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jerryking : janan_ganesh   25

A millennial’s hymn to Generation X
October 25, 2019 | Financial Times | by Janan Ganesh

Thought-provoking article by Janan Ganesh arguing that the Gen X cohort are passing through life without having left anywhere near the kind of societal impact of either their larger numbered predecessors, the baby boomers, or their larger numbered successors, the millennials.  Generation X have avoided embracing big ideas,  or embracing nobel causes or political zeal.  lack of passion, big vision, no protest movements, no electoral shocks, etc.  Ganesh argues that Generation X's unpretentiousness--their unwillingness to  made a big splash--is standing them in good stead...."No living generation has shown less interest in changing the world. As a result, no living generation looks wiser today." This is because those who are wildly engaged in causes today (e.g. populism, climate activism, etc.) look like utopian true believers.  By contrast, Generation X'ers look like healthy, sober, sceptics....representing a certain hardheadedness or tough-mindedness or prudence.  Even Generation X' popular cultural touch points, movies like Pulp Fiction and Fargo are really more about the  particular and personal rather the evincing a larger societal message.
Ganan concludes by arguing that it is a category error to misinterpret Generation X's circumspection for mediocrity or ineffectiveness. Many tech company founders are Generation X members. " It is just that these gifts were seldom deployed in public life. The cream of the generation chose business and the arts over politics," Janan
mistrusts vision. Sometimes, vision results in blameless people having to pack their things in the night and flee their own country to survive. I like caution. I like moderately countercyclical fiscal policy with a view to 2.25 per cent annual growth over the period, thanks.
'90s  baby_boomers  demographic_changes  generations  Generation_X  Janan_Ganesh  millennials  popular_culture 
october 2019 by jerryking
The last days of the middle-class world citizen
October 3, 2019 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.
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what I think Janan Ganesh is talking about; the divide between the globally mobile elite and the locally restricted peasantry is getting increasingly stark, and the middle class is being hollowed out.
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'10s  Big_Tech  climate_change  decline  deglobalization  disposable_income  downward_mobility  dystopian_futures  frictions  future  globalization  Janan_Ganesh  lifestyles  middle_class  millennials  pessimism  societal_choices  subtractive  The_One_Percent  thought-provoking  travel 
october 2019 by jerryking
The winner’s wisdom of Silicon Valley Stoics
MAY 31, 2019 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.

An idea that works for an established winner can be utterly ruinous for a mere aspirant.....In common parlance, Stoicism used to mean nothing more specific than a kind of grin-and-bear-it fortitude......The new Stoicism calls for — and here I paraphrase — a virtuous rather than joy-centred life. It often takes the guise of self-denial.............the worst of it is the deception of those who are just starting out in life. Unless “22 Stoic Truth-Bombs From Marcus Aurelius That Will Make You Unf***withable” is pitched at retirees, the internet crawls with bad Stoic advice for the young. The premise is that what answers to the needs of those in the 99th percentile of wealth and power is at all relevant to those trying to break out of, say, the 50th.
advice  cannabis  fads  Greek  Janan_Ganesh  natural_order  new_graduates  relevancy  self_denial  Silicon_Valley  stages_of_life  Stoics  virtues 
june 2019 by jerryking
Why we should be honest about failure
March 15, 2019 | Financial Times | by Janan Ganesh.

"Disappointment is the natural order of life. Most people achieve less than they would like".

Failure — not spectacular failure, but failure as gnawing disappointment — is the natural order of life. Most people will achieve at least a little bit less than they would have liked in their careers. Most marriages wind down from intense passion to a kind of elevated friendship, and even this does not count the roughly four in 10 that collapse entirely. Most businesses fail. Most books fail. Most films fail.

You would hope that something so endemic to the human experience would be constantly discussed and actively prepared for. Ganesh regrets that failure is unacknowledged, little discussed, except as a character-building phase.....For many people, failure will be just that, not a nourishing experience or a bridge to something else. It will be a lasting condition, and it will sting a fair bit.......Our inability to look [commonness of failure] in the eye is...inadvertently [making] the experience of failure more harrowing than it needs to be. By reimagining it as just a [way station] before ultimate triumph, those who find themselves stuck there must feel like aberrations, when their experience could not be more banal......[in some cases, career failure]...was just the law of numbers doing its impersonal work.....In almost all professions, there are too few places at the top for too many hopefuls. Lots of blameless people will miss out. Whether at school or through those excruciating management guides, a wiser culture would not romanticise failure as a means to success. It would normalise it as an end......Those who overcome setbacks to achieve epic feats tend to universalise their atypical experience. Amazingly bad givers of advice, they encourage people to proceed with ambitions that are best sat on, and despise “quitters” when quitting is often the purest common sense.
bouncing_back  disappointment  failure  Janan_Ganesh  mediocrity  setbacks  the_human_condition  natural_order  underachievement 
march 2019 by jerryking
Grand follies and the art of thinking big
February 22, 2019 |Financial Times| by Janan Ganesh.

