Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Kruse's Key: Read "Hawaii" to Unlock the Islands Before Your Visit

In 2009, I married my beautiful bride on Poipu Beach in Kauai.  Since that visit, the Hawaiian islands have held a special place in my heart.  During idle moments, I confess to plugging the location of Kauai into job search sites and crossing my fingers for a non-engineering job to pop up.  Since 2009 we’ve returned to Kauai several times and prior to our most recent trip this past summer I decided to finally dive into Michener’s 1000 page tale Hawaii.  


First published in 1959 (the year of Hawaiian statehood), Hawaii definitely comes across a little dated in its style but Michener nonetheless proves that he can craft an engrossing tale as he spans the physical birth of the Hawaiian islands eons ago up to it fight for statehood.  Hawaii begins its narrative with the first impossible ocean-spanning voyages of men and women from Tahiti.
2017-11-14_13-58-21.png


From there we witness the tribal fight to consolidate power throughout the islands and then see the natives first interaction with New England missionaries.  From there Michener deftly juxtaposes the lives of consecutives generations of earnest but severe missionaries with those of lusty and wayward whalers and traders.  The narrative carries on as we see the immigration of Chinese and Japanese settlers and their eventual integration into the social, economic and political life of Hawaii over the span of two World Wars and an eventual quest for statehood.  


One assumes (with even cursory research) that Michener took a multitude of historical liberties in the writing of this tome but upon finishing it I was okay with that.  Hawaii is an engrossing novel that encourages the reader to learn more about it actual history (I’ve included some links to do just that in a section below.


KEY QUOTES:
  • “In later years, it would become fashionable to say of the missionaries, "They came to the islands to do good, and they did right well." Others made jest of the missionary slogan, "They came to a nation in darkness; they left it in light," by pointing out: "Of course they left Hawaii lighter. They stole every goddamned thing that wasn't nailed down.”
  • “It is difficult to be king when the gods are changing.”
  • “no man leaves where he is and seeks a distant place unless he is in some respect a failure; but having failed in one location and having been ejected, it is possible that in the next he will be a little wiser.”
  • “Why is it, Reverend Hale, that we must always laugh at our book, but always revere yours?”
  • “Patriotism is not a matter of the skin’s color. It is a matter of the heart.”
  • “You love the Hawaiians as potential Christians, but you despise them as people. I am proud to say that I have come to exactly the opposite conclusion, and it is therefore appropriate that I should be expelled from a mission where love is not.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • Differences between Chinese and Japanese assimilation. At least initially the Chinese were more willing to intermarry with the local populace.  Whereas the Japanese workers held out hope to return to Japan one day and marry someone from their village.  
2017-11-14_13-44-56.png
  • Very broad generalizations but the Chinese were the first to develop and integrate into the economy through business and trade whereas the Japanese were the first to integrate into the political scene.
  • Notably, the book doesn’t address the other large immigrant/worker populations such as the Filipinos, Koreans, and Puerto Ricans.  
  • Considerable remittances were paid back to homelands by the worker populations
  • There was a very wide variance in missionary experience in Hawaii’s history.  An interesting part of that covered in the book was that of their ministry to lepers on the island of Molokai.  

  • The genetic makeup in Hawaii is pretty interesting--what one might think of as a typical Hawaiian is likely nothing like a pure “Hawaiian” that first inhabited the islands.
  • Statehood was never a foregone conclusion for Hawaii.  There were a lot of “sugar” senators from the continental US that didn’t want the competition--the importance of sugar can’t be understated in the arc of Hawaii’s history..  Additionally, there was a fair amount of racism prevalent that sought to keep the “uncivilized” nation-state out of the Union.  
  • The Dole pineapple that we eat today only came after generations of experimentation and trial and error.  The history of the Hawaiian pineapple alone could fill a book.
  • Palm trees from Madagascar were brought in and planted in Kauai at some point.  This is noted in the book but I haven’t been able to find any other info to verify this on the interwebs.  


KEY REFERENCES:
Those seeking more robust scholarship on Hawaii’s history and it’s immigrant experience could explore the following articles and books:


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Kruse's Key: Read "Transit" to Understand the Tension Between Hatred and Yearning (Djibouti)

As you can probably guess there’s not exactly a ton of Djibouti fiction out there, especially en anglais.  But when it comes to Djibouti fiction, the author Waberi reigns supreme.  He’s written a lot to the extent where most of his novels have been translated from French to English.  


