled bounces, and guys like Jim Thorpe kicked it regularly. The Bears’ Ray McLean converted it last on a PAT in the NFL championship game in 1941. Hey, Vanderjagt, why not kick like a real man?

The doctor is on.. line

17 October 2005 » Potpourri, Web design, Web development

My sister upgrades her Web site to reflect the new digs at Washington University in St. Louis. I provided the layout, PHP and MySQL do the rest. Score another one for easy to set up and maintain LAMP-based Websites.


14 July 2005 » Potpourri

“One time is chance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s a conspiracy.” What is up with all the Florida license plates on vehicles in the state of Connecticut this summer? I’ve seen at least one a day in June and July. Hmm. Meditate on this, I will.

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