Okay, your argument makes much more sense when you put it that way.
(deep sigh of relief)
thank f'n god 'cuz I couldn't believe we were fighting about this.
Those breathtakingly arrogant professors and bureaucrats you describe? The last thing you want to do is force them to innovate. The LAX noise remedy program?
- Here are our contours
- Demonstrate you're within the DNL65 contour by pointing to your house on this map.
- We'll try and prove that we've already done your remedy from our FAA budget because we probably did
- If not here's your money. Go pay an approved contractor off this list.
Seattle-tacoma international airport? whole 'nuther animal because one of those local unthinking bureaucrats decided to innovate.
- What's that? You're bitching? Okay, let's see if you're within our contours.
- Okay, you're within our contours. Let's schedule a time we can invade your house for a day to measure and make sure that your windows actually suck. That'll be our crew of two, with our van, plus an independent acoustical consultant with a crew of two so we can compare numbers and see if we agree.
- Okay, we ran numbers and the acoustical consultants ran numbers and we agree - your windows suck. Awright, now we're going to pay the acoustical consultant to come up with a solution.
- Awright, we've got a solution. Now we, the Port of Seattle, are going to put this out to bid to our list of contractors.
- Awright, we've got a bid. Now we, the Port of Seattle, are going to work with you and the contractor to schedule a time to do this work.
- Awright, the contractor is done. Now we, the Port of Seattle, are going to work with you to schedule a time where our crew of two and the acoustician's crew of two can come out and verify that the job was done correctly and we got the noise isolation we said we would.
That local bureaucrat decided to innovate the budget of his department - and a whole lot of his friends - out of the same puddle of money the FAA gives to all airports. Note that there's only so much money per airport. Note that the fix is the same. But note that our local bureaucrat has managed to pickaxe a large portion of the budget free.
If the FAA had a universal approach to dealing with this problem all airports would do it the same. most of them do it like LAX, which is the smart, not-investigated-by-the-local-news-for-waste approach. I suspect Seattle got away with it (and may still be getting away with it) because it's a smaller community and because nobody in Seattle knows that every other municipality doesn't rake you over the coals so much for not wanting your baby woken up by 747s overhead. The basic problem, from my perspective, is that when you give an idiot leeway you're going to end up with an idiotic solution. When you give a laggard leeway you're going to end up with a half-assed solution.
Our best'n'brightest? They're the ones that can force change. They're the ones that can demonstrate why their solution is better. They're the ones that can force the idiots at Seatac into doing things the efficient way because in my humble opinion, the more incompetent you are the further from the lead you should be. Fortunately the mediocre tend to cluster towards the back anyway.
And that's part of the problem: policy is often executed by the least among us. The brilliant have to carry the morons on their backs. This is good, this is proper, this is tedious, this is inefficient but it's the only way to have a standard.
That's probably where the difference in our perspectives comes from. If I see an arcane industry standard that persists, I presume it's because it's a battle-tested formulation that has withstood decades of challenges. RS-232 was introduced in 1960. We're talking about a 9600-baud data protocol celebrating its 57th birthday. Its contemporaries include the PDP-1 and COBOL. And when I program my 2008 Italian motorcycle using bluetooth from my 2016 Android phone I'm using RS-232.
I have transmitted RS-232 over 500 feet of lamp cord. I have heard of it being transmitted over a quarter mile of power lines. It is not an ideal protocol for much of what we need to do in this modern world but bloody hell it works every time. If there's a control protocol your two disparate devices fall back to, dollars to donuts it's RS-232.
Which is a bigger point - universality. From the article, a Marshall Islands navigational chart:
Mentioned in the article but not linked, an Inuit navigational chart:
Here are two contextual, native-sensitive maps as derived by the locals and they are mutually incomprehensible. Neither is intelligible to a layman. If the Inuit and Marshall Islander were in the same canoe traveling the same archipelago they could make their own maps and point to the different ways both maps outline the same features but no repetition of this process will generate an Inuit-Marshall Islands cartographic translator algorithm.
On the other hand, I can show the Inuit a photo from space and he'll be able to point to which features on his chart coincide to which inlets and coastlines. I can show the Marshall Islander and he'll recognize the islands and point out that his chart has the ocean swells while mine doesn't (but it sure could). Then I could show him a navigational chart of a place he's never been and he'll be able to navigate there - because the lowest common denominator between these two charting systems is the universal one the rest of us use.
It's absurd on the face of it that computers care about our relationship to Greenwich, England to six decimal places. But it's a standard that transmits data over 500 feet of lamp cord. It's absurd on the face of it that we have 24 hours in a day because the Sumerians counted twelve major zodiacs rising above the horizon over the course of a night. But the French at the height of revolution gave up on decimal after a couple years and the Chinese, despite breaking things into 100 minutes, still had 12 hours in a day. Standards are those things that when you've torture tested it to damn near the end of civilization is still standing there marking the seconds.
Advice from my financial planner: if you want to get rich, come up with a unit of measure in your industry. Pontification should be measured in KBs. Artistic simplicity in Veens. That way whenever anyone is talking about that stuff they're using your name which increases your speaking fees and the demand for your publications. After all, who remembers Cuil? But the joke persists.
Which indicates that there's a natural desire (a financial advantage, even) to choke knowledge with newness, to reject that which is old because you can look at your wrist and decide 24 hours, 60 minutes, 60 seconds and this bizarre-ass moving leap-day calendar is f'n absurd without doing the deep dive into the minutiae of horology. But in the process of learning that minutiae you learn why these absurd standards still exist.
European watches used to be measured in lignes - talkin' into the 1980s. A ligne, or "French line", is a twelfth of a pouce and twelve points, which use to be a unit of measure rather than a unitless ratio. American watches used to be measured in calibers which is thoroughly absurd. Nowadays both convert to mm and plenty of old-timers still use the old terminology... but whip out their mm-graduated calipers whenever they need to know something.
And the ones that are most likely to change are the ones who know it's absurd and are already thinking about this stuff... and the ones least likely to change are the ones who won't do it until they're dragged kicking and screaming and that's the best possible outcome for all of us.
It's slow. It's frustrating. It's inefficient. But it's repeatable, it's universal and it's bulletproof. Waymo will one day know where my lawn is in relation to the universal median in Greenwich, England to within a fraction of an inch. They're going to have to correct on a monthly basis for techtonic drift. That is absurd.
But ain't none of us going to come up with anything better 'cuz here we are, hundreds of years after Harrison's death and every time someone tries to change it, shit hits the fan.
Progress is the changes that stick around after everyone who can fuck it up has fucked it up. Thoughtful? Not really. Sturdy?
Both myself and a hypothetical Sumerian five thousand years ago agree it's half an hour before noon. That's not by accident, that's not by design, that's because it's the best system anyone has come up with over the rise of a dozen civilizations.