My so called midlife crisis

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A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend. He said I should write about my midlife crisis because then we could go on a book tour together and party. I have done things for less noble aims, and really many of my most important decisions in life has been made around parties, what parties I want to go to, what do I want to do when I get to said parties, and who will be at the parties. Similar to the line in Lawerence of Arabia:

Mr. Dryden: Lawrence, only two kinds of creature get fun in the desert: Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me, for ordinary men, it’s a burning, fiery furnace.
T.E. Lawrence: No, Dryden, it’s going to be fun.
Mr. Dryden: It is recognized that you have a funny sense of fun.

I have a particularly definition of fun… it does not align with the majority definition of fun. Most people would not want to go to my parties… and at this stage of my (mid) life crisis. I am really ok with that. I find that as a type of self selection that makes my life easier in determining and and with whom I want to spend my time.

Anyway … I pondered this notion of writing about my midlife crises and the subsequent book tour debauchery. My midlife crisis has gone internal somewhat because of covid, although bubbles up now and again and not terribly narratively exciting ways. But I was not super excited about the idea of writing about my midlife crisis.

At first friends sympathetically assumed that it was because it was too painful. But really it was because it was too boring. I mean I have lived through my midlife crisis. For me it is done. I was saying if I was writing something I want to live in some fantastic world of my imagination or beautiful poetry not in like reinterpreted realism. This to me is boring.

To which my friend said that I should write about my midlife crisis as a fantasy novel. I actually think this is brilliant and hilarious. Granted, probably the readership of fantasy novels (or perhaps sci fi novels) are not interested in reading about this … it is not without precedent. Woman on the Edge of Time by Margie Piercy although not really about a midlife crisis is about a woman in middlish age.

Anyway I love this idea. Rather than a roman a clef fantasy story which seems so common (and also so masculine), what would it look like if a fantasy novel was about someone in a midlife crisis. What if Gandalf turning from grey to white was about individuation. What about Voldemort? Was the mists of avalon about this – I read it so long ago I don’t remember.

Thats it

The Market and The Equation

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I am doing a daily newsletter experiment where each newsletter is a rewrite of a past newsletter.

I use the term rewrite loosely….

Yesterday the rewrite was about economics and I started writing about a distinction that bubbled up in me between the equation and the market.

The equation like F=MA (force = mass * acceleration) is about equality. It is about making sure that the variables on both sides of the equation are equal. This is also about equivalence or mapping. mass * acceleration is equivalent to Force. We can replace one for the other.

The market is about freedom. If we look at the market, like for instance the stock market, we can come up with all sorts of reasons for why a certain stock is valued at a certain price. Perhaps that is the discounted cashflow, perhaps it is in anticipation of growth, perhaps it has some sort of mystique or fetish quality. But at the end of the day a stock price only has value when someone exchanges it at that price. That is why it has that value. There are no equivalences. There is no one to one mapping, there are only a web of interpretations and explanations. What there is is freedom. Actors in the market have the freedom to try buy or sell an item at any price they want, provided they find a willing participant. No one is forcing an actor to buy or sell at a price, the limiting agent is access to capital that powers the buying or selling.

How are Markets and Equations even related – epistemology. They are both ways to know things.

Well if I want to know if I throw a ball where it will land I can use the appropriate equation. If I want to know how much my antique cabinet is worth I can try and sell it in the market. We can broaden the market and call it the arena. An arena is any closed system where agents interact according to rules. The rules of the market are that when a buyer and seller agree on a price ownership changes hands – an exchange happens. If we have an arena like a football game or even a theatrical performance there are other sets of rules that solve other epistemological questions.

Equations we can also think of as goals or targets. My goal may be to act in a certain why that certain qualities are equivalent and I can optimize my actions so that I reduce the error term on my equation.

Agile Sensemaking

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I am giving a talk in a few weeks at it is about sense making and devops.

Sense making is not a new activity but perhaps a new buzz word. Sense making is how we understand the world in order. We can look at this in relation to say Fordist production. The assembly line worker does not have to understand the world. the assembly line worker does to have to understand anything beyond her own task. She does not even have to understand how this fits into the world. The decisions involved in optimizing a Fordist production line have to do with optimization and efficiency. It is an operations research problem. It does not have to make sense of the production line in relation to issues outside the production line, such as sourcing of rare earth elements, pollution caused by finished products, physical issues such as carpal tunnel caused by the products from the assembly line or even physical issues caused by working on the assembly line.

I am going to mention three types of decision making, top down, peer to peer and self-organized (self-soverign). Top down would be traditional hierarchical decision making. These sorts laws remind me of the deontological ethics or value ethics. There is a rule and then people have to follow the rule. Peer to peer decision making, or collective decision making, is sort of what we have in a democracy. However, in its nefarious moments it is like Bentham’s panopticon. These are the laws according to optimization… Mill’s greatest good for the greatest number. Self-soverign is that people make their own decisions that suit them. This is not a law, like Kant’s notion of the Kingdom of ends, where individuals are both subjects and rulers of themselves. For self-organization or self-sovereignty there is no ruling or subjectification – there is only acting with integrity. Every action is the right action. Self-sovereign could also be called agent based decision making. Since each agent is making a decision

How do we become self sovereign? Good Question.

But also what happens if we run processes that used be run according to ideas of hierarchy or peer-to-peer organization shift.

a) What are the benefits

b) What are the organizational shifts

The benefits would be a less fragile system. A hierarchy is fragile, a hierarchy also has a large infrastructure to support it so it is expensive, a hierarchy moves slowly it is not nimble. A peer-to-peer system is more resilient, but it too requires infrastructure, and the peer-to-peer nature does presuppose an architecture, a pipeline that has to be maintained. In an agent or self-organizing, there is no architecture, only the orientation of the agent.

How does this apply to something like a DevOps pipeline or DevOps operations. Well if we imagine the organization of a k8 cluster as either hierarchical or peer-to-peer, what would be an example of self-organizing. What would be an example of a software application that could sense make, as opposed to decision making?

I’ve been thinking about this today in related to this piece by Bonnitta Roy.

What Capital City Are You?

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I have been engaging in a daily newsletter experiment for the last 10 days. I wrote a new newsletter for 7 days and now every day I rewrite the newsletter from 7 days ago. I will probably do this for a month… at least. It is exhausting but it is transformative and becoming less exhausting.

But I still love blogging and I am trying to understand what is the difference between blogging and newslettering. I do enjoy the feedback aspect of the newsletter. Every day I see people read the newsletter, or at least open it, and some people even click on random links.

Today I had my weekly discussion on John V’s the meaning crisis. The facilitator this morning asked what capital city describes your emotional state today.

I loved this question. At first I drew a blank, but then I felt Athens! In my memories it is sun kissed and dry, filled with ruins looking back towards prior greatness, but with confidence in current potential, vitality and beauty. Athens is a city that is filled with meaning. Whatever it is that meaning is… For me it is the triumph of quality over quantity. What does every moment feel like, how is each brick its own singular brick, how is this “ruin” beautiful and singular in its on going “decay” how it is qualitatively different today, than yesterday, different from 100 years ago, 1000 years ago.

Some people said, Helsinki, Buenos Aires, Barcelona… All of these cities bring up a quality for me. They have an emotion, a personality, a singularity. I feel November in Helsinki, dark, cold and bright, blue black. I feel Buenos Aires, music and flow and broad streets, narrow streets, hidden squares and spaces, I feel Barcelona gaudi and the mediterranean and parks filled with pigeons.

In each of these feelings I feel people.