Finally got around to reading Elizabeth Sandifer’s essay and if there was any doubt, this makes it clear how much of an unserious and malicious person Scott Alexander/Siskind is. Siskind’s writing deliberately pretends to be respectable to provide ideological cover to some real evil.
An amazing read about the first solo unsupported around the world sailing event and the maintenance that goes into doing something like that.
Highlights for Amp It Up
What you need on day one is to ratchet up expectations, energy, urgency, and intensity.
You can engulf your organization with energy, step up the tempo, and start executing the basic blocking and tackling with a lot more focus and higher expectations. It will feel like busting a log jam. All of a sudden, everything is moving and shaking.
Don’t let malaise set in. Bust it up. Raising the bar is energizing by itself.
MBO causes employees to act as if they are running their own show. Because they get compensated on their personal metrics, it’s next to impossible to pull them off projects. They will start negotiating with you for relief. That’s not alignment, that’s every man for himself.
The questions you should ask constantly: What are we not going to do? What are the consequences of not doing something? Get in the habit of constantly prioritizing and reprioritizing.
I always operated as if I owned everything, whether I did or not. That didn’t always sit well with peers or superiors. I have since always tried to increase our people’s sense of ownership so they will act as owners. That mentality needs to be nurtured.
We coped in ways I have used ever since: hire people ahead of their own curve. Hire more for aptitude than experience and give people the career opportunity of a lifetime.
We still say, “Architecture matters” at Snowflake; all of our successes at the three companies where I’ve been CEO trace back to superior architecture.
Underperforming tech assets seemed to follow me around like a bad habit.
I had to explain that there is no such thing as an override for CEOs. I said, “You can go to the board and see if they’d like to fire me and give you your old job back. In the meantime, we are doing as I outlined.”
There are times you need to check your own views at the door and bet on the conviction of others.
Today I am less driven by career ambition than by a hunger for sport, action, excitement, teamwork, and a never‐ending pursuit of self‐improvement.
When you take over a company with a wide range of issues, you have to start solving the more straightforward problems as fast as possible so you can narrow the focus on the harder ones. Bringing in some proven performers was a no‐brainer.
As I got more experience, I realized that I was often just wasting everybody’s time. If we knew that something or someone wasn’t working, why wait? As the saying goes, when there is doubt, there is no doubt.
For a more recent example, remember that when the Coronavirus pandemic first hit the US, lockdowns were described as a short‐term strategy to stop the contagion from overwhelming our healthcare system. But before long, lockdowns became the designated method to control the pandemic indefinitely, dragging on in many states for well over a year. Pandemic responses began to seem like a “make it up as we go along” approach to policy, completely untethered from any clear mission.
Not that there’s anything wrong with financial metrics or showing progress to investors or shareholders. I take those targets very seriously, but they are never our mission.
Investors and executives take huge risks on start‐ups that need to be rewarded when a company is successful.
Urgency is a mindset that can be learned if it doesn’t come to you naturally. You can embrace the discomfort that comes with moving faster instead of avoiding it.
Only the government can print money; the rest of us have to take it from somebody else.
The more high‐achieving people who desert their current employers to join us, the more we are winning.
As long as there are no new challengers with new ideas, you can do fine with an incremental approach. But in free markets, somebody is always thinking about dramatic changes. You’re much better off doing so yourself rather than hoping it won’t happen.
Folks prefer narratives that make them feel safe, however removed from reality those narratives might be. Intellectual honesty is a frequent casualty in business.
If you don’t know how to execute, every strategy will fail, even the most promising ones.
One of my favorite observations is that “good judgment comes from bad judgment.” Experience may be overrated by some, but it’s hard to find a substitute for it.
When we promote inexperienced managers to senior roles, chaos ensues. It becomes the blind leading the blind. Organizations cannot scale and mature around inexperienced management staff.
We sometimes use the expression “that dog won’t hunt”—not in reference to a person but to a strategic approach that just isn’t working, no matter what we do. It’s hard to say that if you’re irrationally attached to a strategy.
A strong product will generate escape velocity and find its market, even with a mediocre sales team. But even a great sales team cannot fix or compensate for product problems.
You should resist this temptation by remembering an old joke: “Consultants are people who borrow your watch, tell you what time it is, and then keep the watch.”
The bottom line is that great execution can make a moderately successful strategy go a long way, but poor execution will fail even the most brilliant strategy.
Hire Drivers, Not Passengers, and Get the Wrong People off the Bus
Passengers are largely dead weight and can be an insidious threat to your culture and performance. They inadvertently undermine the mojo of the organization. They sap the animal instinct and spirits you need in business to thrive.
“How do I know if I’m a driver or a passenger?” My flippant answer was that he’d better figure it out before I did.
Don’t surrender to the temptation to go into wait‐and‐see mode, hoping that time will reveal everyone’s true value. You need to make things happen, not wait around and hope for the best. You have to practice sizing up people and situations with limited and imperfect information—because that is all you are ever going to get.
If you don’t act quickly to get the wrong people off the bus, you have no prayer of changing the overall trajectory. We often believe, naively, that we can coach struggling teammates to a better place. And sometimes we can, but those cases are rarer than we imagine. At a struggling company, you need to change things fast, which can only happen by switching out the people whose skills no longer fit the mission or perhaps never really did in the first place.
those standards, that’s fine too. I know this philosophy may come across as harsh. But what’s even harsher is not doing the job you were hired to do as a leader. If you can’t find the backbone to make necessary changes, you are holding everyone else back from reaching their full potential.
Then I started moving faster to replace people who were badly suited for their roles. And often not even catastrophically bad, just worse than the caliber of people we knew we could hire to replace them. This process of systematically upgrading the talent at each key role is called “topgrading,” a strategy developed by hiring expert Brad Smart.
You can’t wait till you have an acute need; that is a reactive posture. If you wait for a vacancy to open, you can only tap the then‐current supply, which may be quite suboptimal. So create a vetted, prioritized list of possible candidates for each critical role you are responsible for.
