Monday, May 21, 2007


The target link is an explanation of Paul Wolfowitz's problem. Short summary: Wolfy is a math guy, and math guys see the world in black and whites, and that ain't good for consensus building.

I reckon there's some merit in that argument somewhere, but I don't really think math guys are incapable of seeing other people's opinions. I know plenty of math cats who are perfectly able to interact with people normally, and are vital parts of a team. Just like I know humanities cats who can't be budged from their opinions. People who can't see the other sides of things and who don't listen to others can be found in every field in every profession. We all know them, because many of them are that guy in any room they walk into, and not in a good way.

In a related article (also from Slate), Christopher Hitchens waxes on about how Wolfowitz did nothing to deserve the scandal that has now driven him out of the World Bank. Maybe not. But it don't take much to bring that guy down.

I got a better response to both articles: if you spend your career being an asshole to everyone but your own pals and cronies, the people who are not your pals and cronies will wait in the tall grass for their chance to getcha. And you gonna get got, and here's why - there are way more of them than there are of you.

To put it in math terms for all the math folks out there, if x = your pals and cronies and y = people who are not your pals and cronies and z = people you have been an asshole to over the course of your career, you are left with this very simple equation:

x < yz

For those of us who are not math guys, there are many parables and sayings that explain the same thing.

What goes around comes around.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Be nice or leave.
Payback is a bitch.
Don't $#!+ where you eat.
If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, you ARE the sucker.

Or the corrolary to that; if you think everyone else at the table is a sucker, you are either the sucker, or you are surrounded by idiots (which is almost the same thing as are the usual results).

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