The translators, Dave and Nicole Ball, in particular, did a splendid job putting into English the patois of one of the narrators, an uneducated ex-soldier named Bashir.  The challenge to take french urban african slang and put it into English without making it sound like American urban slang is considerable but the Balls nailed it.

Transit interweaves Bashir’s story with that of Harbi (a member of the opposition intellectual elite) and his family.  While waiting at the Paris airport, the two men reveal their life stories as the narrative arc builds toward their intersection.  The novel’s plot is pretty well done so I won’t reveal much beyond what I mentioned thus far.

The staying power of this story comes from Waberi’s deft touch as he tackles the complexity of his country’s history and current political situation through the alternating monologues. This allows him to playfully jab at the idea of Djibouti’s democracy on one hand, calling it “that hot air of politicians who take bread from whoever giving it”, while also laud the Djiboutian people’s strength on the other with his admonition: “LET'S NOT FORGET that we never accepted the domination of the colonizers. Even when faced with a fait accompli and the law of the strongest, we resisted silently, secretly. Luckily, we had enough space to fall back on, unlike countries with greater population density like Burundi or Rwanda, where the Catholic church recorded its highest evangelization scores in the world. We could retreat into the brush, unseen and unheard. And above all, no official papers. Thus, what seemed to be the most generous acts of the administration, like the vaccination campaigns, were ignored if not massively rejected. Villages, schools, or cities—we rejected them. We preferred our rustic life.”

KEY QUOTES:
  • “Democracy, that hotair of politicians who take bread from whoever giving it.” (11)
  • “The president left with head of diplomacy to get the asshole general that used to be his true-true friend before, when they making restoration together. Together they knew how to conjugate the verb have, not the verb to be.” (12)
  • “I navigate easily between different languages, historical references, cultures, rumors from yesterday still warm today, and the oldest memories. Totally natural, I'm the product of love without borders; I'm a hyphen between two worlds.” (34)
  • “Poets approaching death commonly become prophets.” (44)
  • “LET'S NOT FORGET that we never accepted the domination of the colonizers. Even when faced with a fait accompli and the law of the strongest, we resisted silently, secretly. Luckily, we had enough space to fall back on, unlike countries with greater population density like Burundi or Rwanda, where the Catholic church recorded its highest evangelization scores in the world. We could retreat into the brush, unseen and unheard. And above all, no official papers. Thus, what seemed to be the most generous acts of the administration, like the vaccination campaigns, were ignored if not massively rejected. Villages, schools, or cities—we rejected them. We preferred our rustic life.” (54)
  • “The Angel gave the Prophet in a cave on Mount Hira. It said: “Iqrah! Recite!” From this verb comes the word Koran, recitation. At that time, reading, or recitation, was something very different from the present droning of the Word weakened by narrow minds, often bearded. Iqrah, recite and think by yourself, expand your knowledge; seek, in the bottom of your heart, the path that leads to The Unique.” (61)
  • “Africa would come to me all by herself, like a big girl. Alas, my little cactus, it was not the rebellious continent, just the Africa of news reports as they're filtered through the clear conscience of the West. Then it became the Africa of dictators with Swiss bank accounts, the Africa of rickety children and bony old men, the Africa of famine and the shameless looting of its resources, the Africa of squalid huts and gleaming white teeth, the Africa of landless people, the Africa of guerrillas and desperados.” (70)
  • “Since the beginning of time, we—that is, me and all my colleagues working in Guistir, the region of the three borders (Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia) that saw me born—haven't needed official documents to accompany that melody, to catch it at its birth, at the time when the cold desert night is separated from the reseda-yellow light of dawn. No member of our army of border guards, called ANG,1 has an authentic birth certificate; we were all “born circa…” Because nomadic time is not regulated by any calendar or encumbered by any archive, it does not sign the official papers demanded by the goatees of the Third Republic. Everybody was “born circa” in my time, and only the intrusion of the French colonial administration could impose such a delicate intention on us. For our own good, of course with some exceptional periods, like the English blockade under Churchill, which plunged the Territory, governed by the Vichy regime with an iron hand, into the depths of hunger and thirst. During that blockade, the people of this country tasted bitter roots and cat bouillon: the memory of that time is still tattooed on them to this day.” (98)
  • “Do not call me a mulatto, a métis. Metis was the first wife of Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. She died horribly.” (103)
  • “As I think of Him, I immediately open myself to Him, to pray serenely. To chant, with my eyes closed in ecstasy, the ninety-nine names of the very holy Prophet. That is how I regain peace of mind and body.” (111)

KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • The section on the novel that mentions the lack of official documents rang especially true given my own experience in Comoros (p. 98).  During the beginning of my tour in Madagascar, when I was cutting travel orders for different Comorian military officers to train the US, I was dumbfounded to learn that so many them were born on 31 December. That is until one of them later shared with me that most of the older generation didn’t know the actual day they were born so they just picked a day, and most picked 31 December.  
  • One can’t underestimate the significance of France’s influence on most of its former colonies.  Its latent presence is embedded in the psyche of the countries’ citizens.  It manifests itself as both a hatred and a yearning--a hatred that France should still attempt to wield any influence but also a yearning as a place to which one could escape to a better life (yes, this is a vast oversimplification--I am just brainstorming here).

KEY PAIRING:
Jelloun's tragic Morocca tale Leaving Tangier; read my take on it here.

KEY REFERENCES:
Location: 45
The chapters in Transit are a succession of monologues by each of the characters in the novel: Bashir, a very young veteran of Djibouti's civil war; Harbi, a Djiboutian intellectual and an opponent of the regime; Harbi's French wife, Alice, and their son, Abdo-Julien; and Abdo-Julien's grandfather Awaleh.

Location: 49
One character gives us the same kind of pleasure we have in reading great tragicomic works of literature: Bashir, the poor, adolescent ex-soldier. His monologues are delivered in a slangy, comical language very much his own, a mix of naïveté and sly,

Location: 91
Waberi is one of the leading francophone writers of his generation, internationally recognized, one of those to whom the French novelist J. M. G. Le Clézio dedicated his Nobel Prize for Literature in his acceptance speech. Translated

Location: 96
for his latest novel, published in 2011, Passage des larmes (Passage of Tears),

Page: 6
people think migrants arrive naked in a new land at the end of their odyssey; yet migrants are loaded with their personal stories and heavier still with what is called collective history.

Page: 7
One day, as I was walking with my aunt along one of the avenues in our neighborhood, I passed by a military patrol. Like a chrysalis about to burst, the question popped out instantly: “Who are those people?” “The French, our colonizers.” “Why are they here?” “Because they're stronger than we are.”

Page: 8
I'm not afraid of nothing, not even foreigners (oh no! am I off my rocker or what? the foreigners, that's us now, the natives here, it's them).

Page: 11
Democracy, that hotair of politicians who take bread from whoever giving it.

Page: 12
Then, the president left with head of diplomacy to get the asshole general that used to be his true-true friend before, when they making restoration together. Together they knew how to conjugate the verb have, not the verb to be.

Page: 16
fauna; the tragic, camel-like swaying of its hips; the aquatic flora pictured on postage stamps; the desert islets like the famous Guinni Koma (also called l'île du Diable, Devil's Island by the French). I can feel its salt on my body. I am this pit like a wounded vulva between the hills. You'd think she was reading from a geography textbook. Yes, everything here is mine. The salt lakes, the bald peaks, the whimsical firmament at Lake Assal, the small forest from times long past, the limestone high plateaus, the Grand Bara and Petit Bara, the main summit culminating
at almost seven thousand feet. The bitter waters and their extraordinary salinity. The liquid heart of the gulf, its solitude crenellated with waves. Her world forever inviolable. This is my country stirring the air just like the lyre palm and the traveler tree dragging its exiles over the crust of the earth. My country running breathlessly, endlessly. My country sad and beautiful like the oilcloth of a village café in Brittany on a rainy Sunday morning. My dad and I would burst out laughing. She's stubborn and endearing. And there she goes now, changing the subject and the textbook. From geography to history. My country's history in the annals of the continent? Barely room for a lowly footnote at the bottom of a page. Seventy thousand square miles of hatred and misery, my country of ergs and acacias. She's flying off the handle now, excited as a young goat.