Who would rather that Airbus had never made the bet at all? Who would live in a world that never risks over-reach?

A defender of grand follies is spoilt for examples that turned out well........Today’s vainglorious travesty is tomorrow’s untouchable fixture of the landscape. We are lousy judges of future tastes, including our own....Even if an audacious project fails, and fails lastingly, it can still trigger success stories of other kinds. Some of this happens through the sheer technical example set: the A380, like Concorde before it, forced engineers to innovate in ways that will cascade down the decades in unpredictable ways. Some of the most banal givens of daily life — dust busters, wireless headsets — can be traced back to that messianic project we know as the space programme.

Then there is the inspiring spectacle of just trying to do something big. Progress through tinkering counts no less than progress through great leaps, but only the second kind is likely to electrify people into venturing their own efforts. Without the grand gesture — and the risk of humiliation — any field of endeavour is liable to stagnate.....Perhaps an exhausted west now prefers to tinker all the same. Big ideas are often paid for out of idle wealth (think of Elon Musk’s fortune, or Alphabet’s cash pile) and the existence of this can seem almost distasteful in a culture that is newly sensitive to inequality. As for largeness of vision, there was plenty of the stuff in the forever wars and pre-crash banking. It would be strange if people who lived through those events did not now flinch at the sight of excitable visionaries brandishing schemes.
Airbus  audacity  big_bets  breakthroughs  Elon_Musk  fallacies_follies  game_changers  humiliation  incrementalism  inspiration  Janan_Ganesh  Jeff_Bezos  marginal_improvements  moonshots  overreach  risks  thinking_big  tinkerers  visionaries 
february 2019 by jerryking
Don’t mourn bohemia — it’s everywhere now
DECEMBER 28, 2018 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.

We think of offbeat enclaves as a thing of the past. But bohemia isn’t gone, it’s just permeated the whole of city life.
bohemians  creative_types  creative_class  enclaves  Janan_Ganesh  neighbourhoods  gentrification  New_York_City  offbeat 
december 2018 by jerryking
Where is San Francisco’s Bonfire of the Vanities?
December 21, 2108 | | Financial Times | by Janan Ganesh.

Victor Hugo’s Paris. Tom Wolfe’s New York. Charles Dickens’s London. Whose San Francisco? Even a brief visit confirms its resemblance to these other cities at their most feverishly written-about. It has the same street-level squalor, the same inventive genius, the same jittery, barricaded rich.....Careering down the Bay Bridge in an Uber (founded in San Francisco), I gawp at the superior physical setting. The raw materials for a classic, a Les Misérables of the Tenderloin, are all here. And yet 18 years into a century that it has shaped, and almost 50 since the journalistic coinage of “Silicon Valley”, this place remains near-absent from literature. What fiction there is about modern San Francisco, including the first novel published on Medium, by former Google executive Jessica Powell, tends not to detain the Nobel committee.....The biggest story in American commerce and, when you think of tech’s displacing effects, in American society too, has been left to journalists and the occasional biopic to tell. The result is a story half-told. We have the numbers but not the anthropological nuance. Imagine trying to understand 1980s New York with stock indices and crime data, but without Bonfire of the Vanities. Except, an east-coast powerhouse would never suffer a literary snub. That a western one does suggests more about the writers, perhaps, than about the subject.....Seven of America’s 10 biggest cities are now west of the Mississippi River. .....Where San Francisco blends into the low-rise Anyplace of Santa Clara, you can see their point. But the city itself, with its layers of desperation and opulence, is Dickensian. It just lacks a Dickens, or even a lesser chronicler.....A planet-moulding capital of technology deserves its due, too. The stories are there, if writers can accept the western drift of their nation’s energies.
Bonfire_of_the_Vanities  fiction  Janan_Ganesh  literature  San_Francisco  Silicon_Valley  Tom_Wolfe  writers 
december 2018 by jerryking
The belle époque of the small nation is over
September 28, 2018 | Financial Times | by JANAN GANESH.

Globalisation has been the era of small countries but that time may now be passing. Ganesh raises an interesting point, what happens to small countries that, since the end of WW2, have enjoyed the protection of the rules-based system (UN, WTO, NATO, Pax Americana).