The problem is that people don’t learn from posters. Like children and pets, they learn from consequences and the lack thereof. If you want to drive a more consistent set of behaviors, norms, and values, you have to focus on consistent and clearly defined consequences, day in and day out.
Accountability is uncomfortable because we all live with the anxiety of not being good enough and the anxiety of telling others they aren’t good enough. But if you want a great company, you can’t give out free passes for mediocrity. Good enough is never good enough.
Culture doesn’t just happen because of a CEO’s declaration or because senior management exhibits the willingness to act on core values. It happens when most of the organization is willing to defend and promote those values and call out deviations on a day‐to‐day basis.
The paradox is that any business that’s large enough to have functional silos must pull together as if these organizational delineations barely exist.
My role as CEO is to facilitate their initiative and encourage them to reach creative solutions, not simply to tell them what to do. Everyone gets a seat at the table as we hash out challenging issues.
I am generally not a fan of just trying things, throwing ideas against the wall to see if they stick. We lose time and waste resources that way. Let’s try a rifle shot instead of a scatter gun.
Customer grievances are best solved by establishing proper ownership, reducing internal complexity, and removing bureaucratic intermediaries.
Good sales managers are constantly hiring and firing, which helps them develop a clear sense of which candidates are likely to become gunslingers.
Never simply throw them into stone‐cold territories without a viable plan or support. That’s setting them up for failure, which will lead not only to their own failures but to your reputation as a leader who breeds failure.
I have often distinguished between actual profitability and what we call “inherent profitability.”
The question is what would profitability look like if we substantially stopped investing for future periods altogether? Inherent profitability is driven by unit economics, or the gross margin line in the profit and loss statement. If things cost more than what we sell them for, the business will obviously never become profitable. The next question is how operating efficiency will benefit from increased scale. Those answers help us understand what the inherent profitability of the business really is.
So they play it safe. But trying to hang on to a modest business doesn’t mean you have a viable business.
How can I possibly answer those questions for someone else’s business? The answers are relative and situational.
If possible, always own your distribution rather than delegate it to a third party. Nobody cares about selling your product more than you.
It takes intellectual honesty and humility to admit how big a confluence of factors gave rise to your original success. Just because you struck gold once doesn’t mean you know how to do it at will.
I know I said earlier that growth should be prioritized over profitability, but when it costs much more than a dollar to generate a dollar, you don’t really have a business.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have strong financial oversight and discipline on sales compensation. You may be tempted at some point to make your comp plans more generous to recruit and retain top sales talent, but abandoning financial rigor can be a fatal mistake—not just during the planning stages of each year but every day, literally from one sales deal to the next.
But the most valuable leaders are those who can combine the scrappiness of a start‐up leader with the organizational and diplomatic discipline needed in a big company. Those who can scale up or scale down as required. Those who can set aside their experience when necessary, apply first principles, and think through situations in their elementary form.
When a truly new market does appear, it’s usually due to a confluence of industry‐wide factors and circumstances, not the innovations of just one company.
The issues we faced in scope, expansion, and runway now preoccupy my thinking. As a leader, you need to make time to assess these issues from day one; don’t wait for the crush of urgent business to calm down.
Having a bunch of roles on your resume without clear success at each one can become a strike against you. You start to look like a passenger, not a driver.
Start‐ups typically need hard drivers, passionate leaders, goal‐oriented and achievement‐focused personalities—the kind of people who are easily frustrated in larger, more rigid, slower to evolve enterprises. We often liked people with a chip on their shoulder, who had a lot to prove to themselves and others. But it is easy to see how others would be less enamored by such personalities.
The longest‐serving employees tend to be the most prone to nostalgia, constantly reliving the romance of the early days. Those days always seem better in retrospect than they did at the time.
Dan Warmenhoven, the highly successful CEO of NetApp, once remarked that every great CEO has a large ego because you simply could not do this kind of work any other way—but if you can’t keep that ego in check, you’ll be insufferable and therefore ineffective. That’s an uneasy balance.
Even so, continue to share credit as much as possible with the founders. Never lose sight of the fact that success takes a village, and the founders are still honorary members of the village.
Conceding the board’s authority for every major decision isn’t playing it safe. In fact, in the long run it’s much riskier than asserting your own authority and legitimacy and taking responsibility for your own decisions.
You’re not there to make friends or get a gold star for obeying orders; you are there to win.
Apply those experiences, and the insights we’ve discussed in previous chapters, to become a truer, more honed, more effective version of who you already are. Finding your own path, however long it takes, will unlock your personal power.
At the end of the day, great leaders at any level have great outcomes. You can be the most empathetic, charismatic, and popular leader ever, but none of that will matter if your business falls short. And when it does, there will be nowhere for you to hide. No one will care about your legitimate explanations, let alone your excuses. No one will care about the unlucky breaks that were completely beyond your control. Is that fair? Of course not! But it’s the world we live in, the world we have to accept as leaders.
A useful distinction between “code proofreading” and “code editing” by Hillel Wayne both of which are part of a standard PR process but neither is really a good fit there.
Highlights for Rise
You need to use your time differently. You need to rise above the work. You need to figure out how to make yourself less busy with your current workload to make room to do higher-value work. No one will do this for you.
She was trying to teach her team this lesson: you can’t work yourself to death and succeed over the long term. It was a hard cultural challenge, because her team believed that this overwork was not only highly valued by the company, but demanded.
You don’t win the game for running up and down the court; it’s the points on the board that count.
But if they are successful, the other thing that you will notice is that they have a ruthless focus on the things they care about. It may seem that they are not doing a good job—but maybe that is just on the part that you are looking at. You need to understand: what else are they doing?
Welcome to being a leader. This is your job. Your job is not to deliver work when everything lines up to support you. Your job is to get the most important stuff done despite everything that lines up to kill you.
I know that what I wanted from my staff was for them to catch all the work, analyze it, make judgments about business priorities, and come back to me and negotiate. I wanted them to debate with me about what is most important and why and suggest how to rework the plan to do the most important things first.
This is how you keep your boss from continuing to pile things on. Get him on the hook for the same critical business outcomes—your Ruthless Priorities.
