Limbic

Spiritual Unfoldment with John Butler

by Limbic on September 9, 2019

John Butler is a octogenarian spiritual master. He is also an ASMR superstar because of his amazing voice. My wife and I listen to him at bedtime, partly for the wisdom, partly for soporific power of his voice.

His YouTube channel is full of delights. Treat yourselves.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi0TFuqj6eND-mJRf8i2Tnw

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Pi-hole

by Limbic on February 19, 2019

 

Pi-hole is a little open source Linux-based DNS ad blocker that you run on your network to soak up all the ad junk before it hits your browser.

I tried it in a VM and was amazed at the speed difference it made despite the fact I already have uBlock Origin installed in my browsers.

I decided to get a Raspberry Pi 3 from Amazon (the starter kit with Pi, case, micro usb, and power cord). I had Pi-hole installed and configured within a few minutes and it works beautifully. The speed gains are very noticeable.

I strongly recommend this, and encourage anyone who uses it to support the project.

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Jeff Bezos on Day 1 vs Day 2

by Limbic on January 16, 2019

I love this letter from Jeff Bezos and wanted to quote it at length. The full letter is at Recode.

 2016 Letter to Shareholders

April 12, 2017

“Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?”

That’s a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I’ve been reminding people that it’s Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

To be sure, this kind of decline would happen in extreme slow motion. An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.

I’m interested in the question, how do you fend off Day 2? What are the techniques and tactics? How do you keep the vitality of Day 1, even inside a large organization?

Such a question can’t have a simple answer. There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps. I don’t know the whole answer, but I may know bits of it. Here’s a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making.

True Customer Obsession

There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.

Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.

Resist Proxies

As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage to proxies. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s dangerous, subtle, and very Day 2.

A common example is process as proxy. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right. Gulp. It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, “Well, we followed the process.” A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It’s always worth asking, do we own the process or does the process own us? In a Day 2 company, you might find it’s the second.

…Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you’ll find on surveys. They live with the design.

Embrace External Trends

The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.

These big trends are not that hard to spot (they get talked and written about a lot), but they can be strangely hard for large organizations to embrace. We’re in the middle of an obvious one right now: machine learning and artificial intelligence.

High-Velocity Decision Making

Day 2 companies make high-quality decisions, but they make high-quality decisions slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. Easy for start-ups and very challenging for large organizations. The senior team at Amazon is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high. Speed matters in business – plus a high-velocity decision making environment is more fun too. We don’t know all the answers, but here are some thoughts.

First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a light-weight process. For those, so what if you’re wrong?

Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

This isn’t one way. If you’re the boss, you should do this too. I disagree and commit all the time.

…Fourth, recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately. Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views. They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion. Whoever has more stamina carries the decision.

“You’ve worn me down” is an awful decision-making process. It’s slow and de-energizing. Go for quick escalation instead – it’s better.

So, have you settled only for decision quality, or are you mindful of decision velocity too? Are the world’s trends tailwinds for you? Are you falling prey to proxies, or do they serve you? And most important of all, are you delighting customers? We can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. But we have to choose it.

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Japanese “catholic” schooling

by Limbic on December 22, 2018

One of the things I love about my daughters school is their emphasis on created rounded individuals. Academic achievement is important but so is developing character and a moral foundation.

In this article about a Japanese school I saw many overlaps with how Danish schools operate.

“..His Japanese elementary school spent as much time cultivating life skills, or “seikatsuryoku,” as it did on academics. The country takes a holistic approach to educating young children, packing in the scholastics but also instilling traits to be responsible members of society. Think World Cup soccer fans who clean the stadium after cheering a game.

Here are the the non-academic things they emphasize:

1. Being part of a community. One of the key words at his school was “rentai,” or solidarity. …“Aisatsu,” or greetings, were stressed as a way to broach new relationships. Emphasis on teamwork encouraged children to accept one another and taught them to read the status quo and think of how to stay in good standing with the group. 

2. Getting around a new town. All Japanese children go to school on their own.

3. Time management/organization. Japanese children keep track of their assignments by copying into notebooks the list of homework written on the blackboard, etching a to-do list in their minds. Students must also remember what to take to school. 

4. Troubleshooting. Japanese schools have an “integrated studies” period designed to improve problem-solving skills. 

5. Cleaning. Japanese students tidy up their own classrooms.

6. Dining. Japanese students must eat everything that is served for lunch (unless they have allergies). Leaving food is regarded as wasteful and disrespectful to those who prepared the meal. 

