My Week of Consumption and Reviews

Poke the Box by Seth Godin — 3/5 



I tolerated reading Godin’s latest motivational booklet, “Poke the Box,” which deserved the $1 I paid for it.  Unlike the other books I’ve hated so far, this book keeps the anecdotal to a minimum and keeps the wisdom pithy.  Though this book may have been much too short at 97 pages to be even considered a book at all, it makes sense.  There is simply not enough content to stretch across hundreds of pages for this genre.  

Anyway, my lukewarm endorsement is already a phenomenal statement coming from someone who has had a fairly negative reaction to the self-help genre of books.  The other book I attempted to read this week was Never Eat Alone, but I had to stop due to an allergic reaction to Ferrazzi’s purely marketing driven strategies.  The point I had to stop was when Ferrazzi claimed that the return on investment of amassing a finite personal network was infinite.  How on earth can any businessman legitimize the idea that a return was infinite?  Has any businessman ever learned math?  How is this not the birth of a Ponzi scheme?

Has no business school ever taught the idea that a finite resource is a zero sum game?

Well, my internal dialogue supposes that maybe it’s because I’ve never gone to business school that I can’t seem to grasp the ideas that are behind business.  This leads me nicely to the next sensational, storytelling/journalistic piece, The Big Short.  The Big Short profiles some men betting on systemic failure of the banking industry and some ideas behind the collapse of it.


Michael Lewis has an ability to tell real world events as if it were not a real world event.  Maybe this surrealism serves a literary purpose?  What struck me most, if Lewis’ facts are straight, is that the banking industry is run by incompetent management who are duped by the most “clever” of the dunces, all of whom are surrounded by mindless yes-men.  Lewis seems to indicate the 2008 collapse started a decade ago when these banking institutions began to lend money out like crazy and then towering bad investments on top of it.  But Lewis’ earlier book about the collapse of savings and loans in the 1980’s seems to indicate an identical problem going just a bit further back.  It appears as if no one in the banking institution had any self-awareness or ability to think critically about what they were doing, ever.  


And here is my fucking theory: a towering institution of incompetence can do nothing but generate more incompetence.  Going back to Ferrazzi again, I wonder how could it be possible that businessmen are taught hard facts about something being lead and then be expected to sell it as pure gold?  How can a businessman learn that the his goods are finite but sell it as infinite?  I think the only way to maintain this illusion, for the institution of business to perpetuate itself, is to maintain the level of stupidity.  No critical thinking means business runs smoothly, and the money must flow.


I don’t believe I have an entirely pessimistic perspective on the business world.  I admire entreprenuers as if they were some kind of superheroes.  I picked up Never Eat Alone because it was recommended reading for the entreprenuerial type by the entreprenuerial type.  Now, that I have questioned this book, I have to question the list as well.


I also played Dinner Date, winner of the Indie Game Fest 2011:


This perhaps the first ever First Person Subconscious game, where the player acts as a mere subconscious to the real consciousness running throughout the game.  It is somewhat pricey for about half an hour of entertainment but definitely worth it for the ingenuity. 


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nope
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 03:08:19

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.


  2. bytex64
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 08:23:56

    Part of it is definitely this persistent myth of the "Invisible Hand," which is sort of like an all-powerful god of business. "The market is far too complex of a system to understand, so just sit back and watch," is the core of the myth, but the reality is that while the market may not be trivially understandable, it is certainly able to be influenced by both groups and powerful individuals.I think there’s also a persistent tolerance for abuse and gaming of markets because everyone wants to be the one doing the gaming. It doesn’t matter if they’re taking it in the ass right now or not. "Some day, I will be the one exploiting my fellow man."


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