Filed under: brave new world | Tags: business, The New Yorker, The Disruption Machine, Jill Lepore, remorselessness, venture capital, startups
Is business to do good and do well, follow rules, keep obligations, listen to your conscience, be loyal, have a sense of commonweal, think long term, be thoughtful?
Or is it a terrifying place, with a devastating pace, where people are reckless, ruthless, predatory, and thieving, are remorseless, think only of short term gains, have no regrets, are disruptive? Schumpeter’s gale.
It’s a choice. Don’t believe anyone who says otherwise.
From Jill Lepore, The New Yorker:
The upstarts who work at startups don’t often stay at any one place for very long. (Three out of four startups fail. More than nine out of ten never earn a return.) They work a year here, a few months there—zany hours everywhere. They wear jeans and sneakers and ride scooters and share offices and sprawl on couches like Great Danes. Their coffee machines look like dollhouse-size factories.
They are told that they should be reckless and ruthless. Their investors, if they’re like Josh Linkner, tell them that the world is a terrifying place, moving at a devastating pace. “Today I run a venture capital firm and back the next generation of innovators who are, as I was throughout my earlier career, dead-focused on eating your lunch,” Linkner writes. His job appears to be to convince a generation of people who want to do good and do well to learn, instead, remorselessness. Forget rules, obligations, your conscience, loyalty, a sense of the commonweal. If you start a business and it succeeds, Linkner advises, sell it and take the cash. Don’t look back. Never pause. Disrupt or be disrupted.
The Disruption Machine, Jill Lepore, The New Yorker
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: capitalism, Common Core, democracy, Educating For The Status Quo, education, Shawn Gude
An inquiring mind, one that challenges authority, and has a mentoring relationship with teachers
A soft compliant mind.
The Common Core debate is important not simply because of the standards’ immediate effects on pupils, but because it offers us an opportunity to ask the biggest questions about our education system: What should be the guiding ethos of public education in a democratic society? What are we preparing students for, other than participation in economic life? And how should schooling be structured to reflect democratic values?
The short answers: Incredulity, not docility, is the trait to inculcate, along with a citizenry disposed to questioning received wisdom and orthodoxy and a less hierarchical teacher-student relationship. In each instance, the Common Core is an impediment.
Participation is a necessary component of freedom
Memorization of facts will make us dutiful.
From a democracy standpoint, there’s much to question here. First, the virtual omission of civic education, an area already treated as an afterthought in many public schools. The civic education we do have tends to be sanitized, fact-heavy regurgitation that casts democratic participation more as a duty than as a vehicle for emancipation.
Filed under: departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: Arthur C. Brooks, Love People Not Pleasure
Between friendship and fame pick friendship:
Consider fame. In 2009, researchers from the University of Rochester conducted a study tracking the success of 147 recent graduates in reaching their stated goals after graduation. Some had “intrinsic” goals, such as deep, enduring relationships. Others had “extrinsic” goals, such as achieving reputation or fame. The scholars found that intrinsic goals were associated with happier lives. But the people who pursued extrinsic goals experienced more negative emotions, such as shame and fear. They even suffered more physical maladies.
Love People, Not Pleasure, Arthur C. Brooks
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: boredom, division of labour, How to Be Free, Tom Hodgkinson, work
Here’s a case for finding enjoyable autonomous work. It’s probably impossible to find it for 100% of your day / week / year / life, but maybe 50% or 40% or maybe much less. Anyway whatever the number you are lucky enough to achieve, increasing the proportion should help to decrease boredom.
Boredom was invented in 1760. That is the year, according to academic Lars Svendsen in his excellent study A Philosophy of Boredom (2005), that the word was first used in English. The other great invention of the time was the Spinning Jenny, which heralded the start of the Industrial Revolution. In other words, boredom arrives with the division of labour and the transformation of enjoyable autonomous work into tedious slave-work.