7. Handling conflict. At the start of first grade, my son told me he ran from pillar to pillar when moving between classes, taking shelter to avoid a bigger bully boy. He had physical tussles with another boy, rolling around on the classroom floor. The teachers did not intervene unless physical injury or psychological trauma seemed imminent. The school philosophy was to let the kids sort out their own problems. 

8. Endurance.  …His school required either a one- or two-kilometer ocean swim before graduation.

9. Setbacks….He learned that his only choice was to live with his shortcomings or aim higher. He accepted that reality and alternated between the two options. 

This is a lovely list of values to impart. The handling conflict (item 7) is a perfect antidote to the poison of victimhood culture.

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Some conspiracies are real

by Limbic on December 15, 2018

In the 90’s I used to believe any and all conspiracy theories were utter rubbish. Over the years my confidence in my hard skeptic position has diminished.

The first knock came when Echelon turned out to be true. I was told about it by a drunken colleague at British Telecom a few years before it was publicly revealed. The same person also told me about the Five Eyes intelligence agencies tapping the core internet trunks, something Snowden confirmed nearly 20 years later.

Another knock came from the realization that the 40 year war on dietary fat turned out to be misguided at best, if not criminally negligent.

The book and later film the Merchants of Doubt exposed the unbelievable scale and boldness of the industrial disinformation campaigns waged against us all.

Recently I witnessed an anti-conspiracy staple take a fatal hit. “Conspiracies cannot be real because people cannot keep secrets”. I used to believe this until I was involved in the recent Specter and Meltdown response. For months, hundreds of not thousands of security professionals across the industry worked together – conspired – in total secrecy, to patch all major operating systems against the vulnerabilities.

Now it seems like every week I am hearing about conspiracy theories that turn out to be true.

Today the “baby powder causes cancer” conspiracy theorists appear to have been right. Reuters has revealed that the company did indeed find asbestos in some of its talk products as far back as 1971. I can remember dismissing that one too.

There are two good books that address this topic.

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The Russel Conjugation

by Limbic on November 24, 2018

Eric R. Weinstein on The Russel Conjugation:

The basic principle of Russell Conjugation is that the human mind is constantly looking ahead well beyond what is true or false to ask “What is the social consequence of accepting the facts as they are?”  While this line of thinking is obviously self-serving, we are descended from social creatures who could not safely form opinions around pure facts so much as around how those facts are presented to us by those we ape, trust or fear. Thus, as listeners and readers our minds generally mirror the emotional state of the source, while in our roles as authoritative narrators presenting the facts, we maintain an arsenal of language to subliminally instruct our listeners and readers on how we expect them to color their perceptions. Russell discussed this by putting three such presentations of a common underlying fact in the form in which a verb is typically conjugated:

  • I am firm. [Positive empathy]
  • You are obstinate. [Neutral to mildly negative empathy]
  • He/She/It is pigheaded.  [Very negative empathy]

In all three cases, Russell was describing people who did not readily change their minds. Yet by putting these descriptions so close together and without further factual information to separate the individual cases, we were forced to confront the fact that most of us feel positively towards the steadfast narrator and negatively towards the pigheaded fool, all without any basis in fact.

…If we accept that Russell Conjugation keeps us from even seeing that we do not hold consistent opinions on facts, we see a possible new answer to a puzzle that dates from the birth of the web: “If the internet democratized information, why has its social impact been so much slower than many of us expected?” Assuming that our actions are based not on what we know but upon how we feel about what we know, we see that traditional media has all but lost control of gate-keeping our information, but not yet how it is emotively shaded. In fact, it is relatively simple to write a computer program to crawl factually accurate news stories against a look-up table of Russell conjugates to see the exact bias of every supposedly objective story.

Thus the answer to the puzzle of our inaction it seems may be that we built an information superhighway for all, but neglected to build an empathy network alongside it to democratize what we feel.”

https://www.edge.org/response-detail/27181

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Do not lie to yourself

by Limbic on November 24, 2018

image

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky

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Everyone IS laughing at you

by Limbic on November 24, 2018

http://isnthappiness.com/?p=36240

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Seven Moral Rules Found All Around the World

by Limbic on August 12, 2018

These seven moral rules – love your family, help your group, return favors, be brave, defer to authority, be fair, and respect others’ property – appear to be universal across cultures.

Source: Seven Moral Rules Found All Around the World – The Evolution Institute

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Orwell on Liberty

by Limbic on August 11, 2018

George Orwell once said that “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

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