Dogs and Wolves

By the 1990s, people started to realize that working as a company man was safe… prevailed the company stayed around. But the technological revolution that took place in Silicon Valley put traditional companies under threat. For instance, IBM had to lay off a propotion of its company man, who then realized that the low-risk profile of their position wasn’t so low risk. These people couldn’t find a job elsewhere. They were of no use to anyone outside IBM, even their sense of humor failed outside of that corporate culture. The company man has been replaced by the employable person. For people are no longer owned by a company but by something worse: the idea that they need to be employable. The employable person is embedded in an industry, with fear of upsetting not just their employer, but other potential employers.

In the famous tale by Ahiqar, the dog boast to the wolf all the contraptions of confort and luxury he has, almost prompting the wolf to enlist. Until the wolf asks the dog about his collar and is terrified when he understand its use. The wolf ran away and is still running. What would you like to be, a dog or a wolf? In the original Aramaic version, the wolf ends eaten by the lion. Freedom entails risks, real skin in the game. Freedom is never free. Neverthless, a dog’s life may appear smooth and secure, but in the absence of a owner, a dog does not survive. Most people prefer to adopt puppies, not grown-up dogs. In many countries unwanted dogs are euthanized. A wolf is trained to survive. Company man abandoned by their employers cannot bounce back. Whatever you do, just don’t be a dog claiming to be a wolf.

Inspired by: Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2018). Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life. Allen Lane.

Location, Location, Location

In 1913, Vienna played host to Adolf Hitler, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Tito, Sigmund Freud and Joseph Stalin. It was a disparate group. The two revolutionaries, Stalin and Trotsky, were on the run. Sigmund Freud was already well established.

The psychoanalyst, exalted by followers as the man who opened up the secrets of the mind, lived and practised on the city’s Berggasse.

The young Josip Broz, later to find fame as Yugoslavia’s leader Marshal Tito, worked at the Daimler automobile factory in Wiener Neustadt, a town south of Vienna.

Then there was the 24-year-old from the north-west of Austria whose dreams of studying painting at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts had been twice dashed and who now lodged in a doss-house in Meldermannstrasse near the Danube, one Adolf Hitler. No-one knows if Hitler bumped into Trotsky, or Tito met Stalin. The conflagration which erupted the following year destroyed much of Vienna’s intellectual life.

The empire imploded in 1918, while propelling Hitler, Stalin, Trotsky and Tito into careers that would mark world history forever. [BBC]