Page: 18
They'd laugh and joke in rhythm; they're sure good at that, bigger jokers you won't find.

Page: 23
African heads of state like so-so much Israeli bodyguards cause Israeli bodyguards they protect from military coup like rubber protect from AIDS you get me?

Page: 27
My mother, with her hair twisted together like those sentences of Monsieur Proust that no one can unravel, fears neither the sunburns that knock off foreigners with delicate skin nor the narrow little streets covered with dust. As a child I was fed on the milk of love, and reading.

Page: 31
To get back on subject. Oh yah I was saying: Wadags or not Wadags, not the problem. All that's politics, I'm telling you. In a lot of neighborhoods of the capital, in Einguela, Ambouli, Districts 1, 2, 4, Plateau, etc. Wadags, Walals, an Arabs, we all mixed, with plenty Hindis an even some Whites married to our girls, or just weirdos. And then, in the Dikhil district, between Wadags an the others it's fifty-fifty (that English, I speak it a little-little. Learned it when I worked in front of the American Embassy, I'll tell you about that later. I know how to talk English an that's that, OK?).

Page: 31
Problem is dirty tricks, corruption an politics. You know, Restoration!

Page: 34
Oum Kalsoum giving a masterly interpretation of Anta Oumri: sixty minutes of pure bliss.

Page: 34
I navigate easily between different languages, historical references, cultures, rumors from yesterday still warm today, and the oldest memories. Totally natural, I'm the product of love without borders; I'm a hyphen between two worlds.

Page: 35
Serge Gainsbourg's Dieu est un fumeur de havanes (“God is a smoker of Havanas”).

Page: 40
now it's haga* (that Djibouti summer, sun it hot lead melting on your skull, even the asphalt on the road yell mama mama I'm too-too melted). Haga, too fierce.

Page: 44
Poets approaching death commonly become prophets.

Page: 48
the same old stories of bloodshed, poisoned wells, kidnapped fiancées, raids on zebus, and vendettas between rival clans.

Page: 49
A baby face because it's only after they've reached forty-four that men here are fully entitled to be called an adult, your grandfather would have said in his gentle voice.

Page: 49
A sand-yellow territory on a sky-blue background, and all around it the four colonialists (France, Great Britain, Italy, and Ethiopia) who cut up the land of the sons of Samaale.

Page: 59
LET'S NOT FORGET that we never accepted the domination of the colonizers. Even when faced with a fait accompli and the law of the strongest, we resisted silently, secretly. Luckily, we had enough space to fall back on, unlike countries with greater population density like Burundi or Rwanda, where the Catholic church recorded its highest evangelization scores in the world. We could retreat into the brush, unseen and unheard. And above all, no official papers. Thus, what seemed to be the most generous acts of the administration, like the vaccination campaigns, were ignored if not massively rejected. Villages, schools, or cities—we rejected them. We preferred our rustic life.

Page: 59
got caught up in the game and first sent a little boy, some little orphan, to their school just out of curiosity. Then the youngest boy of the family, then the middle son, and finally the eldest, the keeper of the flock. But what could the children be doing all day? ventured the most skeptical. Faithful as the evening stars, they went to the same place every day, remaining seated, filling out little spiral notebooks with the district chief's stamp on them, and came back a few years later with a salary, without breaking their backs. Their fathers immediately opened up a store. From then on, they would rent out the donkey they used to lend. Little by little, they cut themselves off from their clan, spoke about their ancestors for no good reason, and were reluctant to give out alms. They shut themselves off from the others and saw only people like themselves, or passing foreigners like the nurse or the stationmaster, French from France or Greeks. And finally the truck driver replaced the camel driver, already threatened by the train.

Page: 61
the Angel gave the Prophet in a cave on Mount Hira. It said: “Iqrah! Recite!” From this verb comes the word Koran, recitation. At that time, reading, or recitation, was something very different from the present droning of the Word weakened by narrow minds, often bearded. Iqrah, recite and think by yourself, expand your knowledge; seek, in the bottom of your heart, the path that leads to The Unique.

