The Good Nut Paradox

People are funny. Thank goodness!

I am constantly amazed by the human quirk that I term the "good nut paradox". Here is an imaginary tale that I think sums it up.

I happen to write a simple little program one day to help me process some output that I happen to download from the net each day. The data is not in quite the format that I like, so I write half a page of Perl to manipulate it. After that small one hour investment, I decide to stroke my ego, and I upload the program to a popular "free software" website.

A few weeks later, I get a phone from (can you believe it!) Bill Gates. Yes, it seems that Bill, still trying to pretend he's technically savvy, is finally thinking he should get rid of that bloody 'CRNL' thing and come into line with the UNIX standard of terminating lines in text files with NLs. Hey, forget the cost of Y2K, and forget that stupid DOJ legal action, if the corporate world ever gets pissed and sends him a bill for all of the lost time and income caused by his less than intelligent choice years ago, he could die the death of a thousand cuts as he was sued in every civil court in the nation.

So, Bill finally gets around to asking me for permission to use part of my super cool utility to provide a tool for everyone to convert their old files into the new standard format. -- OK, I realize this is getting a little far fetched, but bare with me.

Now what happens? Instead of thinking of Bill as just some clueless wanna be out there trying to avoid re-inventing the wheel, I realize I am talking to the wealthiest man on Earth! And instead of seeing my code as that little toy that I wrote in less than an hour, I suddenly view that program as nothing short of the Pink Panther Diamond!

As the squirrels are apt to say, "that's one good nut!" -- Moehead.

So, now, suddenly, instead of brushing off Bill in a matter of fact way, and getting back to important GJT work, I am suddenly thinking of ways to prove that the version of my code up on the web was placed their by my evil stepmother, and that I had no intention in the world of letting anyone use it without proper compensation (can we say, "sell 10,000 shares of MicroSoft").

We have all had this experience. One moment, some thing seems to be completely worthless, the next, it is priceless. In the stock market, we see endless examples of this paradox, along with its complement, "buy it at any price!.......SELL!".

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