u-ni-ver-sal set by notthisbody
This is an excerpt from an older but brilliant article written in 2009 on the history and fallacy of management consulting.
Odering people around, which used to be just a way to get things done, was elevated to a science in October of 1910, when Louis Brandeis, a fifty-three-year-old lawyer from Boston, held a meeting at an apartment in New York with a bunch of experts who, at Brandeis’s urging, decided to call what they were experts at “scientific management.” Everyone there—including Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, best known today as the parents in “Cheaper by the Dozen”—had contracted “Tayloritis”: they were enthralled by an industrial engineer from Philadelphia named Frederick Winslow Taylor, who had been ordering people around, scientifically, for years. Speedy Taylor, as he was called, had invented a new way to make money. He would get himself hired by some business; spend a while watching people work, stopwatch and slide rule in hand; write a report telling them how to do their work faster; and then submit an astronomical bill for his services. He is the “Father of Scientific Management” (it says so on his tombstone), and, by any rational calculation, the grandfather of management consulting.
Casting pig iron, Iroquois smelter, Chicago
Whether he was also a shameless fraud is a matter of some debate, but not, it must be said, much: it’s difficult to stage a debate when the preponderance of evidence falls to one side. In “The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting It Wrong” (Norton; $27.95), Matthew Stewart points out what Taylor’s enemies and even some of his colleagues pointed out, nearly a century ago: Taylor fudged his data, lied to his clients, and inflated the record of his success. As it happens, Stewart did the same things during his seven years as a management consultant; fudging, lying, and inflating, he says, are the profession’s stock-in-trade. Stewart had just finished a D.Phil. at Oxford in philosophy when he took a job rigging spreadsheets to tell companies whose business he barely understood how to trim costs, and he feels sullied by it. This gives his acerbic account an edgy urgency, but you begin to wonder, given how he felt about it, why he stuck with it for so long (the money, the money). Anyway, now he’s blowing the whistle, telling entertaining and slightly shocking stories, like the one about how his boss taught his twenty-something trainees—Stewart reports that one in six graduating seniors at élite colleges is recruited to work in management-consulting firms—how to conduct a “two-handed regression”: “When a scatter plot failed to show the significant correlation between two variables that we all knew was there, he would place a pair of meaty hands over the offending clouds of data points and thereby reveal the straight line hiding from conventional mathematics.” Management consulting isn’t a science, Stewart says; it’s a party trick.
Read full article here
bicameral state of mind + logos #learnonenewthing
as defined in Wikipedia
Bicameralism (the philosophy of “two-chamberedness”) is a hypothesis in psychology that argues that the human mind once assumed a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be “speaking”, and a second part which listens and obeys—a bicameral mind. The term was coined bypsychologist Julian Jaynes, who presented the idea in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, wherein he made the case that a bicameral mentality was the normal and ubiquitous state of the human mind only as recently as 3000 years ago.
Jaynes further argues that divination, prayer and oracles arose during this breakdown period, in an attempt to summon instructions from the “gods” whose voices could no longer be heard. The consultation of special bicamerally operative individuals, or of casting lots and so forth, was a response to this loss, a transitional era depicted for example in the book of 1 Samuel. It was also evidenced in children who could communicate with the gods, but as their neurology was set by language and society they gradually lost that ability. Those who continued prophesying, being bicameral according to Jaynes, could be killed. Leftovers of the bicameral mind today, according to Jaynes, include religion, hypnosis, possession, schizophrenia and the general sense of need for external authority in decision-making.
What are dreams made out of?
Nightwalker - Taylor McFerrin for TK Wonder
At last–-through centuries of changes and centuries of ideas about the changes-–one glimpses a dénouement on the horizon. With his early development of what Regis Debray has called “mediology,” Cornelius Castoriadis gives Susz the springboard he needs. Although Castoriadis´ declarations on the fissure between technological development and its lack of morality rings of a cost/benefit analysis that neutralizes censure, his insights into the effects of television–made remarkably early, in the 1970´s–is extraordinary: TV´s ability to perpetuate authority via imagery; its use to close off modern society from outside influences; loss of the collective/embodied agora in favor of a screen and the subsequent privatization of the individual; infantilizing of the viewer; wiping out of cultural memory; the mixing of fact with triviality until all becomes insignificant; perpetration of what Octavio Paz has called “Complacent Nihilism”.
read the full article here
Alice Walker Expect Nothing
at Shelter Cove
Julius von Bismarck – Public Image Unlimited
The International Space Station releases three nanosatellites—similar to those deployed by Planet Labs—on November 19, 2013. (NASA)