Penelope Trunk, Will Jeff Bezos Get Half of MacKenzie Bezos’s Fortune in the Divorce?, blog.peneleopetrunk.com (2019-01-13). MacKenzie has always stood up for her contribution in the marriage. But it’s not so easy for most women. Most women did not work side by side with their spouse to start the most disruptive company in the world.
Most women do their half of the team’s work and get very little credit for it. Because when it comes to spousal partnerships, society talks about the stay-at-home spouse like they are a freeloader, waiting to pick up their check in the divorce.
Jeffrey Bigham, A Camera is Watching You in Your AirBnB: And, you consented to it., jeffreybigham.com (2019-01-14). I’ve received a lot of requests for interviews and such, but I’m not sure how much more I have to say. I’ve also heard from many guests and hosts. Many guests have similar stories (absent the viral blog post and nice resolution, apparently…). I’ve also heard from a lot of hosts who have indoor cameras because guests rent their home to have huge parties, trash them, and then have trouble recouping their costs. It’s hard to be a guest and a host, and wifi cameras are fuel on the fire.
Finally, all of us need to think carefully about how we will live in an increasingly surveilled world. Just because it’s so easy to record everything now doesn’t mean we should.
Samuel Beckett, In Our Time (2019-01-17). [42:34] Beckett's incredibly interested in systematic thinking, but it's always systems that are on the point of breaking down. So at one level there's a sense that systems create a kind of hyper-order, but that hyper-order is always tipping over into a kind of absurdity. It's the sort of glitches in the systems, I think, that Beckett's really interested in.
#744 - It's No Joke: Prank Musical Greeting Card Earns $36,000/Month, Side Hustle School (2019-01-14). [09:50] Also, even though it was originally a pretty silly idea, the way he's been able to create longterm business value from it is through the execution of the idea. So it's not easy to build those relationships with vendors and make decisions about how many tens of thousands of cards to order. And then when disaster strikes, like that crazy experience with the battery's being duds, it's not a simple thing at all to figure out how to respond and recover. So that to me is where the value is, that is just as interesting as coming up with the initial idea. So if you hear this story and you think, "Oh, well, that's pretty cool but, you know, the whole trick was in the idea", I think the whole trick is in the execution of the idea.
Episode 207: Herder on Art Appreciation (Part One), The Partially Examined Life (2019-01-14). [33:33] "Taste in one art roused taste in every other art; there was, so to speak, a harmonious atmosphere in which the similarly tuned strings of all the different instruments vibrated and resonated at a single touch." I think in a lot of this stuff he's really trying to combine all these different elements. I really like that section about how one art can affect another art and you have to be open to that sort of thing happening.
[33:54] Yeah, you kind of picture New York City in certain periods where it's a hotbed of artistic expression, and it's not just music, and it's not just avant garde Andy Warhol stuff, it's, like, everything is influencing each other and all the barriers between the different arts go down.
Elisabeth Braw, Trucking Is the Security Crisis You Never Noticed, Foreign Policy (2018-09-19). "Transportation is too cheap," Huster said. "In the past, the fee per container going from Asia to Europe was often 2,000 euros [$2,300]. Today, it's 200 euros [$233]. And with freight shipping that cheap, people expect the truck part to be correspondingly cheap." According to a new survey by PwC, Amazon Prime customers value the unlimited free delivery offered by the service most, with 72 percent of them saying it's the main benefit of the service.
Lowell L. Getz, A Silent Witness To The Growth Of The University of Illinois, Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (2016-08-15). For undetermined reasons (there are several unverified suggestions), this stream was named the Boneyard. As Champaign became larger and university buildings were constructed near its banks, the Boneyard became essentially an open sewer. So foul was the water, in the early days of the University, it was common-place for tug of wars to be conducted over the Boneyard, the losers being dragged into the stinking water.
Penelope Trunk, To do something big, aim to be irrelevant., blog.peneleopetrunk.com (2018-12-23). I don’t believe specialization is bad. But I do believe it’s scary. You could get hurt, you could miss your big chance, you could be disappointed, you could fail publicly. But if you don’t learn to take risks by specializing early then you won’t be able to be great at anything later in life.
