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BOFH: The stupidity criticality

C no evil - OK, maybe just a bit

Episode 14

"I just don't understand him!" the PFY snaps.

"Yes, well, you've got to remember we’re talking about a new Boss, so we're really looking at one of three types of people," I reply. "A - a grizzled professional who's seen and endured the stupidity of users. B - an idiot with no idea who just keeps his head down and waits till hometime. Or C - an idiot with no idea who's not going to let incompetence slow him down. They all have different approaches when confronted by users in their first few weeks."

"How do you mean exactly?"

"Person A will know users are idiots and take everything they say with a pinch of salt and an tablespoon of chili powder. B will think that users know everything and will consult us about every little complaint or 'good idea' that gets reported to them, and C will proceed blindly, promising solutions to users' problems, whims, flights of fancy and poorly thought-out technical aspirations."

"But why do we always end up with Cs?" laments the PFY.

"We must have been very bad in former lives," I sigh. "Or the end of the world is so near that karma has decided to clear the backlog of crap lives."

“He’s recommending we use Windows NT as our server OS because the number of new security vulnerabilities is so low!”

“Yes, he was talking to one of the Beancounters about it yesterday,” I respond. “He was also talked into considering securing everything in our file shares with non-inherited access lists.”

“How can someone be that stupid?”

"It's hard to say how it happens," I shrug. "Some pundits claim that stupidity has a similar payload to that of the atom."

"You've lost me," the PFY says.

"Well, in equation E=mc^2," I explain, "the vast power of the atom, which has such a tiny mass, is bolstered because of the immense value of the speed of light squared."

"Nope, nothing."

"The energy of the atom is so huge not because of the mass of the atom itself but because of the speed of light, squared," I go on. "And so it is with stupidity. While IQ is extremely low, stupidity is vastly high."

"So there's an equation for that then?"

"Of course - N = IQ x S^2."

"S being Stupidity. But what's N stand for?"

"Nightmare. It’s worse when there's blind stupidity in the mix - with the equation N - IQ x bS^2."

"What's the difference between S and bS?"

"It's like the difference between miles and knots. It's stupidity++. With normal stupidity the person might occasionally experience self-doubt. With the blind version they just forge on regardless and hope that it'll be OK."

"So things are looking bad because the boss has blind stupidity?"

"No, things are looking really bad because the Boss has blatant stupidity - BS, which is even worse than the blind kind - because the person knows they're probably wrong but won't back down. And we also have to bear in mind that the IT Director has bS and has always liked Windows NT - because he can ‘understand’ it..."

"That can’t be good!"

"No. When the blatant stupidity of the Boss meets the blind stupidity of the IT Director we're looking at N= IQ x BS^2 x IQ x bS^S, which is, as everyone knows..."

"A stupidity criticality!" the PFY gasps. "We must do something!"

"Already in motion," I counter. "I've bought us some time with the administrivial 'carbon rods' of a ten page business case proposal but I’ve been working on the business equivalent of stuffing them in lead-lined drums, encasing the drums in cement and dropping them in the North Sea."

“How?” the PFY asks.

“I’ve formed a ‘Technology Committee’.”

”Oooh!” the PFY burbles. “A strategic technology committee?”

“Even better, a strategic technology working committee,” I smirk.

“With an overly broad remit, ensuring they’re too busy considering things to ever reach a decision?”

“Uh-huh, And no evaluation critera or due dates. Still, they’ll meet both regularly and often to hammer out the important stuff...”

“The Mission Statement, the Committee Vision and the Core Values?” yelps the PFY.

“Uh-huh,” I reply, suppressing the inevitable gag reflex. “That’ll waste six months, no problems.”

“But there’s no guarantee they won’t come up with something in the meantime!”

“Sure there is - I’ve loaded the committee with technical know-it-alls, each pushing their own barrow and each with their own hidden agenda.”

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“They meet in the private committee room with the high security,” I say.

“The soundproof, airtight, two-way locked one on the 4th floor that’s swept for bugs every six months?” the PFY asks.

“Yep. And right alongside the duct that carries the generator exhaust. An exhaust duct that recently developed a couple of stress factures around the 4th floor vicinity.”

“So if there’s any danger of a resolution being reached?”

“We just cut the power to the building.”

“Which would lock the doors, start the generator and gas them like badgers?” the PFY says.

“Which did lock the doors, start the generator and gas them like medium-sized stripey-faced mammals,” I correct.


“They had a meeting early this morning while I was still testing it.”

“Damn! So this whole conversation was about nothing?”

“Not at all. I just had to tell someone...”

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