In addition to your good point about experience, stability is also a key factor. I have been with my company nearly 25 years. In the past five years, I've seen some amazing kids come along who could do 2-4 times the work I do (and probably at half the price)... but as soon as they've buffed up their experience points and leveled up, they're gone.
My skillset may be largely obsolete, but I know the product inside and out from a user/business perspective, and although it takes me a bit longer to learn all this newfangled dot-net-this and agile-that, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to stay relevant and stay for the long haul.
Now if you'll excuse me I need to get back to studying up on this new language called HTML. <flash>Hello, world!</flash>
What's more, it shouldn't work. When people submit WtP petitions demanding that the federal government research this or spend more/less on that or provide some additional service or whatever, it's fairly harmless. Even if the petition somehow miraculously causes real action, it's just government spinning its wheels and spending money.
When you start using petitions to bypass due process in the judicial system, you open the door to mob rule. Don't like someone? Start a petition to have them prosecuted. With a population the size of the US, it won't take any effort at all to round up enough participants who share your dislike of that person, or just follow the crowd, or do it for the lulz.
I detest CoS and agree that they have abused their "religious" exemption in horrific ways. But I can't get behind any crowdsourced efforts to take them down.
First, they came for the Scientologists...
I went 15+ years without learning SQL because Clipper was my bread and butter from 1986 to 2010. The first time I saw SQL, I wondered why on earth anyone thought it was any use... dBase and its derivatives seemed so much more robust. I still like the way Clipper et al operate on a single record at a time and manipulating the current-record pointer is so easy, but I've come to grudgingly accept that SQL's recordset results of a query are useful too. It's all part of my extremely belated growth from procedural to object-oriented mindset.
And have I said "get off my lawn" lately? Get off my lawn.
I was *the* expert at my company for our original products -- standalone database applications developed in the days of MSDOS. Although I was second-generation (apart from a smaller application I wrote myself), the original developers had long since moved on and for 15 years I held court. I knew every source file and every bug by name; I could crank out modifications at a moment's notice; I was sole technical support for the final 5 years of the products' existence.
Suddenly management realized that we didn't have enough customers on the legacy products to need me doing a combination code maintenance / support any more, and there was a scramble to find a new spot for me.
Look upon me with horror and beware, kids: Don't wait for your job description to change before you start learning new technology. Dive into it NOW, so you'll be ready when your current skill set is obsolete.
Face-to-face meetings may be more efficient for people who are aural learners, but not everyone can send, receive, and retain information that way. Personal discussions also tend to drift off-topic, so they waste as much time as they save, and of course they're not an option if the participants aren't all physically in the same office.
So... it's email for me. I have time to organize my thoughts, catch and edit mistakes, and keep an electronic trail to refer back to later when I can't recall exactly what was said.
That "first errand" is pretty much how I handled parenting, without the involvement of school/police/whatever supervision. I would lurk in the background while my kids went on their quasi-independent journeys of discovery, gradually increasing the radius of their area of autonomy proportional to their age and ability.
The other determining factor was indeed specific location. In our quiet suburb north of Houston, I didn't have a problem with my daughter playing unattended near the house for short periods. In a neighborhood in north Dallas with a MUCH higher crime rate, greater population density, and nearby high-traffic roads... we didn't even let her go to the mailbox in front of the house without a parent within arm's reach, and by then she was 8.
A later move to Cheyenne, Wyoming gave them nearly unlimited freedom. Our son would walk a mile or two from our house to the nearest school playground by the time he was 10, and 13-year-old daughter had no problem walking a couple of miles through the middle of town to get from a friend's house to the library.
Last time we visited Dallas, our vehicle broke down and I had to walk to a convenience store to get transmission fluid. My son - by then 15 - came with me, and with his physical training from karate and football I was glad to have him along to protect me.
You know, I'm a bit right-of-center on gun issues (which means that in most conversations I manage to piss off both my more conservative and more liberal friends, often with the same statement). I have no problem with widespread gun ownership and use of guns for personal self-defense.
But this... holy mother of Charles Whitman, how can this not get into the wrong hands with tragic consequences? Random urban sniper sprees just got a whole lot worse.