Page: 69
The Théâtre des Salines is where we play for the working people of the neighborhoods.

Page: 70
Africa would come to me all by herself, like a big girl. Alas, my little cactus, it was not the rebellious continent, just the Africa of news reports as they're filtered through the clear conscience of the West. Then it became the Africa of dictators with Swiss bank accounts, the Africa of rickety children and bony old men, the Africa of famine and the shameless looting of its resources, the Africa of squalid huts and gleaming white teeth, the Africa of landless people, the Africa of guerrillas and desperados.

Page: 78
Dixit the Breton storyteller Maria Kermadec, who often concludes her ramblings with a proverb she attributes to a sailor from Cancale: “He who has words in his mouth can never get lost in the world.”

Page: 79
Abdo-Julien, that's me, stillborn in his seventeenth year, spirit wandering in the great tradition of the dibbuks you can find in The Golem, a small child returning periodically like the abikou* in the region of the Gulf of Guinea whose umbilical cord is buried next to Ilé-Ifé—an extraordinary fate, in the direct line of the shafeec* of our people. I owe everything I know to my parents. Does that surprise you?

Page: 87
And the little tree of memory, can you guess? The cactus. That's you, my little cactus.

Page: 97
The most gifted of us had the power to put the deepest song of the earth into words, wary of the small change of everyday words, a song that wells up from its belly, song of the slow crossing, a song unfolding to infinity.

Page: 98
Since the beginning of time, we—that is, me and all my colleagues working in Guistir, the region of the three borders (Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia) that saw me born—haven't needed official documents to accompany that melody, to catch it at its birth, at the time when the cold desert night is separated from the reseda-yellow light of dawn. No member of our army of border guards, called ANG,1 has an authentic birth certificate; we were all “born circa…” Because nomadic time is not regulated by any calendar or encumbered by any archive, it does not sign the official papers demanded by the goatees of the Third Republic. Everybody was “born circa” in my time, and only the intrusion of the French colonial administration could impose such a delicate intention on us. For our own good, of course with some exceptional periods, like the English blockade under Churchill, which plunged the Territory, governed by the Vichy regime with an iron hand, into the depths of hunger and thirst. During that blockade, the people of this country tasted bitter roots and cat bouillon: the memory of that time is still tattooed on them to this day.

Page: 100
They suffer under our sun. They die under our moon, knowing the extreme urgency of the creative act. They are from no place. They tell time. They tell destiny.

Page: 103
FALL 1892. They were exhibiting Ka'lina Amerindians from French Guyana completely naked in a Parisian park at the same time as our grandfathers in traditional dress, gathered in a flimsy hut indicating their generic name—Somalis—in the Zoological Garden of Acclimation. Take the Chemins de fer de l'Ouest, the Western Railroad, and get off at Porte Maillot station, said the poster announcing the attraction in all the French newspapers. All that memory is available with one little click.

Page: 103
“Do not call me a mulatto, a métis. Metis was the first wife of Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. She died horribly.”

Page: 111
As I think of Him, I immediately open myself to Him, to pray serenely. To chant, with my eyes closed in ecstasy, the ninety-nine names of the very holy Prophet. That is how I regain peace of mind and body.




Thursday, November 9, 2017

Kruse's Keys: Read Chaos Monkeys for a Primer on the Tech/Startup World in Silicon Valley and beyond

Chaos Monkeys is a book bulging with so much saucy insider details that you feel a little guilty reading it.  I always enjoy pairing recommendations when it comes to books and I'd recommend pairing this one with Horowitz's The Hard Thing About Hard Things which I wrote about here.  The combination of the two books serve as a great introduction to anyone interested in the tech industry and entrepreneurship.  I point this out in particular for any transitioning vets looking in that direction.

Notably, readers will find Chaos Monkeys of particular value if they are looking to get into the weeds of starting their own company, launching an idea, or courting investors--this book is literally chocked full with essential information.

Beyond that, however, there was much lacking in Martinez' life choices (in my personal opinion).  He doesn't delve to far into it, but he made very deliberate choices over being present as a father to his daughter early on in the book and rationalizes his absences as better for her.  All that to say, don't expect to finish the book feeling great about the story--which is more an indictment of the rather sordid way things are done in Silicon Valley than of the author himself.


