October 29th, 2009


The Gervais Principle: Why business is inherently (not coincidentally) disfunctional.


I don't think anyone will appreciate how brilliant this really is. Basically, this says that the business world is broken up into three kinds of people: The Sociopath executives, The Clueless middle-managers, and the Slacker workers. The real brilliance, though, comes in when he explains why each of the jobs involved requires the stereotypical trait. In short, why your executive can't help but be a sociopath, why your manager can't help but be clueless, and why your average worker can't help but be a slacker. Also, the principle explains the life-cycle of a modern business in shockingly accurate terms.

It's a long piece, and taking the time to read it and understand it is almost certainly beyond the average person. Which is a real pity, because if you want to truly understand what (large-scale) business is, and the internal details of how such operates, this will tell you everything. You just have to have a long enough attention span to read it, and a strong enough intellectual stomach to not recoil in horror at the truths being laid out before you. ;]

(And let's face it, if you have both of those traits, then you're one of two kinds of people: You're either a sociopath (thus, already an executive) or a highly perceptive Slacker (and thus, already understand all this at some gut level). Managers (by definition clueless) are incapable of seeing the truth of this. Same with the non-perceptive slackers.)

A couple interesting articles from Esquire (not so) recently.

For thirty-six years, Warren Hern has been one of the few doctors in America to specialize in late abortions. George Tiller was another. And when Dr. Tiller was murdered that Sunday in church, Warren Hern became the only one left.


This one hits close to home, because Hern is right here in Boulder. In fact, about eight years back, I used to live on the other side of the same block his clinic is on.

The ROV whirred farther into the darkness. The ocean floor lifted a little whenever it was disturbed, the silt turning the water into milk. The men squinted at their monitors, the ROV's lights casting fifteen or twenty feet into the murk. They didn't speak. Then they saw something alien waiting for them on the bottom of the cold ocean, a twisted mess of metal and cable and blade. If the men piloting the ROV hadn't known what they were looking for, they might not have guessed what they had found. But Chaulk knew almost immediately that the ROV had crept up on its target from behind, and now he was looking at the tail section of a Sikorsky S-92, at rest on its right side.

The ROV came around the tail and turned to scan the main section of the fuselage, which the men hoped would be intact enough for them to raise without fear of losing it. Their hearts sank. Even Chaulk's expert eyes weren't sure what they were taking in. It was as though he were looking at a puzzle not only in pieces but also turned inside out. He asked the men in that windowless container to toggle their displays from black-and-white to color. They hit the switch. That's when they began to learn. They saw blue-and-white aluminum, pairs of green rubber boots, and bright-orange survival suits, still wrapped around the men they were meant to save.


This is the story of the investigation of the helicopter crash.