What I’m Reading

September 25, 2008 — 9 Comments

We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever by Benjamin Mee (interesting)

The Gulf War Did Not Take Place by Jean Baudrillard (this book is the inspiration for Wag the Dog. ridiculous at times but an insightful dissection of the incentives faced by generals and politicians. you should read this)

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas (doesn’t have the conclusion the book deserves but a good, easy read on addiction and (female) youth culture)

The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost: The Grand Strategy of Charles Hill by Molly Worthen (apparently Yale has a Grand Strategy class; unfortunately, the writer is not quite talented enough to pull this book or its subject off. Charlie on the other hand is fascinating.)

The Poverty of Historicism by Karl Popper (I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one if anyone can help)

Wikipedia’s philosophy on rules is a good way to think about your life

Damien Hirst cuts out the middleman of the art industry (NYT)

Manifest Destiny Bullshit

September 22, 2008 — 26 Comments

“When we renounce our dreams we find peace and enjoy a brief period of tranquility, but the dead dreams begin to rot inside us and infect the whole atmosphere in which we live.

What we hoped to avoid in the Good Fight – disappointment and defeat- become the sole legacy of our cowardice.

In love lies the seed of our growth. The more we love, the closer we are to the spiritual experience

The warrior of light

knows that intuition is God’s alphabet

and so he continues listening to the wind

and talking to the stars”. – Paulo Coelho

I liked The Achemist but there is nothing more masturbatory, more pseudo-intellectual or more disingenuous than a good Paulo Coelho quote.

What happens is that in trying to create this grand self-narrative, people ignore the reality of their senses and the life that’s right there next to them. What they end up creating is a simulacrum, an inferior, false world that only they inhabit. It’s sad too because it feels like you’re doing something special. There’s a reason all those quotes blurred together, because it’s not special. It is a joke.

Delusion doesn’t inspire me. Neither does the same recycled fortune cookie philosophy posted around by people who’ve yet to stop and think: Does sticking feathers up my butt really make me a chicken?

The reality of it all is less lofty but tangible and achievable and honest. Do what you enjoy and be a good person. It’s not that hard, most people won’t notice and that means you’re doing it right.

A Choice

September 15, 2008 — 15 Comments

Is this the person you want to be? Or do you want to be humble and credible and self-aware?


What I’m Reading

September 12, 2008 — 3 Comments

Radical Reconstruction by Lebbeus Woods (this book is stunning and mind-blowing way of looking at architecture. his ideas for rebuilding Kosovo seem…human but aspirational at the same time. Great NYT article on Lebbeus)

Built for Show: Four Body-Changing Workouts for Looking Good Enough to Hook Up by Nate Green (first book I’ve been asked to blurb)

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet by Daniel J. Solove (decent, mainly cliche anecdotes)

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

How Judges Think by Richard Posner (frankly, this book was disappointing. i put it in my strategy section because it ultimately had a few redeeming parts)

Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel (Kimmel was the only gender sociologist i remembered respecting in college – decent so far, like a male Unhooked. )

Five Ways to Use Social Media to Reach People Who Don’t Use Social Media (I can’t say enough how important the thinking behind this post is. I used it last week for something that ended up directly touching the mayor, a government agency and hopefully a few thousand employees who deserved some results)

Some ridiculous article about the illegal tiger trade

BBC: Cattle align North/South (proof that we have such a small understanding of even the most basic things)

Effects Based Operations

September 10, 2008 — 8 Comments

“Rarely is it effective advocacy to try to convince the judges that the case law compels them to rule in one’s favor. For if that were so, the case probably would not have have gotten to the appellate stage. The most effective method of arguing a case is to identify the purpose behind the relevant legal principle and then show how that purpose would be furthered by a decision in favor of [your] position.” How Judges Think, Richard A. Posner

The former and the latter ways of thinking are essentially the difference between people who ‘have it’ and the people who don’t. One understands The Commander’s Intent and the other is hapless and can’t be trusted with important tasks. One rightly understand that rules are just guidelines, flexible markers that can be used to accommodate change if only treated with the right amount of respect and acknowledgment. One thinks imaginatively and with a sense of creativity while the other is bogged down with entitlements and procedure.

It’s the first paradigm you have to break through when you finish school (Although you should have been doing it while you were there). Because really all people need from someone they’ve hired is the ability to tune them to their wavelength and have them function as an extension of that way of thinking.

It’s done exactly how Posner says is is. Not by thinking about the question at hand but by the factors that created the necessity of the question. That means figuring out what something boils down to, why, and ignoring the rest of the shit that people get hung up on.

Life is an effects based operation. And then means looking at things not as they are but what they’re intended to be. It means training yourself to look cross-eyed so you can that thing right below the surface, the thing that everyone else is missing.

Finals are ways getting students to attend class. Pitch meetings are about filling the distribution channels that must constantly be filled. A research assistant finds the dots for the writer to connect. Getting linked by other sites to do someone the favor of saying what they couldn’t quite say themselves – to fill their distribution channel. War, as Von Clausewitz wrote, is politics by other means.

You need to stop thinking about objectively what is wrong and what is right and more about objectives themselves. What are we trying to accomplish? What is the framework necessary to do that? If you can do it right, the results you hand to people should be pleasant surprises. A surprise because they didn’t ask for it, pleasant because it’s what they really wanted.

Ultimately, no one can train you do this but yourself. Once you get in the door, school doesn’t matter, only how well you understand the effects at hand. And before that is even possible you have to start thinking about what’s behind the things that have always been in front of you.