Key Quotes:
  • "To paraphrase [Marc Andreesen], in the future there will be two types of jobs: people who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what they will do." (25)
  • "If your idea is any good, it won't get stolen, you'll have to jam it down people's throats instead." (49)
  • "When confronted with any startup idea, ask yourself one simple question: How many miracles have to happen for this to succeed?" (50).  
  • "Love is grand, but hate and fear last longer." Martinez commenting what drives people to his conception of greatness, whether it be to prove someone wrong or to protect oneself or family (166).
  • "If we don't create the thing that kills Facebook, someone else will." From one of last pages in a book distributed to all Facebook employees by Zuckerberg (343).
  • "This was one of the very reasons for working at Facebook.  Everyone got their show in the end."  Martinez describing a Facebook gala (370).
Key Takeaways:

  •  Useful read for any veteran transitioning to the tech/entrepreneur/business sector.  It gives a good reality check as to how things work.
  • Done is always better than good (294)
  • Every large company (with leverage) sucks out the information it needs for development by taking meetings with smaller companies and partners and figuring out how to hack it (390). 
  • Martinez captures the truth of how IPOs work rather succinctly in about a page summary (418). 
  •  Good ideas aren't as valuable as the team behind them, especially in the early startup stages (49).   Incidentally, you should start by reading the How to Start a Startup Blog post by Paul Graham (48).    You should also note his admonition that most successful startups only require one miracle (e.g., like Airbnb getting people to rent out their spare bedrooms to total strangers) (50). 
  •  If you've got an interview coming up at a tech company or an application at the Y Combinator, you should be able to answer the question: What non-computer system have you hacked? (52)


Key References (2016 softcover edition)

WOW Info:
p. 70  Tech and H1B visa-like servitude
p. 81  Key words pricing and screwing over slimy lawyers
p. 311 On Sheryl Sandberg, longtime COO at Facebook:  "the woman knew how to run a roomful of big names and even bigger egos."
p. 314-5  Ads security and lack of porn in your feed
p. 318  New Zealand as test nation for new FB products
p. 328-9  FB buys your data, it doesn't sell it
p. 355  equivalence in extremes of cap and communism:  The people's republic of FB
p. 358-9  Difference between early and late stage employees
P. 376-7  LOX Logout screen importance
p. 386  opportunity for direct mail conversion to digital
p. 390  How things work in development
p. 418  How IPOs work

Ideas:
p. 49  Good ones never stolen
p. 50   Startups and miracles
p. 51  Importance of the pivot
p. 83  last mile of advertising still not cracked
p. 88  need a CEO in a startup--you can't go 50/50
p. 294  role of product managers
p. 296  importance of choosing metrics because that's what people work to
p. 305-6  lifestyle mortgage/hack with self over family
p. 321  on being technical as a PM

Interview Questions:
p. 52  What non-computer system have you hacked?

Terms:
p. 47   Hacking: as understood by the technical worker
p. 43   Dog fooding: using one's own product
p. 19   CDS--credit default swap
p. 103  Chaos monkey:
p. 113-5  The "cap"
p. 116  Diltuion: as an entrepreneurs biggest enemy
p. 129  Carry: VC titles: what matters is whether they earn "carry"
p.269  Facebook written in PHP.
p. 317  A buck: a million dollars for the Wall Street types
p. 318  A/B Testing: a select audience gets the new version to work out the kinks.  New Zealand is commonly used for this by tech companies
p. 361  Cognitive dissonance: used to explain Facebook's initial marketing failures
p. 455 Technical debt: the shortcut dirty technical code work necessary in software development but which has to be paid off eventually.