Singapore leaders were determined in their quest to that small nation be less small.....The paradox is that smallness has been an edge, not a curse, in the liberal age. For all the grandiloquence about a Washington Consensus and a Pax Americana, the US was never the principal profiteer from globalisation.....The real beneficiaries were the rapid enrichment of Ireland, the ethnic diversification of Sweden, the technological fecundity of Israel and the rise of Dubai from the sands as a shimmering entrepôt......1990-2010 was the golden age--the belle époque--of the small nation....Rules-based globalism was a precious equaliser for these places.... it also made advantages of their liabilities....Their shortage of domestic consumers was the ultimate incentive to cast around for other markets. Their lack of capital made them welcome foreign investors. Even the nicheness of their native languages (in some cases) obliged them to master English.

There is, without leaning too much on “national character”, a small-country hardiness ....an acceptance of the outside world as a non-negotiable fact: a blend of fatalism and resourcefulness that makes for formidable migrants....If small countries have mastered the global age, it is a feat that goes beyond the economic. They also have a cultural reach that was hard to picture not long ago, when nations needed the brawn of a BBC or a Canal Plus to foist their creative wares on distant audiences....all attest to what we are now obliged to call the “soft power” of small countries....The mistake is to see this moment as eternal. For those who live in or care about these places, the dread is that the coming decades will be as harsh as the last few have been kind. Almost all the conditions that allowed small nations to bloom look precarious....growing protectionism...big states throwing their weight around....Peter Thiel, in his bid for NZ citizenship, said he found “no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand”. It was telling that such a prolific maker of sound bets backed a small, open, adaptable nation.
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I am more optimistic and believe many small states will adjust just fine. Why? Think of Taleb's flexibility idea - small states are less fragile than bigger ones, more nimble, more homogenous, faster to change I like also to add that there are more smaller successful counties than the ones mentioned (e.g., Switzerland, Costa Rica).
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The flip side is that small countries may have greater ability to act thoughtfully and coherently than larger peers. But I agree - it is likely to be tough ahead.

Here in Singapore, a senior politician summed it up very well: we are just a block of granite in the south china sea, and have no God-given right to exist as a country. The only way we can survive is by being paranoid and continuously reinventing ourselves.
city-states  globalization  Iceland  Janan_Ganesh  nimbleness  Peter_Thiel  post_globalization  rules-based  Singapore  small_states  soft_power  antifragility  Dubai  Ireland  punch-above-its-weight  paranoia  reinvention 
october 2018 by jerryking
Tom Wolfe, journalism’s great anti-elitist
Janan Ganesh MAY 18, 2018

Wolfe was the first anti-elitist in the modern style. Or at least, the first of real stature.

He exposed the credulity of the rich for artistic fads. He made fun of their recreational left-wingery,... their “radical chic”. Among the vanities that went into his bonfire was the idea of America as classless. At the risk of tainting him with politics, there was something Trumpian about his ability to define himself against Manhattan’s grandest burghers while living among them.

If all Wolfe did was lampoon the urban rich, it would have made for a sour body of work. But he did the inverse, too. He heroised the other kind of American: physical, duty-doing, heartland-based. His only uncynical book is his best. The Right Stuff, an extended prose poem to fighter pilots and astronauts, has all the velocity of its subject, even as it pauses to linger over these men, with their utilitarian hair cuts, their blend of arrogance and asceticism......Wolfe’s great coup was to sense before anyone else that counter-culture was becoming the culture. Its capture of universities, media and the arts amounted to a new establishment that deserved as much irreverent scrutiny as the old kind.....Before South Park, before Bill Burr, before PJ O’Rourke, there was Wolfe, more or less alone in his testing of liberal certainties, and happy to bear a certain amount of ostracism for it. .....But it says something of his importance that he changed fiction and non-fiction and yet neither achievement ranks as his highest. It is his prescience about elites, and the inevitability of a reaction against them, that defines his reputation.

One test of a writer’s influence is how often people quote them unknowingly. .....Wolfe scores better than anyone of his generation, what with “good ol’ boy” and the “right stuff” and “Mau-Mauing”. What sets him apart, though, is that millions also unknowingly think his thoughts. When? Whenever they resent the cloistered rich. Whenever they fear for free speech in a hyper-sensitive culture.