Yes, you need to find a way to succeed if your boss is being stupid, but if your plan requires you to win against your boss, you will lose, even if you are right.
If you’re tempted to work on everything because it feels less risky, just realize that you will remain unremarkable because you have not given yourself the opportunity to really excel on something that has a big impact on the business.
Only when you are mind-numbingly bored with talking about your Ruthless Priorities will your organization really know you are serious and feel confident about acting on them.
Getting big things done is so powerful that you will get smarter as you do it. Getting things done helps you see around corners. You learn, because you can actually test the reality of the impact of what you got done.
But you must focus. If you don’t, you will work very hard but fail to deliver significant business outcomes. So you will fail. This is one of those lonely leadership moments. All leaders face this. The most successful ones get on top of it. They rise above the work.
It’s critical to recognize that your job as a leader is to collect and respond to all of the requests that come from above, but not to try to actually do them all. You are expected to tune the workload, to change the game, to figure out better ways to do things.
If your executive management could figure out which of the things, in all of this work they assign to you, were truly critical to the business, they wouldn’t need you. That’s your job.
It is a core trait of the most successful people to rise above being overbusy. If there are any secrets to what really successful people do, this is one of them. They make more time.
When communications are not clear, the number of questions and individual conversations rises exponentially. Be really clear about decisions, priorities, and issues, and find a communication mechanism to distribute the information. You will increase the capacity of your team greatly if you simply communicate better.
If you are good at fixing things or just can’t stand unanswered questions, open loops, or disorganize data, get over it. You can’t fix everything, and most of it doesn’t matter anyway.
Make three lists on one sheet of paper, in three columns. In the first column, list the things on your to-do list that you are actually getting done. In the second column, list things that you have committed to get done to your boss or your customers or your peers or your team—but are not getting done. In the third column, list the things that you know are really important, but that you have no chance in hell of being able to do because of the existence of the first two lists.
Having more energy multiplies your time. You don’t just work faster; you take on things you wouldn’t otherwise. You solve bigger problems and pursue bigger challenges. You have more to give to others. You help your team and your peers more. You have more confidence and make better decisions.
Do things on purpose that help you recover your energy, but don’t give yourself too hard a time for being in a slump along the way. If you keep moving forward in your life and your work, even if you are not at your most brilliant, the slump will eventually pass.
Once you realize that your job is both your job description and dealing with all the crap that gets in the way of your doing your job description, and that what you are actually getting paid for is dealing with the crap, not the enjoyable parts, it all makes more sense.
The first and biggest hazard of taking your strengths for granted is that you waste too much time trying to fix your weaknesses. As humans we tend to focus on the things we are not good at. I don’t believe in investing in fixing weaknesses. It is a waste of time and energy, especially compared to building on strengths.
They decided it was important to thrive. They redefined the terms under which they were willing to work. They stopped trying to do their job as it was defined for them, focused on what they were really good at, and worked with other people to cover the areas they were not good at.
Leaders emerge because they are seen to get the work done through their leadership, not by their personal effort.
When you are a workhorse, people value you for your work output; they don’t value you. They don’t care how hard you work; they only care that the work gets done. Your company can absorb an unlimited amount of work from you.
It’s about figuring out how to do things better when the world and budgets are set against you
If you don’t enable and allow your team to make you bigger, you shouldn’t have a team.
if, as a leader, you are not sure what to do, talk to everybody.
Build a plan to drive the overall strategy for your team and its contribution to the business. Look for game-changing opportunities. Clarify Ruthless Priorities. Tune everyone’s workload to ensure that they deliver on the most important things. Ensure that there is strategic alignment of your team, peers, and boss with priorities and values. Assess your organization’s fitness for what it needs to do, and make changes, train, and/or upgrade talent where necessary. Create systems and frameworks to execute, track, and measure the work so you can feel comfortable that you know what is getting done without diving into the details. See also chapter 7, Delegate or Die. Create a specific learning agenda for your team, such as understanding the financial realities of the business, getting closer to customers, or competitive awareness and positioning. Develop talent. Help your team become better leaders and support them. Focus on the development of their top talent. Improve communication inside and outside your organization. Find ways to steadily reduce the cost of things you do every year to make room for new things. See also chapter 8, Better with Less. Continually make connections outside your direct organization to create positive visibility for your team and create a broader base of support.
You need to be prepared emotionally for not being the expert any more and for finding your value elsewhere. You need to earn your team’s respect with your leadership skills, not by trying to stay as smart as they are on the detail.
Don’t think of delegating as just giving work to other people; think about it as making sure the highest-value work gets done at the right levels.
Let some important stuff go undone, or get done poorly, so you make it clear that you really need the hire.
Always think of delegating as a teaching opportunity. Remember, delegating is about taking responsibility to ensure that the highest-value work gets done at the right levels. It is about pulling your people up and making them more capable.
You may be more comfortable with the deliverables, but you are completely cutting off the possibility that, with your encouragement and support, they could become even better at it than you. In fact, you are limiting them to never being any better at it than you.
If you overmanage people, they will not be motivated to excel; they will just be motivated to get you off their back.
As a leader it is your job to cut the cost of doing the same stuff year over year—full stop.
Dealing with shrinking budgets and increased responsibility is a way of life. As a leader you can’t let that prevent you from raising the bar and driving higher-value business outcomes each year. No one will help you with this. Your team will get annoyed that they have less money to do the same stuff. It’s up to you to lead.
A high-trust environment is a fast, competitive environment. A low-trust environment is a slow, dysfunctional environment.
If you try to avoid all negative discussion or always put a positive spin on everything, you will be seen as clueless by your people who are experiencing the reality. That will destroy trust. If you acknowledge difficult issues, then get your team focused on what they can do during times of uncertainty, you will build trust.
You must get comfortable with differentiating. Treating everyone equally is not fair to your high performers.
Do this now. With each of your reports, say the following: “As your manager I am going to worry about what matters to you. When I worry about you, what should I worry about?”
But it is imperative that you have a “What happened? This is unacceptable. What are you going to do about it?” conversation. Although these are not fun, comfortable conversations, if you avoid them, you are degrading trust.
