A blessed Good Friday to you.
First, I apologize for missing my scheduled publishes in the past two weeks. I was caught up in the throes of life.
Here is the 72nd serving of the Breakfast Notes.
Insightful Links Of The Week
- The Moral Economy of High Tech Modernism. Most think government bureaucracies and high-growth startups (or tech firms) are worlds apart. This essay reveals that tech firms and bureaucracies are common in their power to categorise and order things, people, and situations, thus defining norms. While the state wields power more obviously, the public retains its conscious agency. However, by bringing customisation to its logical limits through smiley surveillance and automation, technologists have ‘made it harder for people to identify their common fate’. This is a dense read, but if you want to understand the ‘water’ technologists swim in, you must try this on for size.
- The Case For Hero Worship. Many cultures today are guilty of cutting down the tall poppy. Durant asserts that the history of humanity is the history of its great men and women, who have significantly contributed to the advancement of civilisation and culture. He puts it elegantly here, “The history of France is not, if one may say it with all courtesy, the history of the French people; the history of those nameless men and women who tilled the soil, cobbled the shoes, cut the cloth, and peddled the goods (for these things have been done everywhere and always) -- the history of France is the record of her exceptional men and women, her inventors, scientists, statesmen, poets, artists, musicians, philosophers and saints, and of the additions which they made to the technology and wisdom, the artistry and decency, of their people and mankind.” To understand a country, you must understand its heroes. To Durant, a society that engages in hero worship admires, studies and improves on its heroes’ efforts. Only then will society enjoy continued progress.
- Power Laws in Culture. The internet today is one giant contradiction. It can fragment and concentrate attention. We can end up doom-scrolling or go down a rabbit hole. There is no in-between. “The Internet concentrates attention because it connects everyone in a big network. And networks are subject to powerful feedback loops.” Social media has predisposed us to be influenced (directly and indirectly) by the actions of others. This calls to mind Rene Girard’s theory of mimetic desire. The theory proposes that human desire is not primarily a result of individual needs or preferences but is rather shaped by social imitation and competition. As such, in a networked state, our desire to be seen liking what our ‘crowd’ likes gets increasingly amplified.
Visualisation Of The Week
This is a story of Arnold’s most controversial win.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is an icon of bodybuilding. Yet, his 1980 Mr Olympia victory was the most controversial one. This article explains that Arnold won the contest not by virtue of his physique but by his charisma.
He used his ‘X-Factor’ to sway the crowd and judges in his favour.
My favourite anecdote is him jumping out of line, and striking most muscular or double biceps poses during the compulsory rounds. He only stopped when he received a disqualification warning. I am pretty sure if his competitors did it, they would have gotten an unceremonial disqualification.
This episode shows how we don’t talk enough about the ‘charisma bonus’- people with charisma tend to get away with more.
May the Sun Shine Upon Your Face,