Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Condoms and Quality Engineering

WARING: This is a rant, it was a long day, and, well, it was a long day. I plan on making sense of it later.

For one reason or another I’ve been unable to get the
Popes condemnation of condoms out of my mind. And since I had a shitty day, I want to rant irrationally about it.

So then, I’d like to start with an analogy from experience in my day to day work on the job. Part of my function as Quality Engineer is to perform D.O.E.’s (design of experiments), which is in short a failure mode analysis of a new product through the design of certain experiments geared towards fleshing out, as stated, particular failure modes. Another function I serve is the statistical analysis of defects, whether it be from the field or suppliers, and implementing SPC (Statistical Process Controls) within our manufacturing processes to prevent defects from occurring in the first place.

What I’d like to talk about here is the formal Corrective and Preventive Action process (CaPA), which is generally related to a specific defect that has been identified internally, from the customer, or the supplier. Later, I’d like to relate my methods and findings in this process to the issue of aids in Africa and teen pregnancy in America.

Let me begin with a simple defect mode wherein we receive a product back from a customer where a wire has come loose from a crimp. In the generic photo below you see a set of wires that have the ends crimped, which will of course be inserted into the connector. So again, the problem is simply that one of the wires has come loose from its crimp.

Upon seeing a number of issues such as these we open up a formal corrective action which contains, but is not limited to, the following elements:

Problem: In this section we state nothing more then what the problem was, “Loose Crimps”, and perhaps what product or customer was involved.

Containment Action:
This is merely a short term corrective action that’s aimed at addressing the effect of the problem – in this case, “Loose Crimps”. Since we don’t yet know the cause of the problem (and assuming we were the ones who performed the crimping), a containment action may involve inspecting inventory of already crimped wires, and verifying that in process procedures and tooling are in place. Essentially, prior to us addressing whatever the problem is - which may take up to 2 months - we need to do some short term things to make sure that no further product leaves the building. Perhaps we do something as simple as implement some short term inspections, or even put the product on hold. The key (again) is that in this process we’re addressing the effects, we don’t know the cause, but we’re going to do whatever is necessary to mitigate the problem.

Root Cause:
This should be obvious enough – what was the cause? Much work may have been done to get to this point, and once we get here it should be understood that all we know is one thing, the “Root Cause”, i.e. no solutions have been formally postulated. So we state simply what we’ve discovered as the root of the problem. Lets suppose we discover that the operator was not using the tooling properly which led to crimps that weren’t tight enough on the wire to sufficiently hold it in place - for the sake of simplicity.

Corrective Action:
Unlike the “Containment Action”, which addressed the effects of the issue, the Corrective Action addresses the “cause” of the issue. Now that we know the issue was improper tool use by the operator we may do a couple things to correct the problem; A.) Insure that the operator has been properly trained on the use of the tool, B.) insure that the operator is familiar with the instructions and is following them accordingly. Once we know these things have been satisfied, even though we still have the human element involved, we can to a certain degree say we’ve corrected the problem, but not yet prevented it.

Preventive Action:
This action is always a little more tricky, but simple for this example. Since we know we have a human being as the sole element of assurance, and we know people make mistakes, the above corrective action is highly insufficient. All we’ve said is, “We’ve addressed the issue with the operator, reviewed our process and procedures, retrained, so on, and now we’re good to go”. But the question the customer will always rightly ask is, “What’s preventing the operator from getting lazy?” So that’s where preventive action comes in. In this case, since we have a human operated process we’ll institute SPC (Statistical Process Control), where we sample wire crimps by performing pull tests. Without getting into the details of how this works, through statistical analysis we’re able to tell if problems are arising in the crimper, operator, wire, so on, by looking at the pull test data over time – it’s highly effective.

Walla! Problem fixed!

To Summarize:
Problem:Statement of the problem

Containment Action:
Address the effect.

Root Cause: Define the cause.

Corrective Action:
Address the cause

Preventive Action: Prevent and monitor the cause.

So what’s all this have to so with condom use, aids in Africa, and teen pregnancy? Well, it all has to do to with “Cause and Effect” and how we as a culture deal with both such cases. It is slowly becoming the case that secular society does less and less to address Root Cause, and simply focuses on Containment activity.

For example; In the case of Africa we have aids, which is the effect. When the Pope arrived and stated that condom use wasn’t the answer, he was merely recognizing the fact that condom use is nothing more than a containment action, a tool that addresses effects, and not the cause – not to mention the fact that sexual activity outside of marriage is a no no for the Pope anyway, which is really the real answer for him. The cause of aids – and / or its spread - while not being necessarily the Root Cause per se, is due to rampant and complete unadulterated sexual promiscuity; whether it’s premarital sex, adultery, what have you (now this is not withstanding the other causes of aids, but it has been identified that the “other causes” are not the main cause). Those who criticize the Pope for his stance are generally those who don’t recognize, or who fail to want to address the human element and consider the Containment Action as the best solution to the problem. But in the long term this is nothing more than a mitigating solution and doesn’t address the main contributing factor – which is personal responsibility.

Let me switch [quick] to teen pregnancy in America as this has been a hot topic for many years. Over the past number of years it’s been the case of the Left that the solution to all our problems is getting condoms in the hands of our children, and the right to abortions. If we can educate our children about safe sex, then we can mitigate pregnancy and lower STD rates. YEAH!. The (helping myself) idea is, kids are going to have sex whether we like it or not, so it should be our job as liberal “friend to your kids” parents, to make sure our kids are safe…. BULLSHIT.