Good work does not stand on its own. Delivering results alone does not ensure you will get recognized and rewarded. It’s sad but true. You need to take it upon yourself to make your work visible and make it count.
You need to show that you can think like a general manager about the whole business and put the business first, at the center of your thinking and discussions.
Doing your job well, as defined, keeps you from getting fired. What makes you stand out is finding additional ways to add value to the business over and above what is in your job description. Otherwise, you are just one more person doing what is expected of them.
Bringing the external voice of the real world back into your business sets you up as highly credible because most people don’t bother.
Being inconsistently good just pisses people off. It creates a high expectation and then a big letdown.
When you observe me at work or life, what is always true? What do you always see? What is my manner of communicating? What do I “look like” when I am delivering? What am I expert in? How do I relate to others at work: What do I give? What do I expect? How do my personality and values affect what I offer? What outcomes do you associate with my being involved in something?
By focusing on her brand, she gave herself the opportunity to sell her strengths without hesitation.
If you operate in your own department most of the time and don’t have personal relationships or functional reasons to talk to your boss’s boss, your boss’s peers, and leaders of other organizations, you can consider yourself invisible. And you can consider yourself stuck.
When the executives talk about who is the best, the people whose names are known (even if nothing else is known about them) come out way ahead of the more-talented people whose names are not known.
You can be doing a fantastic job, but if some of your key stakeholders either don’t know about it or have an incorrect, not-that-impressed perception of your work, it can be a huge block to your success and your ability to get promotions and resources for your team members or approval for projects you care about.
If you are remote, it is up to you to not disappear.
Are you being clear, succinct, and compelling? Have you tuned the presentation to be highly relevant to each audience? Do you get to the point? Are you sure you are not boring? Have you made sure you won’t be tempted to go on and on about details? Do you show strong personal presence? Do you show confidence rather than defensiveness? Can you deal with disagreements and attacks and not get drawn off track? Can you field questions succinctly and not get nervous? Can you continue to be succinct and not babble on and on when you get drawn off topic? Can you regain control of the conversation?
For example, don’t talk about needing data on something. Ask questions like, “What decisions will you be making based on this data?” or “What action do you need this data to inform?”
You first need to get yourself there. Once you are there, learn really fast, do the job, and get more comfortable and confident as you go. Then leap again.
The world is not waiting for you to check all the boxes; they are merely watching to see if you’ll step up. The ones who step up and go for things are the ones who get them. The ones who are fearless get there faster.
Any executive is much stronger after having spent significant time with customers where the business really happens. Spending time in sales changes your perspective forever, for the better.
This is one of the reasons it is so important to make more time, as we talked about in chapter 3. If you are completely consumed by your current job, you will not have any time or energy to do the things you need to do to get a better or bigger one.
You are already committed to your day job. Your extra work that you volunteer for should serve your personal purpose to get ahead.
A key test of executive presence is to look like you are doing your job with ease and grace. Even if behind the scenes it is chaos, what people should see is you being calm and in control.
The bigger the role, the broader your influence needs to be. As a top executive your impact needs to be on a much broader and more external stage. You need to prove that you know how to impact business growth and transformation internally and externally in a big way, if you want a big job.
However, building your career and letting your life go to hell does not work either. The trick is, if you want to do better at either work or life, you need to get better at both.
Your company wants you to have a good life that you enjoy. They know they will get more out of you at work if you are happy outside of work.
Anything north of half a million a year is the hazard pay for the company acting like it owns you, letting you know your time is not your own, and finding seemingly laser-targeted ways to torture you.
If you have a toxic or useless boss who is damaging you and your career, you need to get out. It’s not worth your time, your health, or the money that lured you into this in the first place.
Bluffing is just another example of why being an executive takes a fair amount of guts, and you need to be OK with the fact that from time to time you are going to be scared and way out of your comfort zone. That is a requirement of the job—get comfortable with it.
As long as you demand rigorous accountability to the business and measure and manage performance accordingly, you can be nice to people.
Along these lines, I often get asked whether you can or should be friends with a boss or employee. Yes, you can be friends, as long as the friendship does not keep you from being tough on accountability and results in the business. If you are the kind of person who can keep those separate, friends at work are fine. But if you end up holding your friends less accountable, or not imposing consequences because they are friends, and this makes you uncomfortable, then don’t make friends with employees. If you don’t seriously manage performance with employees who are friends, everyone will see that you are letting your friend get away with things. You will squander huge amounts of trust. People will accept your friendships as long as they see you being fair.
I am a firm believer that growing businesses come from growing people, and to be highly successful, you need to make the people supporting you successful too.
Highlights for Thinking in Bets
The punch line of the John Hennigan–Des Moines story—“after two days, he begged to get out of it”—made it part of gambling folklore.
Everything is a bet.
Most people aren’t like poker players, around whom there is always the potential that someone might propose a bet and they will mean it.
Such interactions are reminders that not all situations are appropriate for truthseeking, nor are all people interested in the pursuit.
In the movie, the matrix was built to be a more comfortable version of the world. Our brains, likewise, have evolved to make our version of the world more comfortable: our beliefs are nearly always correct; favorable outcomes are the result of our skill; there are plausible reasons why unfavorable outcomes are beyond our control; and we compare favorably with our peers. We deny or at least dilute the most painful parts of the message.
In fact, as long as there are three people in the group (two to disagree and one to referee*), the truthseeking group can be stable and productive.
“a pretty good blueprint for a truthseeking charter:
- A focus on accuracy (over confirmation), which includes rewarding truthseeking, objectivity, and open-mindedness within the group;
- Accountability, for which members have advance notice; and
- Openness to a diversity of ideas.”
In three sentences, he laid out all the elements of a productive group charter. “I don’t want to hear it. I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, but if you have a question about a hand, you can ask me about strategy all day long. I just don’t think there’s much purpose in a poker story if the point is about something you had no control over, like bad luck.”
We should also recognize that it’s really hard: the norm is toward homogeneity; we’re all guilty of it; and we don’t even notice that we’re doing it.
