"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

The Management Myth

A Repost from the Atlantic Monthly:

The world of management theorists remains exempt from accountability. In my experience, for what it’s worth, consultants monitored the progress of former clients about as diligently as they checked up on ex-spouses (of which there were many). Unless there was some hope of renewing the relationship (or dating a sister company), it was Hasta la vista, baby. And why should they have cared? Consultants’ recommendations have the same semantic properties as campaign promises: it’s almost freakish if they are remembered in the following year.

Interesting article in all. I've long felt that the culture around managment and related consulting is a kind of voodoo. The paralells Stewart draws between these gestalts and traditional religion are apt.

Most organizations can probably benefit more from increasing transparently (if only internally) than from any passing management fad, but this is something bureaucracies will always resist. Why? Well, it actually does make it hard to hide inefficiencies, which leads to the inevitable question of "how much more productivity could we have?"

This is part and parcel of the perverse American relationship to work and productivity. WE work too long for too little, and we produce too little of real value as well. I know a lot of people (including myself) who will work needless 16 hour days or 80 hour weeks because we think this makes us herculean performers in our trade, when in fact if we were just to plan and focus a little more we could have been done much more quickly.

The problem is that getting all your work done quickly and then -- egad! -- clocking out to do non-work things is seen as a sign of slackerdom, while objectively spending twice as long to accomplish half as much is seen as heroic.

This starts with a work-style that develops in the college system (slack and cram, all while managing perceptions), and becomes embedded and ingraned over the course of years.

It gets worse in larger organizations, where that "perceptions management" part becomes more important than the actual products of your work, which are unlikely to be truly consequential.

And now I'm off to file my TPS reports...

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Net Neutrality: Dueling Videos

The Telcos have a folksy piece of flash propaganda out as a paid ad on most of the major blogs that's hitting back against Net Neutrality. It features freaky ranters (me), corporate fatcats (google, yahoo and microsoft), and a balding bureaucrat (the g-man).

The ad is highly misleading overall (of course). One of the things it doesn't feature is any telecommunication company. Funny, that. But to me, the best part is this:

"Net Neutrality is about who controls the internet: the people, or the government."

Huh. I wonder where turning over all phone records to Homeland Security spooks fits into this equation?

This is market fundimentalism at its finest: the will of the people is expressed through (unregulated) markets and frustrated by things like democratic government. This sort of ideology has been roundly shown to be false in real-world situations, yet it remains a strong force within the culture of Corporate America, which dominates the mindset of Washington DC. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

You wanna see a real video about Net Neutrality? Ask a motherfucking ninja:

There's more here.

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Well, they certainly seem headed toward the ontoligical showdown. That's satisfying. Gets my brain all het up. Interesting that the girls who died were the same ones with DUIs.

Causality? I tend to think it's the reverse: actors get written out of a show, they have to stick around for a month or so more, they get careless, etc. Boom. Boozed up in Maui, why not do a little joyriding. Lord knows I've done the same just feeling reckless in Oregon.

Anywayn, out here it's thunderbolts and lightning. First big Spring rain. Smells pretty good.

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It's come to this. Sublet my place!

UPDATE: Ok, I think I have like 20 unread emails now. That's enough!

UPDATE UPDATE: What's with all the "UPDATE"s lately?

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The War Tapes

Iraq is gonna be procesed by our culture very differently than any previous wars. Exhibit A -- The War Tapes:

You can get a sense of the whole project a little better from the trailer. This will be worth checking out I think.

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The War Tapes

Iraq is gonna be procesed by our culture very differently than any previous wars. Exhibit A -- The War Tapes:

You can get a sense of the whole project a little better from the trailer. This will be worth checking out I think.

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The Daddy State Knows Who You're Calling

USA Today of all places has broken the news that the NSA has a massive database of domestic US phone calls. The legal authorization? None. As Glenn Greenwald put it:

We now learn that when Americans call their Aunt Millie, or their girlfriend, or their psychiatrist, or their drug counselor, or their priest or rabbi, or their lawyer, or anyone and everyone else, the Government is very interested. In fact, they are so interested that they make note of it and keep it forever, so that at any time, anyone in the Government can look at a record of every single person whom every single American ever called or from whom they received a call. It doesn't take a professional privacy advocate to find that creepy, invasive, dangerous and un-American.