The mutation of these thoughts into a brute populism in western democracies cannot be pinned on Wolfe, who was civility incarnate. Like a good reporter, he wrote what he saw and left it to the world to interpret. What he saw were people who had wealth, refinement and so much of the wrong stuff.
anti-elitist  counter_culture  Janan_Ganesh  journalists  legacies  obituaries  Tom_Wolfe  tributes  writers  enfant_terrible  New_York_City  novels  social_classes  the_One_Percent  elitism  worldviews 
may 2018 by jerryking
The 1960s were about capitalism, not radicalism
APRIL 13, 2018| FT | by Janan Ganesh.

Consider how many icons of the period combined beatnik ideals with a certain commercial worldliness.

The 50th anniversary of 1968 is a rolling event in literature, film and academia. Books such as Richard Vinen’s The Long ’68, which roves beyond Paris to America and eastern Europe, are worth reading, if only to retire the 21st-century conceit that international youth movements are somehow contingent on social media. But the commemorations will pastiche that decade if they tell of a straightforwardly leftist revolution that fell slightly short. The reality was more complex. It also survives yet. The blend of idealism (even righteousness) and commercial edge has become the creed of Silicon Valley. California is where the two faces of that decade kiss.
'60s  1968  anniversaries  commemoration  Janan_Ganesh 
april 2018 by jerryking
Nabokov, Ozil and the uses of insomnia
FEBRUARY 9, 2018 | FT | Janan Ganesh.

Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

The plain title belies a harrowing study of sleeplessness, which Walker persuasively links to cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, mental health problems and immune deficiencies....Doctors have agreed for some time on the physical penalties of inadequate sleep, a threshold they set at seven hours or less per night.....Apparently, whether you are a “morning lark” or a “night owl” is to a large extent a genetic given. Camomile tea and eye masks can only do so much against hard-wired circadian rhythms. It gives you a sense of the book’s bleakness that this counts as one of its consolations.....In dystopic fiction, the future is all resource wars and extreme climates. A more bland but equally plausible dread is what Walker calls an “epidemic” of sleeplessness, with humans paradoxically locked into a trance of exhaustion even as technology makes their physical burdens easier and ever easier.
aging  books  circadian_rhythms  exhaustion  Janan_Ganesh  mens'_health  sleep  sleeplessness 
february 2018 by jerryking
Guardiola: what Britain can learn from football’s philosopher king
Janan Ganesh

JANUARY 5, 2018

Guardiola’s mastery of the English Premier League is a chastening moment in national life. His foreignness is beside the point. The most cosmopolitan league in the world’s most global game is used to coaches, owners and players of exotic provenance. The sore point is his footballing style, or “philosophy”, as the sport grandiloquently puts it. He cherishes skill over physicality, baroque passing patterns over aerial punts, detailed tactics over raw volume of sweat. In short, he rejects what used to be known as the British way.
soccer  strategic_thinking  Janan_Ganesh  cosmopolitan  English_Premier_League 
january 2018 by jerryking
Open books, open borders
OCTOBER 20, 2017 | FT| Janan Ganesh.

The globalised Booker also confirms this medium-sized country’s knack for cultural decorations — degrees from its universities, air time on the BBC — that are coveted worldwide. The unfakeable emotion from Saunders and Beatty upon receipt of the prize was a larger compliment to Britain and its soft power than a Booker for one of its own would have been.....There is a strategic imperative to open up that goes beyond the aesthetic one. As the gap narrows between the superpower and the rest, it becomes more important for America to understand the outside world. Better foreign news coverage can help, but mere politics is downstream of culture. The real prize is to comprehend another country’s thought patterns, speech rhythms, historic ghosts and unconscious biases — and these seep out from the stories it tells and the way it tells them....Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker cites the spread of literacy as a reason for the long-term decline of human violence. To read another person’s story is to end up with a larger “circle of sympathy”. But even if America’s concern is the narrowest raison d’état, rather than world peace, it would profit from reading beyond its borders.

The minimum return is that more American readers would have more fun. The headiest writing tends to come from places that are ascendant enough to matter but raw enough to retain some measure of dramatic chaos: 19th-century Britain and Russia, mid-20th-century America, and now, perhaps, early 21st-century Asia. It is not just in economics that protectionism stifles.
books  cosmopolitan  cross-cultural  cultural_products  empathy  fiction  George_Saunders  Janan_Ganesh  literature  Man_Booker  middle-powers  national_identity  novels  open_borders  open_mind  parochialism  prizes  protectionism  reading  soft_power  storytelling  United_Kingdom  writers 
november 2017 by jerryking
Le Carré and other cold war comforts
SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 Janan Ganesh 39 comments
In John le Carré
John_le_Carré  Janan_Ganesh  Cold_War 
november 2017 by jerryking
Why do entrepreneurs get such a bad rap?
26 Aug. 2017, p. 2. I Financial Times pg. 15 | by Janan Ganesh. "

Richard Branson's battle to establish Virgin Atlantic against British Airways in the 1980s was a better story than anything politic...
entrepreneur  creative_types  Janan_Ganesh  Richard_Branson 
november 2017 by jerryking
The two faces of the 1 per cent
August 19, 2017 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.