Coming from a community composed almost entirely of liberal-leaning scientists, the quality and impact of research can suffer.
Liberals would do well to take some time to read and watch more conservative news sources, and conservatives would do well to take some time to read and watch more liberal news sources—not with the goal of confirming that the other side is a collection of idiots who have nothing of value to say but to specifically and purposely find things they agree with.
Anyone can provide the narrative only up to the point of the decision under consideration, leaving off the outcome so as not to infect their listeners with bias.
The way we field outcomes is path dependent. It doesn’t so much matter where we end up as how we got there. What has happened in the recent past drives our emotional response much more than how we are doing overall. That’s how we can win $100 and be sad, and lose $100 and be happy. The zoom lens doesn’t just magnify, it distorts.
At the very beginning of my poker career, I heard an aphorism from some of the legends of the profession: “It’s all just one long poker game.”
Remember, the likelihood of positive and negative futures must add up to 100%. The positive space of backcasting and the negative space of a premortem still have to fit in a finite amount of space.
Out with Bungacast and their tankie/nutter agenda
Several online situations today where I think I’m going insane so I might as well document them.
I listened to the last episode of Bungacast with the authors of the new book “The Covid Consensus”.
Both the book and the episode are highly questionable. There is little more there than pandering to the COVID sceptic horseshoe left by fishing in the murky pond of anti-authoritarianism, pseudo-science and neoreaction.
Now I wouldn’t think it weird that COVID nutters would write a book. What is odd is that Bungacast would give that much prominence to something which is obviously dumb. Not sure if it’s a cynical play on the alternative/controversial left or whether the podcasters truly believe this way of looking at the world has any merit. In any case, for me this is Schluß with this particular pod.
A while back I had listened to an episode of Politics Theory Other which has long been a favorite podcast of mine where Richard Seymour utterly demolishes that very same book. PTO is actually serious, actually left, actually critical and very much recommended.
That episode is well worth a (re)listen and I’m now a fan of Richard Seymour who comes in like a sledgehammer.
If I lift this one level, the so called “Lockdown” is being used as a scapegoat for anything and everything that people don’t like. Here in Europe the lockdowns felt very long but were brief in retrospect. The longest probably being the 3 month school/daycare closure at the start of the pandemic during which we also suffered immensely. Real hard lockdowns happened in a country like China. Claiming that the relatively mild restrictions that we had for a couple of months (and then twice more) created irreparable damage in the general population is very fucking rich.
They may be right about Lockdown in one way that the concept of it has become big enough and detached from reality enough to house whatever theories or madness anybody wants to house in it. As such, lockdown was a huge psychohistoric event.
Highlights for Domain Driven Design
Good programmers will naturally start to abstract and develop a model that can do more work. But when this happens only in a technical setting, without collaboration with domain experts, the concepts are naive. That shallowness of knowledge produces software that does a basic job but lacks a deep connection to the domain expert’s way of thinking.
And with typical design approaches, the code and documents don’t express this hard-earned knowledge in a usable form, so when the oral tradition is interrupted for any reason, the knowledge is lost.
Use the model as the backbone of a language. Commit the team to exercising that language relentlessly in all communication within the team and in the code. Use the same language in diagrams, writing, and especially speech.
Object-oriented programming is powerful because it is based on a modeling paradigm, and it provides implementations of the model constructs.
If the people who write the code do not feel responsible for the model, or don’t understand how to make the model work for an application, then the model has nothing to do with the software. If developers don’t realize that changing code changes the model, then their refactoring will weaken the model rather than strengthen it.
But it is the crucial separation of the domain layer that enables MODEL-DRIVEN DESIGN.
Even deficiencies in requirements analysis can be overcome by releasing a prototype to users and then quickly changing the product to fit their requests.
Most flexible languages (such as Java) are overkill for these applications and will cost dearly. A 4GL-style tool is the way to go.
For example, a one-to-many association might be implemented as a collection in an instance variable. But the design is not necessarily so direct. There may be no collection; an accessor method may query a database to find the appropriate records and instantiate objects based on them. Both of these designs would reflect the same model.
Worse, as client code uses the database directly, developers are tempted to bypass model features such as AGGREGATES, or even object encapsulation, instead directly taking and manipulating the data they need.
The sheer technical complexity of applying most database access infrastructure quickly swamps the client code, which leads developers to dumb down the domain layer, which makes the model irrelevant.
You may find that the framework provides services you can use to easily create a REPOSITORY, or you may find that the framework fights you all the way. You may discover that the architectural framework has already defined an equivalent pattern of getting persistent objects. Or you may discover that it has defined a pattern that is not like a REPOSITORY at all.
A MODEL-DRIVEN DESIGN stands on two legs. A deep model makes possible an expressive design. At the same time, a design can actually feed insight into the model discovery process when it has the flexibility to let a developer experiment and the clarity to show a developer what is happening.
But moving the rules out of the domain layer is even worse, since the domain code no longer expresses the model.
Here we have an example of a “simplest thing that could possibly work” that actually becomes possible because of a more sophisticated model. We can have a functioning prototype of a very complex component in a couple dozen lines of easily understood code.
A lot of overengineering has been justified in the name of flexibility. But more often than not, excessive layers of abstraction and indirection get in the way. Look at the design of software that really empowers the people who handle it; you will usually see something simple.
If a developer must consider the implementation of a component in order to use it, the value of encapsulation is lost. If someone other than the original developer must infer the purpose of an object or operation based on its implementation, that new developer may infer a purpose that the operation or class fulfills only by chance. If that was not the intent, the code may work for the moment, but the conceptual basis of the design will have been corrupted, and the two developers will be working at cross-purposes.
I’m all in favor of learning advanced technology and design concepts, but we have to soberly assess the skills of a particular team, as well as the likely skills of future maintenance teams.
If you wait until you can make a complete justification for a change, you’ve waited too long. Your project is already incurring heavy costs, and the postponed changes will be harder to make because the target code will have been more elaborated and more embedded in other code.
Sometimes we overestimate the value or underestimate the cost of such a dependency.