Everyone is far to afraid in our increasingly Leftist Liberal society to address issues of morality and it has become quite fashionable to do whatever it is we can to implement as many Containment / Effect Management issues as possible such that people can simply do and choose as they please. Drawing on the video from Schwartz below, I completely agree that people in the western world have too much choice, and I believe that much of that choice has arisen out of an inability of people to want to deal with others so called rights and moral attitudes. It’s no wonder that the decline of the western moral sense has followed in tail by the decline of the western worlds appeal to religion (there I go helping myself again).

The bottom line is that condoms and abortion are containment actions, both of which I have no serious issues with in and of themselves, but certainly we have to wean ourselves off these things as the crutch for our social problems. So again the issue for me surrounds the fact that our society treats them as corrective and preventative actions, plain and simple. More and more they are both pushed out into the forefront and into our children’s faces, such that, it teaches our children [wrongly] that given these mitigating factors I can behave and act as I choose to. In effect, it gives them license to do as they choose with no real consequences.

Back to my QA example; if I was to tell my customer that I hadn’t addressed the behavior of the operator who was the cause of the problem, but simply mitigated the issue by putting tape on the crimps (which wouldn’t have nearly the pull force and may only help in certain applications), they’d have my balls in a pickle jar to be sure. In the manufacturing industry, especially in the military and aerospace environment I work in, there’s no room for unadulterated liberalism, touchy feely bullshit, and hop skipping around dealing with people. If you can’t do the job, you're river side for sure.

Clearly I’m ranting here, and I’m by no means offering any solutions or in any way advocating a call to religious fundamentalism; but for Christ’s sake, this fundy new wave Liberal environment we’re in these days which continually pokes fun at religion and it’s causes is opening the doors to problems that didn’t exist to such an extreme in years past. Granted the past was sacked with its own problems; with communities in themselves being strong, moral, but extremely racist and ethnocentric where cultures of people suffered off the backs of the so called moral. But today we’re slowly trading that system for one large fucked up culture which is spiritually and emotionally bankrupt and aims at rotting out the cores of everyone equally.

WELL FUCK YOU and all you dick flingin’ son’s a bitches. The next Liberal program will surely be “COMDOMS FOR GUNS”. Don’t kill the bitch, just fuck the crap out of her and make her feel like a dirty whore.


  1. Anonymous3:25 PM

    I've never really seen any dick flingin sons a bitches, but you had me on yer side till then Andy. I'm unwrapping a new bar of soap for yer potty mouth! LMAO!

  2. Well,
    I suppose at the time it seemed like a worthy cap-stone to the ills of weary day; not to mention the fact that if I wasn’t going to fill the holes of everything I aimed to say with sound argumentation, I’d color it in at the end with all my fancy “sentence enhancers” to demonstrate the power of my then, current emotional state.

    I like my bar soap with mustard awn’ it, mm-hm.

  3. Eh, I don't know who these liberals are you're talking about. Bill Clinton got it exactly right, abortions should be safe, legal, and rare. I have never met or heard of anyone who was pro-abortion, which is just a right-wing talking point. Whenever you encounter an articulate leftist, you will never hear abortion mentioned without also sex education. The Clinton formula encapsulates the fact that we need to be aware of the consequences of our actions, which is exactly what is generally missing from the right-wing program of political action as it is carried out culturally.

    I don't know--maybe you're fine with abstinence-only programs, and the dramatic rise in BJs and saddlebacking that accompanies them. But I doubt these same kids are using condoms, which means that, while doing it in the ass means you won't likely become pregnant, you are still just as likely to attain and spread STDs.

    But yes, given the choice between killing the bitch and making her a dirty whore, I will choose dirty whore ever day of the week. That's just my pinko' commie aversion to death for anyone coming out.

  4. “Bill Clinton got it exactly right, abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.”

    Absolutely, Matt! I stated that in an off hand way, that they shouldn’t be a crutch to our social problems.

    I’ve certainly met plenty of people who are pro-abortion though, but that’s really beside the point.

    That we need to be aware of the consequences of our actions is to me nothing more then the correct rhetoric to use – but it clearly isn’t working. What we do today is essentially hand the kid a 12 pack of beer and say, “Now don’t drink this, but if you do….”

    “abstinence-only programs”,
    me, I’m not suggesting that at all. I’m no more a fan of the Pope than I am of Richard Dawkins – but my point on the matter stands.

    My point is that causes are not being addressed outside of rhetorical bullshit, and these problems we have today with STD’s and teen pregnancy are far greater than in the past. So what’s changed?

    What’s changed, I’m suggesting, is that we’re more prone to the use of effect management.

    Am I wrong? If I am, where has cause management been used and how is it working?

    These are absolutely liberal vs conservative talking points – the extreme of both sides I find to be douche-baggish and lacking in the common use of reason.

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  6. Quite a rant!

    I am critical of the usual secular arguments against the Pope's stance on the AIDS/condom question, because I think they make an error when judging one moral perspective from the standpoint of another, without quite realising that is what they are doing.

    But I think I have a few problems with your post here too. There was this post hoc ergo propter hoc here:
    "It’s no wonder that the decline of the western moral sense has followed in tail by the decline of the western worlds appeal to religion (there I go helping myself again)."

    And then there is the analogy of the crimped wires. You have a specification and a set of procedures that have an evidence base to support the notion that you can address the root cause and take preventative measures.

    Where is the evidence in the condom case? Well as far as I can see, the smart money follows the 'trust in Allah but tether your camel first' approach: educate and empower with regards sexual morality and make condoms available. Which suggests that it is the Pope's policy which is sub-optimal from a pragmatic point of view. That's why the failure mode analysis analogy itself, fails.

  7. Well,
    you guys are right - and I don't really have an answer. Which is, I suppose, why I place this in the category of a rant.

    I don't know - I guess I'll have to wait for my kids to get older such that I have a true reality to react to....