On top of its book sales, film adaptation and third life as an opera, The Bonfire of the Vanities achieved a rare feat. It turned its author into a 56-year-old enfant terrible. Thirty years have passed since Tom Wolfe’s first novel imagined New York City as an opulent failed state, where millionaires are one wrong turn from barbarian mobs and race card-players on the make.
....Bonfire can be read as a book about two different kinds of elite. You might characterise them as the moneyed and the cultured. Or as private enterprise and public life.....there is a real split among urbanites, who are too often grouped together. It is one that has been lost in the negative obsession with the elite in recent years. Think of it as the difference between the two LSEs — the London Stock Exchange and the London School of Economics — or the stereotypical FT reader and the stereotypical FT writer.

When populists attack elites, they conflate people who work in the media, the arts, politics, academia and some areas of the law with entrepreneurs, investment bankers and internationally mobile corporate professionals. The Brexit campaign defined itself against high finance but also against human rights QCs and know-it-all actors — as if these fields were one.

I commit this elision in my own columns and I should know better. By dint of my job, I meet people in each world (plus a few supple characters who bestride both) and they are different. The public elite tend to the liberal left. The private elite are apolitical swing voters. Each side has little idea what the other lot does all day. They have different tastes, different idioms and they dominate different parts of their cities.

Even in London, a New York-Los Angeles-Washington hybrid in its centralisation of the public and the private, the two clans rub against each other (at the opera, at Arsenal’s stadium) without blending into one. Until Brexit put them on the same side, the cultural elite often viewed the moneyed as the enemy — mauling the skyline, pricing them out of Hampstead. Above all, each group has its own insecurity. The public elite nurse constant material worries. Despite their membership of the economic 1 per cent (something they will deny even as you show them the graphs) they fear for their foothold in expensive cities......The private elite worry that they are not very interesting. I have seen tycoons cringe in the presence of niche-interest authors. Some attempt late-career entries into public life, often through the publication of a political treatise or some involvement in the arts. Executives follow “thought leaders” who are less intelligent than they are. Politicians know the type: the loaded donor who fears to leave a campaign meeting in case a couple of young advisers, who do not earn a six-figure salary between them, mock his unoriginal contribution.

Other differences are surprising. The public elite talk a wonderful game about diversity and work in fields that have a better balance of women and men. But the private elite tend to work among more races and nationalities: some trading floors look like 1980s Benetton commercials. The same seems true of social background. I would advise a young graduate without relatives in high places to choose corporate life over the media....Creativity is more precious than wealth. There is a reason why the most fashionable members’ clubs admit freelance graphic designers, who live hand-to-mouth, and black ball superstar bankers. In a sense, Fallow’s total victory over McCoy is classic Wolfe: it lacks the nuance of great art, but it gets at a truth.
Bonfire_of_the_Vanities  Tom_Wolfe  fiction  writers  enfant_terrible  New_York_City  novels  the_One_Percent  elitism  Janan_Ganesh  insecurities  hand-to-mouth  LSE  superstars 
august 2017 by jerryking
The charismatic lord of chaos
November 2015 | FT | Janan Ganesh.

“More time to study”, Mourinho theorises, is what makes undistinguished footballers great managers. ...knew early on that management was his calling....Already multingual and obsessed by the fine margins that decide matches, he left business school after a day to study sports science at the Technical University of Lisbon.From there he chased coaching qualifications and passed through several clubs until a beguiling offer came in 1992. Bobby Robson, Sporting Lisbon's new English manager, needed an interpreter. The job would divert Mourinho from coaching but would acquaint him with a wise elder of the game.... Proximity to megastars taught him his tactical mastery would amount to nothing without the charisma to bend millionaires to his will. He took the education home, where he worked his way to Porto as head coach.....The Mourinho method blends logic with emotion. The coach wins by devising sophisticated game plans, but also by creating an intense working atmosphere that eventually burns itself out.
soccer  coaching  strategic_thinking  questions  logic_&_reasoning  emotions  Janan_Ganesh 
november 2015 by jerryking

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