Is this the person you want to be? Or do you want to be humble and credible and self-aware?
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)
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)
BBC: Cattle align North/South (proof that we have such a small understanding of even the most basic things)
“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.
So my ‘What book will they use to teach about the 80s and 90s?’ question ended up getting picked up by Marginal Revolution and then made in the LA Times Book Blog – who for some reason, linked to him but not me. (and was discussed here, here and here.
The more I think about itAmerican Psycho is the only choice that works. Although the movie sucks and Patrick Bateman has sort of been embraced by exactly the sort of people that Ellis is criticizing, it has the one thing that all the other books have in common: a moral stance on the decades in question.
“I am weeping for myself, unable to find solace in any of this, crying out, sobbing “I just want to be loved,” cursing the earth and everything I have been taught: principles, distinctions, choices, morals, compromises, knowledge, unity prayer–all of it was wrong, without any final purpose. All it came down to was: die or adapt. I imagine my own vacant face, the disembodied voice coming from its mouth: These are terrible times.”
Bret Easton Ellis
“Ellis is, first and last, a moralist. Under the cover of his laconic voice, every word in his novels springs from grieving outrage at our spiritual condition.” – Los Angeles Times Book Review
I’m not sure there is a better choice in fiction than Ellis.