Big Ben spycraft

Each news programme opened with a live broadcast of Big Ben tolling the hour –the magical sound of freedom. Ingenious German physicists found a way to determine the weather conditions in London based on tiny differences in the tone of the broadcast ding-dongs. This information offered invaluable help to the Luftwaffe. When the British Secret Service discovered this, they replaced the live broadcast with a set recording of the famous clock.

from Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

A more pragmatic morality

The capitalist–consumerist ethic is revolutionary in another respect. Most previous ethical systems presented people with a pretty tough deal. They were promised paradise, but only if they cultivated compassion and tolerance, overcame craving and anger, and restrained their selfish interests. This was too tough for most. The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum. In contrast, most people today successfully live up to the capitalist–consumerist ideal. The new ethic promises paradise on condition that the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money, and that the masses give free rein to their cravings and passions –and buy more and more. This is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do. How, though, do we know that we’ll really get paradise in return?

from Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Link: Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?

‘between 2011 and 2012, the polling company Gallup conducted the most detailed study ever carried out of how people feel about the thing we spend most of our waking lives doing – our paid work. They found that 13% of people say they are “engaged” in their work – they find it meaningful and look forward to it. Some 63% say they are “not engaged”, which is defined as “sleepwalking through their workday”. And 24% are “actively disengaged”: they hate it.’

More:

‘To them, finding an antidepressant didn’t mean finding a way to change your brain chemistry. It meant finding a way to solve the problem that was causing the depression in the first place.’
Link to original

Book: Crooked Little Vein

The writing in this book is good, and I’m always a sucker for noir.

But it gets tiresome after awhile, all the balls-out crazy stuff and topics.

There’s a lot to study about fiction dynamics here though fueled by the picador plotting: lots of interesting characters, lots of mini-plots; paring characters; the weak male/strong female trope; unlimited budget; snarky, but weary direct address tone to the reader; maybe world building, but just as the back-story for the various characters you meet (the serial killer on the airplane, the Roanokes, but the Bob character is ignored/anemic in this respect); social commentary as asides (from Trix, often); sex for titilation.

Obviously I liked it enough to quickly read it.

Cloud-Native Cookbook – beyond “survival is not mandatory”

I started a new booklet project, the Cloud Native Cookbook.

The premise is this:

The premise of this book is to collect specific, tactical advice transitioning to a cloud-native organization. The reader is someone who “gets it” when it comes to agile, DevOps, cloud native, and All the Great Things. Their struggle is actually putting it all in place. Any given organization has all of it’s own, unique advantages and disadvantages, so any “fix” will be situational, of course.

This cookbook draws from actual experiences of what worked and didn’t work to try to help organizations hack out a path to doing software better. While we’ll allow ourselves some “soft,” cultural things here and there, each of the “recipes” should be actionable, tangible items. At the very least, the rainbows and unicorns stuff should have concrete examples, e.g., how do you get people to actually pair program when they think it’s a threat to their self-worth?

As with my previous cloud-native booklet, I have this one open for comments as I’m working on it. It’d be great to get your input.

Here’s some slides I’ve been using around all this.

Programming the human mind to operate in the market, or just buy shit

More from The Attention Merchants

First, on advertising as a decision making lubricant:

Information cannot be acted upon without attention and thus attention capture and information are essential to a functioning market economy, or indeed any competitive process, like an election (unknown candidates do not win). So as a technology for gaining access to the human mind, advertising can therefore serve a vital function, making markets, elections, and everything that depends on informed choice operate better, by telling us what we need to know about our choices, ideally in an objective fashion.

And then an example of that principal in place to sell ads at CBS, early on:

“Here you have the advertiser’s ideal—the family group in its moments of relaxation [listening to the radio] awaiting your message,” said CBS. “Nothing equal to this has ever been dreamed of by the advertising man.” It is, as we shall see, one thing to sell access to the minds, quite another to predict reliably the audience’s frame of mind; and by dictating the moment of infiltration, radio claimed to do just that. At the time and place of CBS’s choosing, the audience would be “at leisure and their minds receptive.”

Overall, The Attention Merchants is good stuff so far.