Links for 2005-03-01

8 replies on “Links for 2005-03-01”

Bravo Halle Berry.
The Podcasting thing is akin to the ‘elevator pitch’ we try and get for our products. If you can’t sum it up in less than 20 secs you don’t understand it.
And I SO need a Mac. That jewelbox thingy looks rather great – ideal for a pub for a record store.
And last but not least – that Banksy art is dazzling.

Just out of curiosity, have read all of 48 Laws of Power? It is not intended to be a guide to life, though it is presented that way. It is a presentation of different power accumulation and preservation techniques supplemented with historical anecdotes. The value of each “law” is discussed in different situations, and the book can be serious, humorous, and at times a parody. It is a frank discussion of human nature.
If you don’t understand at least a few of the points it contains, you will never be able to create your dreams or change the world. How is minding the insecurities of your boss and colleagues dishonorable? Should you really tell John that he is a miserable waste of company resources who annoys you to no end if you cannot fire him? Should you tell him that even if you could fire him? No. It might be the truth, but it is stupid to throw emotional hand grenades in an office you don’t control, and burning bridges is never a good idea. That’s what the book covers — those little common sense things that we sometimes forget.
Power is not a bad thing — you can use it to make the world a just and more equitable place; it lets you shape reality. You don’t have to use every technique and principle the book presents if they offend your moral sensibilities, but you might benefit from understanding said techniques if you are engaged in a power struggle with an enemy who is prepared to use them.

Jeff, I have read them, and found them profoundly disturbing and pretty much antithetical to any way I understand of operating within the world. Of course there are tactical ways of operating in the world, but I see absolutely nothing in that piece that’s demonstrates any ideological motivation for taking this approach other than blind self interest. You can be tactical and a decent human being that doesn’t treat other people like chattel or exploitable scum. This is a profoundly political piece, with an understanding of how people operate in the world that is not absolute.
For example rather than arguing, “Never Outshine the Master” why not propose that you aspire to work for people you can respect. What possible rationale could there be for getting other people to do the work for you and then take the credit? Why not take instead an appropriate share of the credit – ie. as the motivating or organising party. Who benefits from keeping other people dependent upon you? A company or organisation that operated like that for any period of time would simply fail, because if any given person left then the whole place would reel from it. Everyone benefits from shared expertise, and if you truly are as good as you believe you are then there will always be other places that can take advantage of your skill set and people who can recognise how you’ve transformed a culture. The rule itself might as well have read, “Let your insecurities restrict others”.
It goes on – why be selectively honest and generous when you could be honest whenever possible and generous when it feels like a positive thing to do. Rather than ‘crushing your enemy totally’, why not give them ways to save face when you’ve won an argument against them. That way the sting of defeat is removed, you’ve not purposefully humiliated another human being, and you still get to do the right thing. Not committing to anyone – wouldn’t a better way of putting that be to not blindly take sides, but make clear your position and be prepared to engage in discussion with all parties.
Reading this document through again, the overwhelming impression I get from it is that the first a priori assumption is that you’re not very good at your job. There’s no other reason to be so blindingly insecure as to feel you have to prop up your position at all costs against anyone and to treat everyone else as enemies. If that’s how you genuinely feel in your work, then maybe you should consider working elsewhere, rather than becoming some kind of sociopathic monster who rationalises his decision by tarring everyone else in the world with the same brush.

First, I would point out that the document you linked to is a somewhat humorous summary of the ìlawsî. The book consists of 400 pages of analysis, and this is what I wondered if you had read (ISBN 0-670-88146-5). Anyone who read only the summary would come to the same conclusion as you.
There is nothing wrong with aspiring to work for people you can respect, but that is not always possible, and if you have financial obligations that would cause you great distress if you offend your boss, you might have to learn to deal with him on his terms. You are correct to note that not all of the ideas are good for organizations, and it would be fair to say that the book is targeted toward individual advancement. For example you ask, ìWhat possible rationale could there be for getting other people to do the work for you and then take the credit?î There are many reasons if your sole goal is personal advancement, and you can find modern parallels in politics and in the way some large companies relate to open source. However, if you read the book, you would find that most of the discussion centers on the need to protect yourself from these creative vultures if you want to advance in your career, and it discusses the drawbacks to each approach in a section called ìReversals.î
Being honest whenever possible is the same as being selectively honest, and ìCrush Your Enemy Totallyî contains a rather severe reversal warning and is followed by its polar opposites in ìWork on the Hearts and Minds of Othersî and ìIn Victory, Learn When to Stop.î I would stress that book presents each of these laws as techniques that are available to you. Some of them are nasty and selfish, and others are not. However, if you do not understand how the nasty and selfish ones work, you canít defend against them. When Greene and Elffers wrote the book, they wanted to have a fun way to present the discussion, so they created this format. It often reads like a handbook for Dr. Evil, but that makes it entertaining and it helps you consider both the positive and negative aspects of each rule. Overall, the book is Machiavellian in outlook, and I agree that this sometimes creates problems when viewed from a traditional moral position. That alone, though, does not justify condemning the book, as it retains intellectual value by imparting knowledge of Machiavellian tactics, and you must understand a strategy to be able to guard against it.
It might disturb you, but the book is required reading in several humanities courses at a number of American universities.

Another ‘yes vote’ for Jewelbox – I run my iBook through my TV for playing music (my stereo is too far away) and now I have a visual on my screen as well as audio coming out the speakers.
It does ‘lag’ sometimes when I switch to fullscreen mode but that’s the only bad thing I’ve experienced so far.

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