November 2009
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Don’t Make Monoliths

Come gather ’round friends
And I’ll tell you a tale
Of when the red iron pits ran plenty.

Asterix was worried. Once again he’d woken up with his bed surrounded by water. It appeared that the melting polar ice caps were leading to a rise in the sea level, which was threatening to flood the whole of Armorica. The only solution would be to move the entire town further inland, and they’d run out of magic potion. He got up, got dressed, and went to find Overcomplix, the town’s architect. When he found him, Overcomplix looked worried too.

“So, Overcomplix, how are the plans to migrate the village inland progressing?”, inquired Asterix. “To be honest”, replied Overcomplix, “not very well. You see, when we designed this village, we opted for a tightly coupled, fully integrated architecture. The town hall is joined to the market by solid iron girders, and all of the houses are tightly welded to the market. If we could move one building at a time, we’d be okay. But if we try to separate them, the whole village will fall apart. I think Gantchartix is working on a plan, though.”

“That’s no good at all”, sighed Asterix. “I’ll talk to Gantchartix, but it sounds like we’ve built a monolith. Let me find Obelix. He’s helped us out of tight spots before.”


When Asterix found Gantchartix, he was surrounded by Microsoft Project Plans and grinning from ear to ear. “I’ve created a masterpiece”, smiled Gantchartix. “The village is saved. All we need to do is get one hundred thousand doves and connect them to the village with pieces of rope. Then, all the doves need to lift off at exactly the same moment, fly inland a bit, and land at exactly the same time. If one of them mistimes it, the village will fall apart. But look at my project plan – it’s perfect.”

Asterix wasn’t convinced. Once again, Gantchartix was living inside his plan instead of reality. “That sounds like a Big Bang approach to me, Gantchartix. Those never work. Your plan is a monolith. I really need to speak to Obelix. He has experience with these things.”

All this worrying had made Asterix hungry. He decided to visit Procurafix to grab a bite to eat.

“Sorry, Asterix, we don’t have any food,” explained Procurafix. “We are in the  middle of evaluating responses to our Supply Everything To Armorica RFP. The lawyers are embroiled in a battle over the Boar Hunting Rights clause, so the process might take a while yet. Rather annoyingly, this probably means we won’t have grain or water for a while either. It’s a single contract for everything.”

“That is annoying”, said Asterix. “In fact, your process sounds rather like another monolith. I’ll see if Obelix can move it forward. He is good at that.”

Building A Monolith

Obelix seemed to be the only one that could bypass Procurafix’s rules as when Asterix found him he was feasting on nuts and oysters. Asterix explained the sad state of affairs, and asked Obelix for help.

“Sorry, Asterix. I’m afraid I have some bad news. The Goths have offered me a much higher day rate as part of an extremely attractive package. Effective immediately, I’m working for them. You’re on your own.”

“Oh no! We’re doomed,” cried Asterix. “We should never have made those fucking monoliths.”

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