I also find it worth noting how the government got this information: they asked for it, and every big telco (with the exception of Qwest) just turned over the records.

We are living in a society where the power of the State is increasingly being concentrated into a single entity (the Decider in Chief). At the same time, enormous undemocratic organizations called "Corporations" administer most of the ins and outs of our daily life, and function as both a perverse/corrupting influence and aider and abetter of wrongful State action.

It's like the worst of both worlds! This is what happens when you concentrate wealth and power, and remove checks, balances and real competition: mega-suckage. Big government and Big Business are in bed alright, tag-teaming the little guy.

UPDATE: In another perverse twise, the NSA effectively stomped out a Department of Justice investigation into their wiretapping programs by denying their lawyers security clearance. You can't make shit like this up.

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...And We're Back

I have to learn to pay my webhosting bills on time it seems.

Yesterday's birthday dinner was fab. Julia made some amazing chicken and greens and carrots and slaw and macaroni. And there was grazy, praise be.

I haven't seen the new Lost yet, but it's in the torrentfeed.

The ratio of seeders is real good (maybe 15k seeds for 35k downloaders), and I got the whole thing downloaded in under an hour. For anyone who's wondering whether widespread use of bittorrent will work for releasing video content: the proof is in the pudding.

Warner Bros is doing a half-bright partnership here, and it blows my mind that people continue to miss the boat. Here's the deal, fuckers: you can eat Netflix's lunch and be poised to score big on the next generation of content that's going to suck the life out of cable networks, all without impacting your existing bottom-line. Get it? Good. Now keep it.

UPDATE: Hollywood may be in for an indie-shellacking soon: participatory culture style.

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On this day 27 years ago I was born. Huzzah for life.

It's a new era. I no longer reflexively think of myself as 24, but I don't yet have a new age-identity to roll with. I'm in a middle ground between the Eriksonian crises of Intimacy vs. Isolation and Generativity vs. Self-Absorbtion. I think I'm doing well on both counts -- a bit snobby on the Intimacy tip and only truly Generative in fits and starts -- but I'm very much starting to feel the lack of a well-defined career path. Where, exactly, am I going with all this?

For the past half-year, I've been working, living, and loving pretty steadily: Trellon, Park Slope, the Belle du Mois. These things have been good, but I'm about to let them go. In three weeks or so, I'll get on an airplane and fly West, there to live for the summer with my friend Mark -- and compadres Kelly, Zya, and associated nerdowells -- at the Country Soul Carnival in Westhaven, California, State of Jefferson. I'm stepping down as Lead Developer to focus on creative works and speculative projects, freeing up my schedule and scrambling a life that's been comfortable, but also somewhat confining. I'm trying for another run at the unknown and impossible.

I sense a fork in the road. Do I buckle down and try to become a "sucessful professional" in some sense or another? I could, you know. I have a lucrative trade, a pretty keen analytical mind, and I can talk with the best of them. I'm teaching a workshop this weekend and speaking at a conference on Monday. I got skills, yo. Play the game. Play to win.

Or do I want to follow the other fork, the one marked "get a life, not a job?" The hard truth is that I don't have much of a stomach for ladder-climbing. I'm not excited by money. I long for a community-oriented lifestyle, rich in human connections and creativity and the like. I also crave adventure, the buzz of new things and new people and challenges.

Bob Frost is right that the road less traveled is the one worth taking, but I wonder whether I'm not falling into another well-worn rut by setting up this kind of dichotomy in the first place? Isn't it a cliche either way? The one-time artist who packs away his bohemian leanings to join the workaday world is just as much a architype as the dropout hippy who skates by on talent and luck in his own Pirate Utopia.

It seems to me that the real road less traveled is the fusion route, the uncompromising stand. That kind of scares me, which my internal Allen Ginsuburg quote-machine reminds me is how you know when you're getting into something good.

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Moral Values


50% of surveys Americans say the Democratic party "comes closer to sharing their moral values," compared to 37% of Republicans.

That's a bit of a monkey-wrench in the tired conventional wisdom of "values voters," but it shows that people may be waking up to the fact that health care, wages, and well-funded education have more to do with the well-being of families than whether or not Steve and Jerry down the block have legal recognition of their lifelong live-in love.

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