Sympathy, Suspicion, and Support
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More Sympathy for Your Dumb Boss
Is your boss bad at his job? Are other senior stakeholders, partners, or clients you work with irritatingly incompetent?
The Peter Principle explains why.
In essence, the Peter Principle is the idea that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence. Since employees are promoted based on past performance, they continue to get promoted until they are no longer able to perform.
It's such a simple but powerful idea. I refer to it anytime a friend or family member's boss is being dumb, and it seems to provide a bit of comfort.
So next time your boss does something dumb, don't blame him/her. It's not their fault. Its just the reality of working in a hierarchy.
More Suspicious of Authentic Cuisine
Two weeks ago, I suggested that you ought to be more suspicious of Pad Thai (link).
Today, I suggest that you ought to be more suspicious of the concept of "Authentic" cuisine entirely. Typically, authentic cuisine is held up as superior, as somehow more "true", since it is steeped in culinary history.
Here are some quick surprising facts:
- Tomatoes aren't native to Italy. They didn't arrive until after Europeans conquered America. That means pizza and marina sauce are not "authentically" Italian.
- Chili Peppers aren't native to Thailand, meaning your favorite spicy curry is not "authentically" Thai.
- Mexican food is largely the result of influences by Spanish and Arab immigrants. Al Pastor tacos, for example, come from Lebanese roots.
As this article from Atlas Obscura points out, authenticity is vastly overrated. No dish comes from only one particular place - all cuisines are mixing and matching continually.
Crab Rangoon is a perfect example of this - I live in Asia and have not once seen it on a menu here. But I miss this super strange American-Chinese dish all the same. Deep fried crab and cream cheese makes no sense on paper, and yet it makes total sense in my mouth.
Who cares if food is authentic - it just needs to be delicious.
More Supportive of "Death Panels"
"Death Panels" are what anti nationalised healthcare activists call the committees that decide whether or not citizens can get certain treatments. It's a damn scary name, and a great bit of (negative) branding.
But scary as they sounds, they are also essential. The UK has done this particularly well through an agency called "NICE". Using questionnaires measuring pain levels, mood, daily activity, etc, they've identified the financial value of one year of life in good health (roughly $26,000-$40,000 USD).
If a treatment costs less than that and gives an additional year of good health, the UK government will pay for it. If not, they don't.
Though this feels a bit grimy, the benefits are clear. In the UK, citizens get roughly equal treatment quality to the US, at half the price. Private insurers in the US pay, on average, 220% more than what the National Health Service in the UK pays.
Of course, the UK system is not perfect (long wait times being the chief problem). But by being explicit about a sensitive subject, they've managed to achieve far better outcomes for most people.
If you want to read more, check out this article by Ezra Klein of Vox.
More Limited Options
For many young people, "preserving optionality" (i.e. maintaining the ability to choose from many options) is seen as highly desirable. I myself have often used "optionality" as a metric to weigh career decisions.
Mihir Desai argues, persuasively, that this is a bad idea in this excellent essay in the Harvard Crimson (~4 minutes reading time).
My favorite quote: " And in fact, maybe those serial options acquirers are simply masking a deep risk aversion that underlay their affinity for optionality. Even if not explicitly stated, optionality was always the end rather than a means to an end."
In other words, simply preserving optionality is a way to perpetually avoid making a real decision. It's a slippery slope from "maintaining optionality" to "never choosing among all the options you have". Instead, we should encourage people to simply choose an option and see it where it goes.
More Election Night Chaos
No matter who you support in the 2020 American election, I'm guessing you're already tired of the madness. You're likely looking forward to November 4th, when the election is finished and we can begin to move beyond the campaigns.
Unfortunately, Nov. 4th will be anything but clarifying. Instead, we are likely to see a "Red Mirage".
The basic idea: Republicans are more likely to vote in person, Democrats to vote by mail. That means on election night itself, before all the mail-in votes are counted, it is likely Donald Trump will seem to win in a landslide. Then, in the days and weeks afterwards, the vote tally will swing wildly towards Joe Biden, perhaps even enough to give him the victory.
Given the polarization and vast amount of misinformation in American politics, this is going to lead to pure chaos. Trump's persistent lies about voting are only going to stoke the fires. I'll predict right now that the Supreme Court will be called on to get involved, just as they did in 2000.
“Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.” - Henry David Thoreau
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