Startups:
p. 83  Real problems are always people problems
p. 294  done is always better than good

Rabbit Hole/Name Dropping:
Don FaulLinkedIn Profile.  "He resembled a more strapping version of Don Draper" that's about as good of an endorsement as you can get from Martinez.  Former marine, then manager of online ops at FB in Chaos Monkeys--now CEO of Athos (an athlete training system) (312)
A16Z Podcast interview between Faul and Andreesen

Vic Gundotra--Author of google plus--when he left google, it was a signal that Facebook had won and Google was out of the 'social' game.  He's now the CEO of AliveCor (wearable ECG tech): LinkedIn Profile (443, 493)

Malcom MacLean: Inventor of the intermodal shipping container.  Martinez compares this with how internet advertising normal works--except for "native ad formats" which big companies like Facebook and Twitter can demand--these require special containers (447)
Malcolm McLean: Savior of the Shipping Industry  (314)

Paul Graham: Martinez calls him the smart tech investor ever and he was the initial made the enabled AdGrok to make it. (157)
About a million Paul Graham articles/essays
10 Things I Learned From Paul Graham at the Y Combinator
How to Start a Startup Blog post by Paul Graham

Sam Altman:  Head of Y-Combinator at time of the book's publishing.  "You could parachute him into an island full of cannibals and come back in five years and he'd be the king" -Paul Graham (160-161)  Crunchbase Profile

Chamath Palihapitiya:  "One of the men most responsible for Facebook's success.  Also a competitive poker player.  His intro speech to new employees carried the taglines:  Make an Impact, Get In Over Your Head, Done is Better Than Perfect.  LinkedIn Profile (265)

Jessica Livingston: Wife of Paul Graham and YC partner.  Her book Founders at Work is mentioned as mandatory reading by Martinez.














Saturday, November 4, 2017

Kruse's Keys: Read 'Shop Class as Soulcraft' To Expand Your Notions of What "Work" Is (Crawford)

First let me caveat this review by saying that I listened to Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (2009) as an audiobook and consequently didn't have the opportunity to take any notes or make highlights.  And with a book this dense, I'd normally be taking a lot of highlights.   While there was a lot of good and thoughtful information presented in this book many of the early chapters were too theoretical and philosophical for my taste.  If felt like a bit like I was listening to the literature review and background section of a thesis.  But then again, Crawford has a Ph.D. in philosophy so this deep dive is to be expected.


That said, I can’t recommend someone spend time reading this book in its entirety, rather I’d recommend you check it out from your local library and read Chapters 2, 6, and 8.  Truthfully, I expected the story of a think tank/academic Ph.D. turned motorcycle mechanic to be a bit more thrilling of a read.  Ultimately, if one can get past much of Crawford’s deep marxist philosophical discussion, there is much to be gleaned from his push back against the automatic glorification of higher level education versus acquisition of a trade or craft.  Whether admitted openly or not, society tends to looks down up the trades.  Crawford illustrates clear, however, the beauty and transcendent value of our plumbers, electricians, mechanics and craftsmen.  


KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • The United States has gone from a country of ‘makers’ (i.e., tradesmen, inventors, creators) to cubicle automatons.  
  • Chapter 2: The Separation of Thinking From Doing
    • On college: Approach college by going deep into liberal arts and sciences in you have four years and a deep attraction for knowledge and learning but if not there’s still a wealth of “doing” jobs out there.
  • Chapter 6:  The Contradictions of the Cubicle
    • On the language of management as an indicator of the manipulation of the worker a la Soviet bureaucracy
    • The rise of teamwork and its link to corporate culture
    • The present corporate work culture and emphasis on office speech and things like diversity and sensitivity training arise in organizations that don’t produce a tangible product
    • Value and strength of the apprentice-master relationship
  • Chapter 8: Work, Leisure, and Full Management
    • US has clear separating functions of political power but has conversely allowed for consolidation of economic power.  
KEY QUOTES:
  • “When the point of education becomes the production of credentials rather than the cultivation of knowledge, it forfeits the motive recognized by Aristotle: "All human beings by nature desire to know.”
  • “A decline in tool use would seem to betoken a shift in our relationship to our own stuff: more passive and more dependent. And indeed, there are fewer occasions for the kind of spiritedness that is called forth when we take things in hand for ourselves, whether to fix them or to make them. What ordinary people once made, they buy; and what they once fixed for themselves, they replace entirely or hire an expert to repair, whose expert fix often involves replacing an entire system because some minute component has failed.”
  • l,; “The current educational regime is based on a certain view about what kind of knowledge is important: “knowing that,” as opposed to “knowing how.”
  • l“The rise of “teamwork” has made it difficult to trace individual responsibility,”


KEY REFERENCES:
Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century:

KEY PAIRING: