To: Mr. George DiPaolo
Director, Studio I.T.
Walt Disney Pictures & Television
From: Tom Naughton
Dear George –
I regret to inform you that after some serious soul-searching, I no longer feel it would be ethical for me to continue writing software for Walt Disney Pictures & Television, or for any other company. I know I recently reported being about 75% finished with the updated version of the DVD Trailer Management System, which was true (actually, it’s closer to 85% as of today), but for the good of the company, you should delete all my code files from the SourceSafe database and hire a real programmer to begin the project from scratch. You should also get rid of all the other systems I’ve programmed for Disney over the years, as it’s highly unlikely any of them actually work.
Bear in mind, I’m not quitting in reaction to anything you’ve done. You’re a fine project manager. The soul-searching began after several people posted notes on my Fat Head blog and YouTube channel, pointing out that I’m “just a comedian” without a degree in nutrition or any other health science, and therefore I have no business critiquing studies or challenging conventional health and dietary guidelines — especially any nutrition advice handed down by doctors, who spend several years learning to prescribe drugs.
Obviously, these critics are correct. For several decades now, I’ve made the mistake of thinking that since my college education consisted of reading books and academic papers and listening to lectures, I could become educated in other fields by reading books and academic papers and listening to lectures. So once I started doing research for Fat Head and became fascinated with nutrition science, I began reading like crazy. I ordered dozens of books and downloaded more articles and research papers than I can count. I listened to online lectures by MDs and PhDs, and sometimes even attended in person.
But it was all for nothing. As one of my critics informed me, reading books and research papers on my own doesn’t count as an education since I wasn’t supervised by professors who could correct the errors in my thinking. I must admit I see the point, even though I had a few professors in college whose errors in thinking were so profound, some of us wondered how they’d made it through graduate school. But they did, and that’s what really matters.
Which brings me back to the programming work: honestly, George, what the hell were you thinking when you hired me as a software contractor? Programming large, complicated database systems with dozens of end-users (or hundreds, in the case of the DVD Trailer sytem) requires an awful lot of high-level skill and knowledge. And yet you gave me those assignments in spite of the fact that I made it perfectly clear I never took a single programming class. If you’ll recall our first interview, you asked me specifically about my education in computer science, and I replied that I’d bought some books and taught myself how to write software programs.
So while I apologize for my role in all of this, you’re the one who works for Disney, and you’re the one who kept calling me every other year or so with another big assignment. You’re the one who let me program two of those systems in languages I’d never seen before, telling me to just order some books and get up to speed. (God only knows how messed up those programs are.) And you’re the one who offered to set me up with a remote computer at the studio so I could continue taking on assignments after moving to Tenneessee. So now that we know my programming work is illegitimate, you have to accept your share of the blame.
If it’s any consolation, you’re by no means the only one paying the price for my lack of formal training. I need to notify at least 25 law firms that they must immediately cease using my trademark and patent tracking software. Worse, several pharmaceutical companies must now replace the hugely expensive clinical-trial management system sold to them by a company that hired me to build it. Man, were they fooled … they told me I was the fourth programmer they hired, but the only one they kept. One of the owners even said, “I don’t get it. The last guy had a degree in computer science and every Microsoft certification you can name, but he didn’t have a @#$%ing clue how to build a decent system.” I have no choice now except to urge that company to dump my work, re-hire the guy with the degree, and rebuild the whole thing.
The really frustrating part of all this for me is that I’m not even “just a comedian” now. I never took a class in standup comedy either, so I can’t even go back to working the clubs and cruise ships. Since my degree is in journalism, I’m stuck with hoping a newspaper or magazine somewhere is interested in hiring a 51-year-old rookie reporter.
Anyway, I’m sorry for the inconvenience. I was really looking forward to showing you the new features I added to the DVD Trailer Management System.
p.s. – If there are any electric light bulbs in your office, I suggest getting rid of them before they explode and start a fire. Thomas Edison only attended school for four months, and his instructor described him as “addled.”