|When I worked at Kawasaki Robotics, I had a boss, Pete Plourde, who was about my age. Over the course of two years, I learned that he was pretty interesting, a jazz musician with a bachelor's degree in music, an aviation technician with an associate's in airframe and powerplant, and last, a shop teacher, with a master's degree in vocational education. |
He did not do much teaching in schools because he went to work for GMF Robotics, a partnership created by General Motors and Fujitsu's Automated Numerical Controls division. When Kawasaki came to the USA to sell their rebundled "Unimate" robots, they hired him. Two years later, he hired me. Two years after that, he was dead.
We never got along. It was my fault. I hate authority. He was tolerant and helpful and cheerful. He was also the most Japanese person I have ever met who is not from Japan. He was nominally an American, but his mindset was perfect for Japanese companies -- and for aviation maintenance, actually, where you want people who follow procedures perfectly, rather than philosophically questioning the need for procedures (which is what I do).
There was one time, we in the Training & Documentation department were standing around knocking Field Service. We often worked together and I had just come from donning my official Kawasaki gray work uniform and fixing a broken robot at a Ford plant with one of the service technicians. I must have picked up a dozen washers this guy did not replace. "The Japanese use too many washers," he said. Back at the office, we just shook our heads at those guys and commisated with ourselves at the injustice of their department having more status than ours. Pete said, "You can't do that when you fix aircraft. When you fix aircraft, you have to follow procedures, and do you know why?" (Above our heads, in little bubbles, we all had images of aircraft falling out of the skies...) "Because the FAA says you do, that's why!"
See, he was really sold on the rules, on having rules, on following rules.
I did not get along with him. So, when he was killed in the project lab during a safety test, it hit us all pretty hard.
Since then, I have tried to be more open, even (or especially) when intellectual disagreements seem inevitable.
I knew Bill from East Lansing, when he owned Liberty Coins. I wrote an obituary for him in the MSNS MichMatist magazine, and I posted about him on Lindsay's new site, Solo Passion.
I am very deeply saddened to report that my dear friend Bill Bradford passed away on Thursday, December 8, 2005 at the age of 58. He was the founder of Liberty magazine and a founding co-editor and publisher of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. He died at his home in Port Townsend, Washington, surrounded by family and friends, after many months of battling cancer.
We all enjoy the intellectual rough and tumble as if it were important in the long run. Some of it is. Most of it is not.
You have to ask yourself what you would say on RoR that you would not say at the funeral of the person to whom you are replying.