July 19th, 2005

A washer for my thoughts?

Okay, I'm up and conscious, and according to the weather report I'm going to mildew today. Forecast is for 90F and 90% humidity.

I'm going to put off summarizing all the "rape" posts, because I have more immediate things that want my attention if I'm going to get Gabe to pennsic. If things get too rushed, I may have to forego BaitCon, and I don't want to do that.

As we've "progressed" as a civilization, we've gotten more and more thoroughly engineered. This means we've learned to make do with the minimum possible amounts of whatever's under discussion at the moment. Which in turn means as things start to break down, they will do so in more and more catastrophic ways, because the *last* time something like whatever-is-under-discussion broke down it was a much sturdier one. And the ancillary resources it relies on are also built thinner, so we'll have things breaking that we didn't expect to break.

Think about the differences between a modern car and an old one. A 1960 Chevy was a big, cumbersome, heavy boat. It also had a huge amount of room and cargo capacity, and had a lot of heavy pieces of metal to bolt things to, and the engine could be fixed by anyone who understood the basic concepts of internal combustion, had a few tools, and was willing to fiddle. Compare that to a 2005 Toyota or Honda. A quarter the mass, technically expected to hold as many bodies, but of much smaller people, and much higher "crash-worthiness" rating. But if the '60 chevy hits the '05 honda, there isn't going to be much left of the honda. And what there is left won't be fixable. The Chevy will be damaged, and some of the passengers may be dead, but a few whangs in the right places with a sledgehammer and we'll be able to use the car.

The above example might turn out to be irrelevant or meaninglessly tangential. Or just plain wrong; the last time I looked in detail at a '60 Chevy was about 1965.

The idea I'm trying to reach for is that the faith-based cultures of the 17th century that gave rise to American culture as we knew it before Ronnie Ray-gun lost his few remaining marbles and left the country to Nancy, her astrologer, and George I had a lot of underlying structure that has been dissolving since then, but we've been so dismissive of the obvious faults of those cultures that we've been tossing babies out with the bathwater. Every time we reach for a cultural value to use as a handhold, it breaks off in our hand, as per the 'over-engineering' concept three paragraphs up.

So if we want to have a culture, we have to figure out what our proper common value structure is, and sort out all those elements we were calling "propriety" back in the rape discusson. Which order decisions get made in is crucial; if we find ourselves obsessing on the propriety of Harry Potter spoilers when we need to be distributing anti-cancer drugs we end up with the next civilization having to wait until the cockroaches evolve up to the point of needing it.

Next topic: Why Management is difficult and vital.

Oh, the title: I think faster than I type, and so connecting bits often get left out when I brainstorm. The washers are to try to keep enough distance between the bits that they don't break each other.

(no subject)

Okay, *MY* Problem: I've got 20 years of hard training to explain my ideas to a live F2F audience and gain consensus with them before pursuing them. Consensus is a difficult and inefficient means of getting buy-in; much like was once said of democracy, its only advantage is that it works. In the "Real World", we often don't have the luxury of waiting for consensus, which is why Management was invented.

Management pisses me off, especially as I was once well-paid to do it. The part of the job they would teach you in a B-school is reasonably simple, easy, and fulfilling; it just consists of mapping resources onto job requirements,fiddling one or the other 'til they fit each other, motivating your people to apply the resources to the task, and reporting to your boss about whether you have what you need to get your part of the job done on time. In actual practice it turns into upper-management pressure on mid-level managers to cheat like hell, which is why the system eventually collapses. Everybody Else Is Doing It, and you do too or you get fired for low performance. If you saw the SciAm article on the Prisoner's Dilemma a few years back, that's what it's like.

And right now I have a whole bunch of great ideas I need to get out of my head, and an equally big bunch of practical jobs that need me to do them, and my head is preparing to shut down with a tension headache. If I had a People to serve (kinky people reading this are welcome to think of me as a service-oriented Dom), conquering my pain would be relatively trivial, but assembling the People is about Job #3 on the list. So who is my audience, and how do I know if I've addressed my idea to them in a comprehensible fashion? I don't know how to measure comprehension of hypothetical audiences; I'm not sure it's possible.

Not at all sure I'm being coherent,


Asshole for rent, $300/day.

Damn. Got a lot on my mind and the headache is closing in again.

Spoke with my Dad about the Men's weekend he went on. He thinks it would be good for me to go on a similar weekend, but refuses to tell me *why*, which I find frustrating. He does say it's experiential rather than knowlege-based, and that the reason he won't tell me is that he doesn't want to encourage my forebrain to get in the way of my experience.

Problem is, he also affirms that the guy who leads the weekend is an arrogant, melodramatic asshole, who leads workshop weekends because he makes a good living for himself doing so, as opposed to wanting to help people, or some such. My father is a very well-behaved, quiet man; this is the first time in the 48 years *I've* known him that I've heard him describe anyone in such negative terms.

I can't imagine anything I could hear from an arrogant melodramatic asshole that would be a positive life-changing experience. Can you?

Anyone? Please? How is it possible to go to a weekend retreat that you have to pay to be there for, and have an experience with a complete jerk of a human being, and get something of great positive value out of the experience?

More confusing; my Dad thinks that being a jerk is a *necessary characteristic* to being able to lead this kind of weekend; Dad says he can't imagine anyone he could respect being able to do a good job of it. Me, I'm confused. And also ouchy.