This is the first of a series of essays I will publish
here and elsewhere, in an effort to solve what I regard as some
fundamental problems that are endemic to the computer
I have felt called to my Duty several times in my career. I have
never regretted performing it, but doing so has been a heavy burden, as
it always came at great cost. This is one of those times - I will
explain in the next essay I publish just why.
November 1, 2005
Charless Russell Crawford was an engineer too, an electrical
engineer. Once a carpenter,
he was inspired to enlist in the Navy
one snowy evening while roofing a house, when he struck his thumb real
hard with a hammer. The Navy sensed my father's
potential for leadership and sent him to study at the University of Idaho,
where he met my mother Patricia Ann Speelmon. My sister was born while
they were still students. After graduation,
he went on to Officer Candidate School and was given his commission. The
telegram with news of my birth took two weeks to
reach him: he was deep in the Phillipine jungle getting trained in
survival, as the Vietnam War was just then
heating up: the year was 1964. My father's engineering specialty was
electronics: guidance and control systems.
The lesson my father taught me, a lesson I only now, as I
speak, realize for the first time I was
ever taught, is to Do My Duty. You already know
my father did his for his country. I want
you to know that he did his duty to his family as a husband, father and
provider, and he did it well.
He did his duty as a teacher too: I learned science and engineering at
my father's knee, as we worked on projects
together. Once we had a contest to see who could make a working
telephone from stuff found lying around the house.
Engineers have other Masters who demand duty of us: our profession,
our conscience, those who invest in,
purchase or use what we design, our coworkers, and the public.
Listen to me carefully, and never forget what I'm
about to say. I want all of you to spend
some time thinking it over deeply, then I want you to discuss it among