Agbogbloshie and Formalizing the Supply Chain

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Shlok Vaidya  -  

…a scrap yard at the impossibly teeming Agbogbloshie market in Ghana’s capital, mining — along with hundreds of men and boys — for metal wires and parts that can be re-sold and burning the plastic that encases them. Hour after hour, their clanking tools pound apart computers and video game consoles that were discarded in the United States and Europe and shipped here to rot.

Demand drives supply. Supplies diminish. Over time, we recycle not because of altruism, but for profit, and as we melt away from advanced markets, who recycles, and how, expands to include anyone seeking profit. This is the ad-hoc infrastructure provision that fascinates futurists. As your average slum will substantiate, it’s filled with ingenuity, it has to be. It’s humans at work. Little pretense. Social order is organic, not rigorously structured.

For that simple reason, those ad-hoc supply chains will formalize, and the Uber, but for Copper, will have its own app, instead of a kid with a hammer handing it off to a brother in a rickshaw who delivers it to an uncle at the factory.


Extending Security, Extending Governance

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The service is essentially a geolocation-enabled emergency notification system which acts as an extension of one’s home alarm system.

Security, the protection of the physical self and property, was a service provided once by kings, then by nation-states. The theory of monopoly of violence.

A theory because there are no perfect monopolies. Not a hard shift, but blurry, gray transition, as time is wont to do.  Still, you don’t need to pack heat to protect the pasture, because there’s police departments and FBIs and CIAs and a DHS and a DoD. The point of providing violence as a service was so as to remove it from the day to day, and in turn, let humans unlock economic progress, better the species, enable more babies, and their survival.

Small, nimble, violence providers have challenged that monopoly. They found an alternative means of improving their station in life, of upward mobility, by flying planes into buildings. Detonating our buses. Triggering wars, underpinning economies of violence, exploiting it all to expand their reach.

And, even as we fight the good fight, it becomes clear that this is a chronic, not an acute illness. Unlike the wars of our fathers, this is without end. And, it will give rise to a new generation of governance.

One where security is provided for a fee. Without the trappings of a state. It’s not shrouded in taxes and flags. It’s not decorated uniforms. It’s black armor. It’s a giant red button on your phone. It’s not sirens, it’s a black helo, it’s fast-roping, and its security, violence incarnate, exactly where you need it, when you need it. It is not laws and solving for after the fact, violence as a service, now.

It’s firing one company by deleting it from your phone, and claiming the services of another pseudo-state by downloading another. It’s reading five-star app reviews describing rape-prevention and taking down a drone-stalker.

It’s reading 1-star reviews, penned by family members, where these new governments failed.



On Phase Shifts

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Shlok Vaidya  -  

We go through phase shifts.

You apply work, and luck, and network to whatever you’re doing. Complexity builds. As it does, you can glimpse the adjacent future, what could be next, the phase after this. And it builds and it builds. And, as is natural, complexity shakes out to simplicity. The applications, the dates, the words, turn into the job, the relationship, the book.

I’ve done this professionally a few times. From school to terror, from terror to tech, from tech to music, from music to corporate, from writing to writing. The process clarifies over time. The goals don’t. They’re opaque until they’re not.

This is the first time I’ve done it on a personal level. Purposefully give no fucks, meet anybody and everybody, drink too much, don’t work as much as I used to/should, read less, watch more. Generally move forward but try to act without purpose. Do instead of think. Do instead of plot. Fail without noticing instead of fail with everything. Randomness. Chaos. New complexity at every step. Line up opportunities instead of executing on them.

The result is new, good friends, amazing girls new, and old, and interesting work.

It’s been a while since I wrote something here. Or anywhere, really. But moreso now than when it was the work expected of me, I’m writing. On warfare, on ambition, on technology. All while I’m at the heart of a desperate attempt to turn around 80-year-old, half-a-billion-dollar turnaround that touches hundreds of millions of people every day.

I won’t promise more, or even regular public writing. The complexity is still building. But I see what could be, and that my words are the means.

There’s a shift ahead.


Scorched Earth

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Hawaii, USA, 2014.

(Pictures below the fold.)

$150 Audiophile Headphone System

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Music makes things happen in my life – cooking, writing, sex, working out. (There’s a reason I’ve worked for two music-focused companies.)

And the tools that make that happen are important to me – speakers, headphones, amps. Audiophile equipment is one of those nerdy things I like to dig into, spend too much time researching, and find bargains that get me high dollar sound without spending a lot.

Anyway, I’ve built a 2.1 home system and a headphone system for working, all in, for about $500 or so. That’s how much people spend on just headphones.

Today I’m covering my $150 headphone system.

Three components:

  • Headphones.
  • Cables, adapters. Connect to your source and your headphones.
  • Headphone amplifier. Enhance the quality of your headphone output.

Headphones. DBI-700. $45-$60 shipped. They’re competitive with headphones at the $250+ level. I’m not the only one to say so. And they’re built like tanks. Apparently record stores use them, but as those blink out of existence, liquidators are getting them out the door for cheap. You can find them on eBay. Or someone may sell them over at headfi.org

They sound pretty good un-amped, but with an…

Amplifier. $108 shipped. Schiit. It’s sexy. It’s small. It’s well built. It makes your headphones sound fucking amazing.

Cables, adapters. I like Monoprice. It feels meaty, its cheap, and it’s delivered to your door. You need a standard 3.5mm headphone jack to RCA adapter. And if you lost your headphone’s 3.55 to 6.55mm, you need one of those too (Radio Shack of all places is best).

All in: $160, shipped. It’s competitive with systems ~$500+.

300% ROI isn’t bad.