Declare a BOUNDED CONTEXT to have no connection to the others at all, allowing developers to find simple, specialized solutions within this small scope.
Once they have been separated, give their continuing development lower priority than the CORE DOMAIN, and avoid assigning your core developers to the tasks (because they will gain little domain knowledge from them). Also consider off-the-shelf solutions or published models for these GENERIC SUBDOMAINS.
Not knowing what would be needed, it was assumed that it should be flexible enough to handle anything.
He had dutifully set out to build a time zone model a priori.
Reuse does happen, but not always code reuse. The model reuse is often a better level of reuse, as when you use a published design or model.
A team that uses the code as the sole repository of the model might use comments, maybe structured as Java Doc, or might use some tool in its development environment.
People knew roughly where to look for a particular function. Individuals working independently could make design decisions that were broadly consistent with each other. The complexity ceiling had been lifted.
Highlights for Bizim Büyük Çaresizliğimiz
Beş el vardı direksiyonda, babanın iki eli, Nevzat Amca’nın iki eli ve gören görür, ölümün eli…
“Azrail’in piyangosu annenle babana vurdu Nihal!”
Daha doğrusu ikimiz de birbirimizin “âşık” halinden pek hoşlanmamıştık.
Sonra sustum. Çok konuşunca olan şey: Konuşmak, anlatmak, anlamsız gelmişti birdenbire. Belki de, katlanıp kaldırılması gereken şeyleri buruşturmuştum.
Nihal’i karnının üzerinde pençelerini ne zaman etine geçireceği belli olmayan yırtıcı bir hayvanla dolaşıyor gibi düşünmüştüm.
Görüyorsun değil mi Çetin, üç buçuk yaşındaki çocuk bile kendi deneyiminden bir yasa çıkarıyor! Başka türlü nefes alınmaz. Başka türlü yaşanmaz. Başka türlü aşk olmaz. Yaptıklarımızı olumlayan yasalar buluyoruz; sanırım aklımız böyle işliyor: Buyurgan iç huzurumuzun boynu bükük kölesi olarak.
balkonda rakı sofrası kurmak
Bu başarısız öykü de, “Genç şair tekrar kalemine sarıldı.” cümlesiyle sona eriyor.
“Reşit, ömür denen şeyin tedricen yaşanmadığını söylerdi. Gerçekten öyle, her şey birdenbire oluyor. Küçük bir çocukken birdenbire, ilaçlarını plastik bir margarin kabında saklayan bir ihtiyar oluveriyorsun. Kendin için, çocukların için, ülken için güzel şeyler ümit ederken, seni biçimlendiren şeyin güzel bir gelecek hayali olduğunu düşünürken, birdenbire kaderinin, güne ayak uyduramamak, gençliğini, geçmişini özlemek ve hızla dönen dünya tarafından hep kenara savrulmak olduğunu görüyorsun.”
Ama siyasetle ilgilenmemişti, çünkü Reşit Bey’e göre, insanlar birbirlerinden ve tarihten bir şey öğrenmiyor, basit güdülerle hareket ediyordu. Bu yüzden siyasetin yapacağı, başaracağı bir şey yoktu.
Sen de o yağmurdan başlayıp o iş arkadaşlarına hatta oradan sokak çocuklarına sıçrayan kıskançlık alevleriyle her tarafı yakıp yıkarsın, iyiliğe karşı içinde keskin bir öfke duyarsın. “İyiliğiniz batsın!” dersin. Böyledir bahar yağmuru, kötü eder adamı.
Memleketinden uzak insanların dumanlı efkârlı ruh haline bizim küçük kızımız da girmiş, bu ruh haliyle geride bıraktığı her şey çok güzel mi gelmeye başlamıştı?
Highlights for The Ministry for the Future
In dealing with the poverty that still plagued so much of the Indian populace, the Indian government had had to create electricity as fast as they could, and also, since they existed in a world run by the market, as cheaply as they could. Otherwise outside investors would not invest, because the rate of return would not be high enough. So they had burned coal, yes. Like everyone else had up until just a few years before. Now India was being told not to burn coal, when everyone else had finished burning enough of it to build up the capital to afford to shift to cleaner sources of power. India had been told to get better without any financial help to do so whatsoever. Told to tighten the belt and embrace austerity, and be the working class for the bourgeoisie of the developed world, and suffer in silence until better times came— but the better times could never come, that plan was shot. The deck had been stacked, the game was over. And now twenty million people were dead.
India’s electrical power companies were nationalized where they weren’t already
change with us, change now, or suffer the wrath of Kali
The nineteen largest organizations doing this will be, in order of size from biggest to smallest: Saudi Aramco, Chevron, Gazprom, ExxonMobil, National Iranian Oil Company, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Pemex, Petróleos de Venezuela, PetroChina, Peabody Energy, ConocoPhillips, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Iraq National Oil Company, Total SA, Sonatrach, BHP Billiton, and Petrobras.
“Not good enough?” Mary suggested. “No, but nothing is ever good enough. We just make do.”
His therapists talked about trigger events. About avoiding triggers. What they were glossing over with this too-convenient metaphor was that life itself was just a long series of trigger events. That consciousness was the trigger. He woke up, he remembered who he was, he had a panic attack. He got over it and got on with his day as best he could.
We are the Children of Kali, and you can’t be one of us, even if you were here during the catastrophe. But you can do something. You can carry a message from us to the world. Maybe that can even help, we don’t know. But you can try. You can tell them that they must change their ways. If they don’t, we will kill them. That’s what they need to know. You can figure out ways to tell them that.”
To be clear, concluding in brief: there is enough for all. So there should be no more people living in poverty. And there should be no more billionaires. Enough should be a human right, a floor below which no one can fall; also a ceiling above which no one can rise. Enough is a good as a feast— or better.
the Food Sustainability Index, formulated by Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition
But look, the violence of carbon burning kills many more people than any punishment for capital crimes ever would. So really your morality is just a kind of surrender.”
So, if your organization represents the people who will be born after us, well, that’s a heavy burden! It’s a real responsibility! You have to think like them! You have to do what they would do if they were here.”