Tom Hodgkinson, How to Be Free, p 18
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: anxiety, carefree, creativity, fate, security, The Freedom Manifesto, theology, Tom Hodgkinson
What makes us anxious? Everything it seems: job, relationship, traffic, people in general – ha! The quote below by Tom Hodgkinson says anxiety compromises our creative natures; that’s the most important message. To get creative again, which is our natural state, we must overcome anxiety. And to overcome anxiety, we must identify the things that make us anxious and counter them. Identify and counter. Here are some notes from my reading of this text.
Generally speaking, the pursuit of security is the root cause of anxiety. This pursuit includes all the biggies of modern life: career, mortgages etc; they make us anxious because they cancel our creativity.
The pursuit of security gives anxiety which cancels creativity. That’s the present formula. The new formula could be the rejection of security reduces anxiety and reinstates creative nature.
One antidote to security is fatalism. The mystical, ecumenical, smells and bells, communal, mindful, slightly superstitious faiths, with icons and saints and processions make us less anxious. Why? Because they emphasize fatedness over security and control; they help us to see our place in the world as haphazard, willed by some force outside of ourselves. They free us back into our natural creative natures.
From How to be Free:
Anxiety is the sacrifice of creativity in the service of security. It is the giving up of personal freedoms in return for the promise, never fulfilled, of comfort, cotton wool, air conditioned shopping centres. Security is a myth; it simply doesn’t exist. This does not stop us, however, from constantly chasing it.
Another simple solution to anxiety is to embrace a fatalistic theology. Catholics, say, are probably less anxious than Protestants. Buddhists are certainly less anxious than Jews. If you believe that there’s nothing much that you can do that makes any sense other than to enjoy yourself, then your anxiety will fade. If you have that Puritan cast of mind and feel that you are terribly important in the world and it really matters what you do, then your anxiety will increase. Self-importance breeds anxiety. We must learn not to care – not in the sense of being selfish but in the sense of being carefree.
Tom Hodgkinson, How To Be Free, p 11
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: James Surowiecki, overwork, The Cult of Overwork, work
Working excessive hours results in low quality and productivity, fatigue, mistakes etc. But we still overwork. That, I suppose is what makes overwork a cult. Cults are groups with belief systems that are dubious and often deleterious. Koolaid anyone?
So in our work we cling to dubious beliefs. Why? I think the US is more committed to this cult than most other places. In my last job interview, after nearly 20 years commitment to my profession, I was offered, by a very earnest man ten years my senior, two weeks vacation.
Why do the people of the US work longer than the people of western Europe, as an example? No doubt a million reasons. I think of the US as a country of aspiring immigrants who have allowed themselves to become unbalanced in their lives. Government oversight is pushed to the side, the safety net all but dismantled, the myth that hard work will lead to success firmly in place, the odious myth that you deserve your relative successes and failures ascendant, the and a million people striving to prove themselves – all of these conspire to turn us further and further away from a life in which work is held in balance with other equally fulfilling uses of our time.
Of course the original immigrant was the puritan Pilgrim, who brought with him a dour, retributive, shame and blame, angry sense of the world: a “slavish literalness, [a] deficient sense of proportion, a bearing down upon minutiae with the same emphasis brought to larger and fundamental points.” (Perry Miller, The Puritans) That may have something to do with it: the minutiae of working every minute with every ounce of effort precluding the more fundamental point of living one’s life well.
So, in spite of all of the evidence that overwork is not good for business, or health or a balanced life, we go on working. Definitely a cult.
The perplexing thing about the cult of overwork is that, as we’ve known for a while, long hours diminish both productivity and quality. Among industrial workers, overtime raises the rate of mistakes and safety mishaps; likewise, for knowledge workers fatigue and sleep-deprivation make it hard to perform at a high cognitive level. As Solomon put it, past a certain point overworked people become “less efficient and less effective.” And the effects are cumulative. The bankers Michel studied started to break down in their fourth year on the job. They suffered from depression, anxiety, and immune-system problems, and performance reviews showed that their creativity and judgment declined.
The Cult of Overwork, James Surowiecki
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: freedom, Lao Tzu, life, money, serenity
Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.