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Re: Mandarins, Lifers, and Talents

On Tue, 21 Nov 1995, Lou Poppler wrote:

> Mandarins were involved in the genesis, certainly, both of our little 
> college network, and of the military's arpanet.  The mandarins provided
> our subsidies, and some of them found ways to use the net in doing their
> academic work.  Very many of them ignored us.  

Or tried their uptmost best to ... until we came a knocking.

> Among us paid computer staff,
> the mandarins held occasional blue-sky meetings to plot the future and
> standards for the future; the lifers went about their business of feeding
> hollerith cards to the mainframes; and the talents immediately set about
> exploring this orthogonal new quirk of their machine.  All the edges were
> rough in the beginning, and for a long time after the beginning.  

Gee, I thought, err ... uhhm, shoot, aren't we still at the beginning??

Not the very beginning, but the beginning.

Wasn't all of the NII stuff simply a true mandarin plot^H^H^H^H
scheme^H^H^H^H^H^H contingency to get enough money to continue
"The Project" during some very lean budgetary years? 

Or am I behind in my reading again ...

> Network
> code arrived in huge inspired chunks from our eccentric talents.  Other
> talents, staff and user alike, would go out to play on the network and
> find little suggestions for the eccentric talents responsible.

All talents are by definition _irresponsible_.  They have to be in order
to take the risks, sometimes some very silly risks in hindsight. 

> I think the early networks were less than satisfying for the mandarins.

A satisfied mandarin??  Hmmm.  That'll take a couple of cycles to 
compute. ;-)

> It required arcane mandarin accounting schemes to rationalize our
> perpetual defecits, even in a 'funny money' accounting world.

Well, they've saved my butt (I think) when someone hung up the phone on

And for this, they've certainly got *some* of my allegiance.  ;-)

And they have my gratitude.

> Policies and standards were strained by the sudden accessibility of 
> the foreign operations, under alien chains of command.  The networks
> were immediately untidy and required compromise from the user.
> The biggest contribution from the mandarins, and I mean this with 
> all gratitude, is that they chose, again and again, not to shut us down.

Chin. chin.

> ObCrypto: we were still getting the bugs out of rot13 back then.

Ahh, before they broke the code on what a baker's dozen REALLY was all
about.  Way back in the days when one-half was still working on rot12.

Alice de 'nonymous ...

                                  ...just another one of those...

P.S.  This post is in the public domain.
                  C.  S.  U.  M.  O.  C.  L.  U.  N.  E.