“People kill in self-defense all the time. Not to do that would be a kind of suicide. So people do it. And now your people are under assault. These supposed future people.”
You grew up in Nepal, right? And I grew up in Ireland. In both places there was a lot of political violence. Which really means murder, right? Murder and all that follows murder. Fear, grief, anger, revenge, all that.
The hidden quality of the nistarim is important; they are ordinary people, who emerge and act when needed to save their people, then sink back into anonymity as soon as their task is accomplished.
Avasthana, Sanskrit for survival.
Look, if you have to do something, you have to do it. Don’t keep talking about cost as if that’s a real thing. Money isn’t real. Work is real.
And so India is coming into its own. We are the new force. People around the world have begun to take notice. This too is new— no one elsewhere has been used to thinking of India as anything but a place of poverty, a victim of history and geography. But now they are looking at us with a little bit of confusion and wonder. What is this? A sixth of humanity on one big triangular patch of land, caught under the blazing sun, cut off by a mighty range of mountains: who are these people? A democracy, a polyglot coalition— wait, can it be? And what can it be? Do we make the Chinese, who so decisively stepped onto the world stage at the start of this century, look dictatorial, monolithic, brittle, afraid? Is India now the bold new leader of the world? We think maybe so.
No one denies future people are going to be just as real as us. So there isn’t any moral justification for the discounting, it’s just for our own convenience. Plenty of economists acknowledged this. Robert Solow said we ought to act as if the discount rate were zero. Roy Harrod said the discount rate was a polite expression for rapacity. Frank Ramsey called it ethically indefensible. He said it came about because of a weakness of the imagination.
The guilty need to know: even in their locked compounds, in their beds asleep at night, the Children of Kali will descend on you and kill you. There is no hiding, there is no escape.
When you lose all hope and all fear, then you become something not quite human. Whether better or worse than human I can’t say. But for an hour I was not a human being.
You could even say that money itself would resist this change. Indeed it seems to be the case that there’s simply a kind of inherent, inbuilt resistance to change!
Our current economics has not yet answered any of these questions. But why should it? Do you ask your calculator what to do with your life? No. You have to figure that out for yourself.
We laughed out loud. For a while we couldn’t stop laughing. Fuck Margaret Thatcher, I said when I could catch my breath. And I say it again now: fuck Margaret Thatcher, and fuck every idiot who thinks that way. I can take them all to a place where they will eat those words or die of thirst. Because when the taps run dry, society becomes very real. A smelly mass of unwashed anxious citizens, no doubt about it. But a society for sure. It’s a life or death thing, society, and I think people mainly do recognize that, and the people who deny it are stupid fuckers, I say this unequivocally. Ignorant fools. That kind of stupidity should be put in jail.
The Austrian and Chicago schools had run with that opinion, and thus neoliberalism: the market rules because it’s the best calculator. But now, with computers as strong as they’ve gotten, the Red Plenty argument has gotten stronger and stronger, asserting that people now have so much computing power that central planning could work better than the market. High-frequency trading has been put forth as an example of computers out-achieving the market proper, but instead of improving the system it’s just been used to take rents on every exchange. This a sign of effective computational power, but used by people still stuck in the 1930s terminology of market versus planning, capitalism versus communism. And by people not trying to improve system, but merely to make more money in current system. Thus economists in our time.
Having debunked the tragedy of the commons, they now were trying to direct our attention to what they called the tragedy of the time horizon. Meaning we can’t imagine the suffering of the people of the future, so nothing much gets done on their behalf. What we do now creates damage that hits decades later, so we don’t charge ourselves for it, and the standard approach has been that future generations will be richer and stronger than us, and they’ll find solutions to their problems. But by the time they get here, these problems will have become too big to solve. That’s the tragedy of the time horizon, that we don’t look more than a few years ahead, or even in many cases, as with high-speed trading, a few micro-seconds ahead. And the tragedy of the time horizon is a true tragedy, because many of the worst climate impacts will be irreversible.
carbon quantitative easing
It’s the vital work of our time. If we don’t fund a rapid carbon drawdown, if we don’t take the immense amount of capital that flows around the world looking for the highest rate of return and redirect it into decarbonizing work, civilization could crash. Then the dollar will be weak indeed.
Apparently he didn’t travel much compared to most people. That felt right. If you were mentally ill your energy use inevitably dropped, because you couldn’t put it together to live a normal life. He had gone to ground, he was living in a hole like a badger. Hibernating maybe. Waiting for some kind of spring to come.
Germans: they had seen the worst. They knew how bad it could get. Even though these were the grandchildren of the ones who had lived through it, or now mostly the great-grandchildren, there was still a cultural memory they could not escape, a memory that would last centuries.
everyone living in the past of their own region’s psyche to one extent or another, because they all lived in their languages, and if your native language was anything but English, you were estranged to one degree or other from the global village.
Always she had been prone to the rash act. She put it down to something Irish. It seemed to her that Irish women doing rash things was precisely how her people had managed to perpetuate themselves.
That pistol, that moment of fear— a jolting spike of fear for her life— she had not forgotten that, or forgiven it. She never would. Nothing was quite like that. But nothing was quite like anything.
The War for the Earth is often said to have begun on Crash Day. And it was later that same year when container ships began to sink, almost always close to land.
The fossil fuel lawyers and executives looked interested when this was proposed to them. The privately owned companies saw a chance of escaping with a viable post-oil business. The state-owned companies looked interested at the idea of compensation for their stranded assets, which they had already borrowed against, in the usual way of the rampant reckless financialization which was the hallmark of their time. Paid to pump water from the ocean up to some catchment basin? Paid to pump CO2 into the ground? Paid how much? And who would front the start-up expenses?
Eleven policies would get it done, they all told her. Carbon pricing, industry efficiency standards, land use policies, industrial process emissions regulations, complementary power sector policies, renewable portfolio standards, building codes and appliance standards, fuel economy standards, better urban transport, vehicle electrification, and feebates, which was to say carbon taxes passed back through to consumers.
