Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Garcia : Charly or Jerry?

And I thought Jerry Garcia was the only famously self destructive rocker. Turns out this Weird Al look-alike could give a pre-rehab Robert Downey Jr. a run for his methadone.

Jokes aside, I'm listening to Charly's 1985 release "Piano Bar" and it's not bad.

Next up -- Hayek: Frederick or Salma.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Scalable Professions

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on scalable professions:

A scalable profession is good only if you are successful; they are more competitive, produce monstrous inequalities, and are far more random, with huge disparities between efforts and rewards--a few can take a large share of the pie, leaving others out entirely at no fault of their own.

Billers, Players, and Income Inequality, Arnold Kling:

Yes, this is just the economics of superstars. But it suggests a simple dichotomy. As Taleb points out, there are safe professions where you charge by the hour, so I might call them Billers. As a Biller, your earnings tend to have a high floor but a low ceiling. Think of an accountant.

What Taleb calls scalable professions are ones where you are not limited by what you can charge for an hour. Recording artists, professional baseball players, entrepreneurs, corporate CEO's, and financial speculators enjoy scalability. But, as Taleb points out, they have to compete in tournaments where there are a few winners and many losers. So we can call these sorts of people Players.

I think this can be a helpful frame in which to view the financial choices faced by the modern-nomad. Rules of thumb follow:
  • Context is King or 50 is not middle aged.
  • Never confuse your Billing job with a Scalable job.
  • For the modern-nomad, Billing is better

What's Wrong w/ The Valley

As if I needed more reason for never going back to Silicon Valley.

Julia Allison : The worst person in the Valley.

I had my doubts about the creative and moral bankruptcy of the valley but when people like this start showing up, it's hard to deny it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hamstrung by Knowledge

Seth’s blog » Blog Archive » “My Advantage Was Ignorance”
“The main advantage I had was ignorance,” he said. He didn’t know all the things that could go wrong. “I wasn’t afraid.” Someone who knew more would have been. Geoffrey Bateson said something similar: If I’d known how hard everything was going to be, I would never have done anything. This is the upside of the ignorance that Nassim Taleb talks about.

Amen brother. For some time now, and especially since Julia has started her own business, I've been thinking about starting a software venture of some kind. I've thought about doing a micro ISV servicing the mac community, an agile consulting firm, a voip market place, a opensource PPM, and a handful of other ventures. In each case I've been hamstrung because I know, or at least think I know, the risks.

I'd probably be better off in a line of business w/ fewer bits and more atoms.