Reciprocal Causality

Each part of the system has an effect on the whole, while the system as a whole affects each part.

Quote of the Moment

One attribute of a complex system is a special type of reciprocal causality: each part of the system has an effect on the whole, while the system as a whole affects each part. Because of this, a complex system can never be fully understood by reducing it to its component parts. An example of this kind of reciprocal causality can be seen in a tropical rain forest. As a forest becomes dense and large, the roots of its trees interconnect to create a healthy network of root fungus in the soil; the foliage creates more shade, which keeps the undergrowth moist; and the evaporation from its leaves creates its own cloud system, increasing the rainfall. The forest system as a whole this affects each tree, while each tree affects the entire system.

| Jeremy Lent


from Wikipedia:

Kurt Alexander Eichenwald (born June 28, 1961) is an American journalist and a New York Times bestselling author of five books, one of which, The Informant, was made into a motion picture in 2009. Formerly he was a senior writer and investigative reporter with The New York Times, Condé Nast's business magazine, Portfolio, and later was a contributing editor with Vanity Fair and a senior writer with Newsweek. Eichenwald had been employed by The New York Times since 1986 and primarily covered Wall Street and corporate topics such as insider trading, accounting scandals, and takeovers, but also wrote about a range of issues including terrorism, the Bill Clinton pardon controversy, Federal health care policy, and sexual predators on the Internet.

Today, Eichenwald posted a stream on Twitter [emphasis mine]:

The Great Resignation" is not about people not wanting to work. It is about a dawning recognition that, for a larger and larger portion of this country, the American dream is dead, and with it, the inspiration of working toward a better future for oneself. Instead, work becomes not the means towards reaching an aspiration - a spouse, children, a home, vacations, personal growth, a retirement. Instead, the greed culture has turned work for millions into just a means of survival, with wages stagnant, healthcare unaffordable, insurance treated as a luxury, paid free time an impossibility, children unaffordable, homes a dream.

Yes, work is important - but not without the promise of a future. Many young people see nothing but 40 years of the same, further enriching the obscenely rich. This system has taught people how to survive without, because they don't believe they will ever have. If they reasonably don't believe they will ever be able to afford a house or to raise children, and never will have group insurance or a paid vacation, and can make it living with their parents, and have already been taught by McResources (real thing) and Walmart how to apply for Food Stamps and Medicaid because those multibillion dollar corporations know they don't pay enough for their employees to survive, and are already getting those benefits, and have the choice of just saying "forget it, I'm going to work on my painting or sewing or whatever, I am tired of being abused by my supervisor, I am tired of being screamed at by customers for things out of my control, I am tired of watching adults throw temper tantrums and then being called out by my company because I could have handled it better. I can survive without all of this. I can be happier without all of this. I am paid so little, my life won't be that different."

THAT is why we have the Great Resignation. Because we, the Boomers have endlessly sucked up the capital that could go down to the younger generations to enrich ourselves, then pushed down the debt.

Entry level jobs that can be done with a high school education now demand college degrees, PLUS unpaid internship experience. So, to do most anything with the possibility of a future, younger generations have to go to college. But to do it, they have to load up on debt. Then we sneer at them when they talk about how their terrible wages and horrible debt make home buying etc. impossible.

Oh sure, the children of. the rich are fine. And their parents sneer "maybe stop buying avocado toast" as if a single pleasure in life equals the cost of a home. All of this starts and stops with greed and corporations. Pay more, and stop pulling up the ladder.

Not all jobs need college degrees many years ago, I interviewed Bill Clark, then the National Security Advisor under Reagan. After the interview, I asked him some background, and asked what college he got his degree from. Sheepishly, he said he didn't. Only had a high school degree. That's the 1980s - the National Security Advisor for the President of the United States had only a high school education. But I will bet anything, to be the social media voice at Wendy's, no matter how funny you are, you have to be a college graduate with internships in social media etc etc. Not all jobs need college degrees. Companies need to stop requiring them for jobs that don't.