As with a move from bank to credit union, instead of the company using the consumer, the consumer used the company, and owned it too. What did the company per se get out of it? Nothing, because a company was nothing. It was just an organization devised to help its employee-owners, nothing more. Like any other company, in the end. If you thought that was what they were.
Another banker, Mary thought. Out of seven Swiss presidents, how many came from a banking background? Four? Five?
The rentier class will not help in that project. They are not interested in that project. Indeed that project will be forwarded in the face of their vigorous resistance. Over their dead bodies, some of them will say. In which case, euthanasia may be just the thing.
a land tax properly designed could again swiftly redistribute land ownership more widely, while quickly swelling government coffers in order to pay for public work, thus reducing economic inequality.
This sudden loss of supply sent oil prices and oil futures sharply up. Oil was rarer now, therefore more expensive, which meant that clean renewable energy was now cheaper than oil by an even larger margin than before.
Or perhaps inflation: macroeconomics was no longer so very clear on the ultimate effects of quantitative easing, given that the evidence from the past half century could be interpreted either way. That this debate was a clear sign that macroeconomics as a field was ideological to the point of astrology was often asserted by people in all the other social sciences, but economists were still very skilled at ignoring outside criticisms of their field, and now they forged on contradicting themselves as confidently as ever.
In this case, these people insisted, please go back to the basics. Here’s the true economy, these people said: since the Earth’s biosphere was the only one available to humanity, and its healthy function absolutely necessary to humanity’s existence, its worth to people was a kind of existential infinity. Gauging the price of saving the biosphere’s functions against the cost of losing them would therefore always be impossible.
So until the climate was actually killing them, people had a tendency to deny it could happen. To others, yes; to them, no. This was a cognitive error that, like most cognitive errors, kept happening even when you knew of its existence and prevalence. It was some kind of evolutionary survival mechanism, some speculated, a way to help people carry on even when it was pointless to carry on.
What if the standard, or even the legally mandated, maximum wage ratio was set at say one to ten, being so easy to calculate? With the lowest level set high enough for life adequacy or decency or however you want to call it. Enough for a decent life. Which then, ten times that? That’s a lot! I mean think about it. Count it on your fingers and thumbs, seeing the enough amount on the tip of each digit, all ten stuck together at the end of your arms looking back at you. Enough times ten is fucking luxurious.
We listen to her, but not you. He said, I am Kali. Suddenly he felt the enormous weight of that, the truth of it. They stared at him and saw it crushing him. The War for the Earth had lasted years, his hands were bloody to the elbows. For a moment he couldn’t speak; and there was nothing more to say.
Can you make up a new society from scratch at that point? No, you can’t. Things just fall apart and next thing you know you’re eating your cat. So take this in: there has to be a pre-existing Plan B.
Even if you are a degrowth devolutionist, an anarchist or a communist or a fan of world government, we only do the global in the current world order by way of the nation-state system.
All over the world this was happening, they kept saying. All these sad little towns, the backbone of rural civilization, tossed into the trash bin of history.
They kill the good ones, Mary thought bitterly, the leaders, the tough ones, and then dare the weaker ones to pick up the torch and carry on. Few would do it. The killers would prevail. This was how it always happened. This explained the world they lived in; the murderers were willing to kill to get their way. In a fight between sociopathic sick wounded angry fucked-up wicked people, and all the rest of them, not just the good and the brave but the ordinary and weak, the sheep who just wanted to get by, the fuckers always won. The few took power and wielded it like torturers, happy to tear the happiness away from the many.
The hidden sheriff; she was ready for that now, that and the hidden prison. The guillotine for that matter. The gun in the night, the drone from nowhere. Whatever it took.
Another brick in the controlocracy, some said of this recorded money; but if the public kept ultimate control of this new global state, by way of people power exerted by the ever more frequent strikes and non-compliances, then the people too would be seeing where all the money was and where it was going, move by move, so that it couldn’t be shuffled into tax havens or otherwise hidden, without becoming inactivated by law.
the Half Earth projects
and capping personal annual income at ten times that minimum amount
“Revolution comes; not the expected one, but another, always another.”
Many are now tagged, and more all the time. There is coming into being a kind of Internet of Animals, whatever that means. Better perhaps to say they are citizens now, and have citizens’ rights, and therefore a census is being taken.
A cobbling-together from less-than-satisfactory parts. A slurry, a bricolage. An unholy mess.
You have to be part of a wave in history. You can’t get it just by wanting it, you can’t call for it and make it come. You can’t choose it— it chooses you! It arrives like a wave picking you up! It’s a feeling— how can I say it? It’s as if everyone in your city becomes a family member, known to you as such even when you have never seen their face before and never will again. Mass action, yes, but the mass is suddenly family, they are all on the same side, doing something important.
Then another five million come to live with you and everyone speaks English to understand each other. Pretty soon your kids speak English, pretty soon everyone speaks English, and then your language is gone. That would be a big loss, a crushing loss. So people get protective of that. The most important thing, therefore, is to learn the language. Not just English, but the local language, the native language. The mother tongue. Their culture doesn’t matter so much, just the language. That I find is the great connector. You speak their language and even when you’re messing it up like crazy, they get a look on their face: in that moment they want to help you.
Tom Athanasiou, Jürgen Atzgendorfer, Eric Berlow, Terry Bisson, Michael Blumlein (in memory), Dick Bryan, Federica Carugati, Amy Chan, Delton Chen, Joshua Clover, Oisín Fagan, Banning Garrett, Laurie Glover, Dan Gluesenkamp, Hilary Gordon, Casey Handmer, Fritz Heidorn, Jurg Hoigné (in memory), Tim Holman, Joe Holtz, Arlene Hopkins, Drew Keeling, Kimon Keramidas, Jonathan Lethem, Margaret Levi, Robert Markley, Tobias Menely, Ashwin Jacob Mathew, Chris McKay, Colin Milburn, Miguel Nogués, Lisa Nowell, Oskar Pfenninger (in memory), Kavita Philip, Armando Quintero, Carter Scholz, Mark Schwartz, Anasuya Sengupta, Slawek Tulaczyk, José Luis de Vicente, and K. Y. Wong