Snapshots: Power and Surrender

Three items that caught my eye as they’ve floated by this month, presented here without comment.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, as interviewed in the New York Times Magazine:

NYT: After hearing a story about Foursquare’s co-founder, Dennis Crowley, walking into a press event in athletic wear and eating a banana, I developed a theory that bubbles might be predicted by fashion:  when tech founders can’t be bothered to appear businesslike, the power has shifted too much in their favor.

Andreessen: Believe it or not, this goes deep into the interior mentality of the engineer, which is very truth-oriented.  When you’re dealing with machines or anything that you build, it either works or it doesn’t, no matter how good of a salesman you are.  So engineers not only don’t care about the surface appearance, but they view attempts to kind of be fake on the surface as fundamentally dishonest.

NYT: That reminds me of Mark Zuckerberg’s criticism of ‘‘The Social Network.’’  He said that ‘‘filmmakers can’t get their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things.’’

Andreessen: Aaron Sorkin was completely unable to understand the actual psychology of Mark or of Facebook.  He can’t conceive of a world where social status or getting laid or, for that matter, doing drugs, is not the most important thing.

Blogger Al Schumann, with this one-off gem at Stop Me Before I Vote Again:

My first experience of corporate job life was shocking.  I expected to be harvested for whatever sad amount of value could be gleaned from my labor, but I did not expect an emotional freak show.  That’s what it was, however.  The neurotic miasma was fetid, dank, palpable.  The place was a sweatshop for vampiric jockeying and resentment.  Stool pigeons exchanged snide barbs with Stakhanovites.  Passive aggressive people “accidentally” obstructed each other.  Each little boss had a bigger boss that upon him fed.  The senior management scored arcane points and forced rivals out in what amounted to a pecking party.  The social costs were (are) so high that no value was produced at all.  Although the place did make a stab at putting profits on paper.

It eventually occurred to me that profit was secondary to the corporate purpose.  They’re closer to mini-states in function; vehicles for power.  A CEO can be utterly worthless in performing ostensible duties and still be able to count on another berth, or at the very least a set of compensatory sinecures.  The sense of grandiose victimhood they evince when they tank an outfit is completely sincere.  They’ve been wronged!

A high-profile commenter at Lisa Jo Rudy’s autism pages, as pointed to in @stevesilberman‘s Twitter feed:

Anti-vaccine advocate insists that #autism
acceptance and accommodation equals

[image via Flickr/Creative Commons]

on 07/15/11 in Autism, featured | No Comments | Read More

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