Kat Rosenfeld, The Millions Will Live on, But the Indie Book Blog Is Dead, Vulture (2019-01-09). But it's also true that the site's sustainability depended on attracting young writers who were willing to work for no or low pay in exchange for the mere possibility of a career boost. Reasonable people can disagree on whether such an arrangement is always detrimental to the literary sphere; certainly, the Millions couldn't have existed in its current form without it, especially in a world where readers still balk at paywalls or subscription models. But what seems undeniable is that unpaid (or unreliably paid) blogging is a young person's game. To a one, the Millions staffers I spoke to described loving their time at the site — but also finding the commitment impractical, and then impossible, as the responsibilities of adulthood, career, and family (particularly children) began to accrue.
664: The Harsh Reality of Innovative Companies, HBR IdeaCast (2019-01-08). [04:51] You want to celebrate the learning that comes from failure, not celebrating the failure. There's productive failures and there's unproductive failures, and you want to judge failures in terms of how much you learn. So, if you tried something new, and it's risky, and it doesn't work, so it quote-unquote fails, but you've now learned something about the path forward that could be attractive, that's worth celebrating the learning from that. If you just came up with a bad design or did sloppy work and you failed, that's not worth celebrating. The focus has got to be on the learning, not the failure.
Jon Udell, Critical mass and social network fatigue, blog.jonudell.net (2007-02-06). Years ago at BYTE Magazine my friend Ben Smith, who was a Unix greybeard even then (now he's a Unix whitebeard), made a memorable comment that's always stuck with me. We were in the midst of evaluating a batch of LAN email products. "One of these days," Ben said in, I think, 1991, "everyone's going to look up from their little islands of LAN email and see this giant mothership hovering overhead called the Internet.
How Super Mario became a global cultural icon, The Economist (2016-12-24). There is one aspect of his context, though, that matters: fun. Mr Abe turned up in Rio dressed as Mario not just because Mario is instantly recognisable around the world. He embodies the delight of play. Talking to the New York Times in 2008 the reclusive Mr Miyamoto explained that people like Mario and his ilk "not for the characters themselves, but because the games they appear in are fun. And because people enjoy playing those games first, they come to love the characters as well."
Frankie Huang, The Rise and Fall of China’s Cycling Empires, Foreign Policy (2018-12-31). Meanwhile, Shanghai is adding more docking stations, perhaps a return to the boring, but infinitely more manageable, version of the bike-share. There's always going to be a small audience for cycling—but it turned out to be a bad dream to build giant firms on.
Kickstarter: Perry Chen, How I Built This (2018-12-31). [22:28] In some ways we made every mistake in the book. We did one lap that way. Classic stuff like people with experience telling us, "You know, you shouldn't do something this way", and us being like "Well, we appreciate that, but, like, you know, it'll be different for us". And then of course it's like exactly what they said happened. Well, duh.
Caity Weaver, What Is Glitter?, The New York Times (2018-12-21). So: what is glitter? A manipulation of humans’ inherent desire for fresh water. An intangible light effect made physical. Mostly plastic, and often from New Jersey. Disposable by design but, it turns out, not literally disposable. A way to make long winter nights slightly brighter, despite the offshore presence of Germans. An object in which the inside of a potato chip bag meets the aurora borealis.
Michael Schulman, Daniel Radcliffe and the Art of the Fact-Check, The New Yorker (2018-10-15). "One of the flaws—maybe it isn't a flaw—that my character has in the play is that he has no ability to differentiate between the things that matter and the things that don't," Radcliffe said. Canby, who had seen a preview, assured him that his character was spot-on, while allowing, "It's not really a science. It's more of an art."
Siobhan Roberts, The Yoda of Silicon Valley, The New York Times (2018-12-17). Following Dr. Knuth's doctrine helps to ward off moronry. He is known for introducing the notion of "literate programming," emphasizing the importance of writing code that is readable by humans as well as computers — a notion that nowadays seems almost twee. Dr. Knuth has gone so far as to argue that some computer programs are, like Elizabeth Bishop's poems and Philip Roth's "American Pastoral," works of literature worthy of a Pulitzer.
Saba Imtiaz, Eating Black Forest in Lahore, Roads & Kingdoms (2018-09-25). The original black forest cake, made with sour cherries and cherry brandy, was created in Germany around 1915. According to the Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, the cake is most often credited to the pastry chef Josef Keller, who created it while working at the Cafe Agner in Bad Godesberg, a spa town south of Bonn. The halal Pakistani version does away with liquor, features sickly-sweet canned cherries, and is typically studded with chunks of tinned pineapple or peaches. To make it even more Pakistani, you can get your black forest cake topped with mango.
Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann, GE Powered the American Century—Then It Burned Out, Wall Street Journal (2018-12-14). Immelt was so confident in GE's managerial excellence that he projected a sunny vision for the company's future that didn't always match reality. He was aware of the challenges, but he wanted his people to feel like they were playing for a winning team. That often left Immelt, in the words of one GE insider, trying to market himself out of a math problem.
YANSS 143 – How to Talk to People About Things, You Are Not So Smart (2018-12-17). (notes) [34:26] A really useful thing to understand is that everybody, by nature, going in, just starts just thinking about what they want and their view of the situation. But if you're in an actual negotiation—and a negotiation means something where you and the other party have to come to an agreement together, you're trying to reach an agreement together—that's a terrible strategy for solving the problem. It's not going to work. So, again, that's again my question, you have that starting question of "What are you actually trying to get here?" So some people go into a negotiation, "so here's what I'm going to try to do. I'm going to persuade them to my point of view, and I'm going to do all these other kinds of things." I say, "What are you actually trying to get?" "Well, what I want is an agreement that serves my needs and that they're going to agree to." Which means it has to serve their needs. So you might not think you care about their needs, that's a really important thing in negotiation. Typically, for most of us, especially when the stakes are high, you think, "Well I just care about my needs, I don't care about their needs." But that's a huge mistake because you're only going to come to an agreement if you come to an agreement that suits their needs.
Y Combinator's Michael Seibel: "Stupidity or genius", Danny in the Valley (2018-12-20). [10:03] I feel as though today the companies that are big, not only are they big, but they are cognizant of how they got big, and how they disrupted the last generation, and they're very, very clearly making moves to prevent new people from disrupting them. [...] [10:39] But I think at the same time as though users are getting fed up because they know the products aren't as good anymore.
Daniel Cossins, We thought the Incas couldn’t write. These knots change everything, New Scientist (2018-09-26). De la Vega was among many chroniclers who hinted as much, writing in one passage that the Incas “recorded on knots everything that could be counted, even mentioning battles and fights, all the embassies that had come to visit the Inca, and all the speeches and arguments they had uttered”. True, he was prone to ambiguity and contradictions. But about a third of the khipus in collections seem to have a more elaborate construction than the others, as if they contain a different sort of information. For decades the point was moot, however, because no one could read any of them.
Richard M. Roberts and Roger J. Kreuz, Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language (2017). (notes) In a mental simulation, focusing on the process of what it will take to reach a goal results in better planning than focusing on the outcome of what will happen once the goal is achieved. Not only does such process-focused planning result in a greater probability of actually reaching the goal, it also reduces stress along the way. In other words, in deciding whether or not to study French, think about how each day must be structured in order to find the time to study, rather than how great it will be to toss off witty bons mots at the café Les Deux Magots.
W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Fair Process: Managing in the Knowledge Economy, Harvard Business Review 75:4 (July-August 1997). (notes) Notice that fair process is not decision by consensus. Fair process does not set out to achieve harmony or to win people’s support through compromises that accommodate every individual’s opinions, needs, or interests. While fair process gives every idea a chance, the merit of the ideas—and not consensus—is what drives the decision making.
Tim Ferriss: depression, psychedelics, and emotional resilience (EP.01), The Peter Attia Drive (2018-07-02). [...] Paul Conti, made this point to me, which was, "The way you treat yourself is ultimately how you will treat those you love most." And, you know, when he really pushed me to think about that, which is, "Do you want to be the guy who treats his kids the way you treat yourself?" It had to be put that way for me to think, "No." I mean, if I'm going to be brutally honest, I would not want to watch my kids get treated by another human the way I treat myself, even though I think it's good for me to treat myself this way. So again, I think the challenge is, by far the hardest part is getting people to accept that maybe what they're doing isn't the right thing [...]
660: Why It’s So Hard to Sell New Products, HBR IdeaCast (2018-12-11). (notes) In general, I'd say the best reps focus really on the client side, in understanding what the client's challenges might be in buying a new product. Whereas, the lower performing reps, when it comes to selling new products, focus almost exclusively on the product.
Played on repeat: Rancid, Old Friend, ...And Out Come the Wolves (1995).
Rebecca Schuman, the Rollins paradox, ask a gen-xer (2018-11-08). Arguments over the "integrity" of punk rock — wherein something truly punk is supposed to be utterly devoid of ca$h money in homage to its progenitors’ limited means, when in reality punk was a protest cry from people with limited means, against Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan or whatever, for sticking them with those limited means in the first place—are generally made from the comfort of someone’s home by clothed and fed people who have enough fucking spare time to argue about something so ridiculous.
David Cain, The Simple Joy of "No Phones Allowed", Raptitude (2018-11-13). I imagine that in another decade or two we’ll look at 2010s-era device use something like we do now with cigarette smoking. I was born in 1980, and I remember smoking sections on planes, which is unthinkable today. I wonder if today’s kids will one day vaguely remember the brief, bizarre time when people didn’t think twice about lighting up a screen in the middle of a darkened concert hall.
Michael Engelhard, Moving Pictures from the Permafrost, Utne Reader (2018-12-09). Film is, quite literally, social memory, this award-winning auteur insists. “When we lose filmic record, we lose the memory that these things occurred.” Film also has an uncanny power to resurface, which allows reexamination and re-contextualization.
Karen Han, In Praise of Tom Waits, Character Actor, The Ringer (2018-11-20). There’s an ease to Waits’s work in Buster Scruggs that makes it seem like it might just be what straddles the line between the two mediums—or come closest to really defining what Waitsian might mean—as his growl pitches high, low, and all over the place in his search for gold.
Robert H. Waterman, Jr., Thomas J. Peters, and Julien R. Phillips, Structure Is Not Organization, Business Horizons 23:3 (1980-06). (pdf) (notes) In other words, the rules we use in order to get on with it in big organizations limit our ability to optimize anything.
Dave Eggers Reads Sam Shepard, The New Yorker: Fiction (2018-12-01). [32:45, Dave Eggers] This is what I think attracts a lot of people, and always has attracted people to this country, is just how much room there is, you know, the interstate highways, and you really can go drive off and never see anybody you've ever known again. And I love that as sort of a concept, and I also like the concept that maybe sometimes people are just going—not necessarily running away, but going because instead of going from something or running from something or going to something, I like the idea of allowing him or anybody to go without motive or without a reason.
Mark Singer, Ricky Jay's Magical Secrets, The New Yorker (1993-04-05). (notes) At McCabe’s, he was doing improvisational patter. He had his stuff down so well he was just free. He had the guts to bring people onstage and really play with them, instead of having to be so careful that they might see something that would cause him to blow what he was trying to do. He was very casual, but his language had a Shakespearean feel. He was brutal with hecklers—not because it would throw him off. He just didn’t like hecklers. He vaporized them.
Kate Bernot, Why hundreds of breweries all plan to make the exact same IPA, The Takeout (2018-11-21). To further raise funds for fire relief, Sierra Nevada has created an IPA called Resilience IPA, with 100 percent of sales going to the Camp Fire fund. The brewery’s founder, Ken Grossman, then called on every brewery in America to brew the same beer, providing the recipe for Resilience so others could replicate it and donate further proceeds to the fund.
Keith Rollag, Salvatore Parise and Rob Cross, Getting New Hires Up to Speed Quickly, Sloan Management Review (Winter 2005). (notes) Newcomers represent one of a company's most important and underutilized assets—a source of fresh ideas, perspectives, expertise and industry contacts that an organization can leverage to become more innovative and competitive. [...] The challenge is to capture the fresh ideas and insights from newcomers before they either become socialized into old ways of thinking or simply give up trying to change the system.
Russ Parsons, Julie, Julia and me: Now it can be told, The Los Angeles Times (2009-08-12). So that solves part of the mystery of Julia's dis: professional pride. This won't come as a surprise to anyone who knew her well. One of the marvelous things about Julia Child was that even with all of the honors she had earned, she still approached her work with the earnestness (and competitiveness) of a beginner.
657: How Your Identity Changes When You Change Jobs, HBR IdeaCast (2018-11-20). (notes) The only way we learn is by doing something different, see what happens, and whether that's something useful or not. And so the process of learning requires doing some different things. What's fun about the idea of playfulness is it's not play in the literal sense of the word, but playfulness in the sense of giving yourself license not to be consistent, and giving yourself the freedom to just try things out without necessarily having a very specific purpose. It replaces the logic of efficiency with the logic of exploration.
Douglas Rushkoff, Universal Basic Income Is Silicon Valley’s Latest Scam, Medium (2018-10-10). When it's looked at the way a software developer would, it's clear that UBI is really little more than a patch to a program that's fundamentally flawed. The real purpose of digital capitalism is to extract value from the economy and deliver it to those at the top. If consumers find a way to retain some of that value for themselves, the thinking goes, you're doing something wrong or "leaving money on the table."
Steven G. Rogelberg, Cliff Scott and John Kello, The Science and Fiction of Meetings, Sloan Management Review (2007-01-01). Although most employees believe that they have above-average meeting-oriented skills, that cannot be so. The reality is that many companies would see significant improvements if employees simply learned some of the basics: when to call meetings, how to prepare an agenda, how to encourage participation and how to manage cultural differences and resolve conflicts.
Evan Osnos, Facebook and the Age of Manipulation, The New Yorker (2018-11-15). The portrait of Facebook presented in the Times, as in other reports over the past two years, is no longer that of a hacker but, rather, that of a practiced participant in this golden age of manipulation, in which influential organizations—companies, candidates, murky political actors—use their power to shape political outcomes in ways they don’t disclose and that the public rarely fully understands.
Oliver Burkeman, Why do we feel so busy? It’s all our hidden ‘shadow work’, The Guardian (2018-10-12) Automation was always supposed to take care of the tedious jobs, so we could enjoy more leisure time. In reality, it’s taken paid work away from humans, while also increasing their burden of shadow work, by transferring tasks from employees to consumers.
Sarah Baird, This Appalachian Nonprofit Puts Books In The Hands Of Inmates Who Need Them, Buzzfeed News (2018-11-12) "Part of what happens is that the letters themselves are so personal and idiosyncratic that they do a lot of the work undoing the [prison] stigma," Ryan says. "Any stereotype you might have will be eroded by reading the letters, particularly when drawing a beautiful rose on the envelope doesn't really fit with what you might think about a person in prison."
Richard Feynman, There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom, Engineering and Science 23:5 (1960-02) Now, the name of this talk is "There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom"—not just "There is Room at the Bottom." What I have demonstrated is that there is room—that you can decrease the size of things in a practical way. I now want to show that there is plenty of room.
ep. 8 | that brunch in the forest, Smithsonian Sidedoor (2018-11-14) Native Americans had held celebrations and dances around a harvest long before 1621. And Europeans in America had church-style services to give thanks since the 1500s. So how did Thanksgiving become the holiday about the brunch in the forest?
S 3 E 7 This Is Marketing, Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin (2018-11-14) So it's tempting, in the old model of marketing, of average stuff for average people, to get rid of the tension, to make it super easy. But in fact, that's not going to help you. That we have to embrace the tension, and in fact cause the tension, because that's what we're doing when we show up and offering to make change. We're inflicting tension on the people we seek to serve. And the tension is, "Where you are now is fine, but where I will take you, where we will go together, is better. And the only way to you to better is to get you to leave fine behind."