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.

Book Debate Pt II: American Psycho

September 8, 2008 — 7 Comments

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

American Psycho

“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.


September 5, 2008 — 6 Comments

Taleb, writes that hard work and planning gets you a Mercedes. Black Swans get you a private jet. What do you try to take from this? Humility in the face of things I can’t control. And to learn to be happy and content with the results of the parts I can.

What is the ‘classic’ book of the 80′s and 90s?

September 3, 2008 — 40 Comments

When I was in high school our reading list went something like this:

The Scarlet Letter (colonial America)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (slavery)

The Red Badge of Courage (sometimes for civil war)

The Jungle (turn of the century)

All Quiet on the Western Front (WWI)

The Great Gatsby (20′s)

Of Mice and Men (30s)

Catcher in the Rye (50′s and 60′s)

Fahrenheit 451 (Cold War)

And then if I remember correctly, it sort of dribbles off from there to miscellaneous short stories (The Things They Carried, etc) Yours might be a little different so plug in The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Crucible or Invisible Man as needed.

So what book will be required reading for the 80′s and 90′s? The qualifications being that it says something about those decades, not where it’s publication date happens to fall.

I’m almost positive that it will be American Pyscho or Fight Club and although most people disagree with me, none of them can suggest a decent alternative.

Update: Tyler Cowen picked it up which is awesome

People as a Proper Occupation

September 1, 2008 — 12 Comments

What would happen if you started being effusively pleasant to other people. You smiled. Said hello without provocation. Introduced yourself. Apologized or said excuse me. What if you tried to really empathize. Used explanation instead of authority. If you met the world more than halfway.

Ask this guy. He’s a totally different person. I don’t mean it condescendingly, it is profoundly inspiring.

Being a malcontent is like a disease. It eats at you. You stew and rage and bitch and whine and yell. It’s awful. Not that it doesn’t have it’s place, but it’s generally awful. And being the opposite – not just tolerating people but actively accepting and enjoying them – it’s like an injection into your life.

When psychologists force patients to contact facial muscles to emulate, say, happiness or anger, subjects report increased feelings of that actual emotion. In other words, your externalities can become your reality.

I’m not very good at it. But when I do it, it’s transformative.