Friday, April 25, 2008

Things for my to-read list.

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1962)
Miniature literary mindwarps from the world’s most famous blind librarian, a writer – like Kafka – whose work, once encountered, adds a new adjective to the mental lexicon. Unforgettable stuff, after which mazes and mirrors will never be the same again. Often beloved of the kind of person who agrees with its author that “there is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition”, and none the worse for that.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino (1979)
A book composed of the first chapters from other invented books. Either a classic work of literary snakes and ladders or a tiresomely recursive bit of postmodern sterility depending on your interlocutor. Italo Calvino was arguably better elsewhere.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter (1979)
About what it means to think, and how that happens, this is written in the spirit of Lewis Carroll. Pattern recognition in the work of geniuses. Loved by maths geeks and anybody with Asperger’s syndrome and anyone with sense. But at root a chess textbook.

Taken from The Times, from a list of the top 50 cult books of all time.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.

Your question was:

Oh, most omnimpotent one:

What the heck is my boss talking about?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Like many senior managers, your boss has been immersed in management jargon for so long that he can no longer communicate normally. Here, let me provide you with a translation of what he said.

"We need to get the monkey off our back, get a heads-up on the benchmarks, hit the ground running and then belly up to the bar, while all swinging from the same branch on this one."

-- I have something to tell you.

"For some time, I've been maximizing one-to-one interfaces to explore non-vertical relationships while implementing state of the art, bespoke metrics to productize both front and back-end client experiences."

-- I'm gay.

"It's a wake-up call to stop solutioneering in terms of selling the sizzle, not the sausage. We need to be cutting edge, reach for the low-hanging fruit and push the envelope around client focus, but synchronously we need to eat our own dog food and capture the learns. From where I sit, the downside is repositioning ourselves in the marketplace and taking ownership of our own legacy re-branding. So I have identified a number of mission-critical options to harness the synergistic parameters for a corporate ecosystem-wide re-engineering of the motivational hub, to incentivize the delivery of a win-win across the infrastructure and proactively empower our intellectual capital. In other words, it's time to start the hard yards. We've got to stop being vegans, get that mother duck plucked and give it a good basting. Our primary colours must stick to the Velcro."

-- Yes, I know I've got a wife and five kids, but I'm tired of living a lie.

"I actualized this bilateral face time to run this thought grenade past you, as the bottom line mandates that it isn't rocket science to think outside the box. Transparent success barometers impact on the ballpark and you don't have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer to brigade the sheep dip, get your ducks in a line and keep everything in swimming lanes while taking a helicopter view of the situation going forward. I mean, can you make chocolate from that?"

-- I'm telling you this because you always struck me as a sensitive type of guy.

"In a thought shower, right-brain left-brain context, let's throw all the ideas into the knowledge base wok and see if we get ourselves a stir fry. Are you ready to step up to the plate, bring your deliverables to the table and take it to the next level so we can all play in the corporate waterfall?"

-- In fact, I love you, man! Will you go out with me?

"Okay, this is a paradigm shift and we'll have to assess the granularity of your core competencies, eyeball the big picture and touch base with reality. But there are no quick win, out-of-the-box turnkey solutions to make you best of breed when it comes to leveraging a cohesive, copper-bottomed level playing field."

-- Yes, I know this is very sudden.

"Let's diarize a hook-up to unpack and meld when we've got a window, to strategize around what to reiterate to the key players in regard to the concrete deliverables so we end up dominating, in a total way, all the marbles."

-- Take some time to think about this before you reply.

"In the transitional period, the go-live is put in the freezer."

-- Have a nice day.

So the Oracle's advice is, at the office Christmas party tonight, catch your boss under the mistletoe and French him good and proper. Believe me, you won't regret it.

You owe the Oracle a copy of the video of your office Christmas party.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hail Hellas!

A little more than eight minutes long, and well worth it. I had problems embedding it and couldn't figure out where the missing tag or bracket was.

On a related note, I bought the Fagles translation of The Odyssey yesterday while at Duke University for Omer's law school reuinion. I'm still in the introduction (written by Bernard Knox) and it's terrific. I can't wait to get into the poetry itself.