And they need to start paying fair wages. And treating people like human beings. People never wanted to "work." They wanted to invest their effort toward living a better life. And if work doesn't do that, if work merely makes life worse to people who have been taught how to survive without wages so that McDonalds and Walmart et al can shift their wage costs onto taxpayers, then a Great Resignation was inevitable.


Share work futures


Nicole Hong and Matthew Haag look into the trend of suburban coworking. People don’t want to go back to the office — with its long commutes, and other tradeoffs — but would like to work outside the home, at least some of the time:

Daybase, created during the pandemic by a group of former WeWork executives, is opening its first co-working locations in the coming months in the New York City area — Hoboken and Westfield, N.J., as well as in Harrison, N.Y.

The company is leasing vacant retail spaces, targeting densely populated neighborhoods where local residents had long prepandemic commutes and few other co-working options. Users can pay $50 for a monthly membership for access to lounge areas or, for instance, use a desk for about $10 an hour.

At the heart of Daybase’s thesis is the idea that giving employees the flexibility to work from a suburban office space will ultimately attract a wider talent pool and make New York City more competitive with other cities. The ripple effects would boost the region’s economy, Daybase executives believe, part of an ongoing debate about whether New York City can fully recover only if workers return to Manhattan five days a week.


Workers in the New York region had the longest average one-way commute in the country at about 38 minutes, according to 2019 census data. About 23 percent of workers in the region commuted at least an hour each way.


John Arenas, the chief executive of Serendipity Labs [Ridgewood, N.J.], said that when he founded the company a decade ago, his pitch for co-working spaces in the suburbs failed to take off because the corporate world strictly adhered to a five-day workweek in a central office.

Since the pandemic hit, Mr. Arenas said, more than half of his revenue now comes from companies that pay for employees to work from a co-working location in the suburbs as a perk.

I see this as a rising trend.

Zheping Huang reports that ByteDance is dropping the 996 work ethic:

ByteDance Ltd. ordered its employees to end their day by 7 p.m., becoming one of the first tech companies in China to officially mandate shorter working hours. 

Staff in China should only work from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays and will need to seek permission to stay beyond those hours at least one day in advance, according to an internal document on Monday that was seen by Bloomberg News. A representative for the TikTok and Douyin owner declined to comment. 

The country’s grueling work pace -- known as “996” because employees often labor from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week -- was long celebrated by tech billionaires from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Jack Ma to Inc. founder Richard Liu. But it’s come under renewed scrutiny this year, fueled by deaths associated with overwork and a growing chorus of social media complaints. With President Xi Jinping calling on the country to work toward “common prosperity,” authorities have stepped up warnings against employers to refrain from unreasonable overtime and other violations. 

China’s government is cracking down on slavish overwork.


End meeting for all | James Parker on a photo essay by Thomas Dworzak:

When we remember this time, we’ll do so through a bunch of little boxes on a laptop screen. The photographer Thomas Dworzak captured our strange, sad year on Zoom.

Bolshoi practicing in Moscow (left), church service (right)

Santa in Dubai

The wonderful Anne Helen Petersen [emphasis mine]:

If a company is forcing you back into the office now with no reason other than “it’s time,” they’re scared. If they’re hauling out rhetoric of “we need to sustain company culture” by enforcing two days a week in the office, but have no plans or infrastructure for actually cultivating that culture virtually or in person — they don’t actually know what company culture is. If they complain, as one worker told me, that they don’t want the physical office to become “an expensive paperweight” and want to show the c-suite “it’s being used” but haven’t considered what sort of office design, size, or location might actually meet employees’ needs — they haven’t been asking employees the right questions or, even more importantly, haven’t been listening to their answers.

Paul Taylor says Whatever You Do Today, Don’t Start A Transformation Programme based on new research showing only 22% of transformations succeed:

If transformation programmes have a 78% chance of failure why would you ever consider doing one? You certainly wouldn’t get on a flight that only had a 22% chance of a safe landing.