A fantastic piece by Peter Van Buren.
My daughter’s birthday falls on the very day that George W Bush launched the invasion of Iraq. I missed her celebration in 2003 to stay at work preparing for the embassy to be overrun by al-Qaida. I missed her birthday again in 2005, having been sent on temporary duty to Thailand to assist the US navy in setting up a short-term base there. When the naval officers mentioned the location they wanted to use to the Thai military liaison accompanying us, he laughed. That’s taken, he said, but you didn’t hear it from me, better ask your own people about it.
Later, I would learn that the location was a CIA black site where the country I then represented was torturing human beings.
Looking back, it’s remarkable to realize that, in response to a single day of terror, Washington set the Middle East ablaze, turned air travel into a form of bondage play, and did away with the best of our democracy.
Great piece by Nicholas D. Mirzoeff.
Something I did not know:
Under Jim Crow, the allegation of “reckless eyeballing” meant any look from a black person at a white person, especially a woman. It was used to justify deadly force.
I never understood the context and origin of the question “You eyeballin’ me, boy?”. Now I do.
Another fantastic piece by FiveThirtyEight.
Understanding the massive college-church divide helps explain why this election feels less like a debate over policy and more like a war of worldviews.
A great read, and well worth the time.
Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis, on the shift away from annual performance appraisals:
The whole appraisal process was loathed by employees anyway. Social science research showed that they hated numerical scores—they would rather be told they were “average” than given a 3 on a 5-point scale. They especially detested forced ranking. As Wharton’s Iwan Barankay demonstrated in a field setting, performance actually declined when people were rated relative to others. Nor did the ratings seem accurate. As the accumulating research on appraisal scores showed, they had as much to do with who the rater was (people gave higher ratings to those who were like them) as they did with performance.
And managers hated doing reviews, as survey after survey made clear. Willis Towers Watson found that 45% did not see value in the systems they used. Deloitte reported that 58% of HR executives considered reviews an ineffective use of supervisors’ time. In a study by the advisory service CEB, the average manager reported spending about 210 hours—close to five weeks—doing appraisals each year.
Bears re-stating, over 15 years later.
One of the odder comments I’ve heard in the debate on Internet voting is the following: “If we can protect multi-billion-dollar e-commerce transactions on the Internet, certainly we can protect elections” (or words to that effect). I’ve heard it so often that I feel the need to explain why it isn’t true.
Another excellent piece by Waleed Aly:
The thing that makes Hanson such a conundrum for this Parliament is that, much like Donald Trump, none of the traditional tools will work. You can’t bludgeon this out of existence, but you can’t reason it away either. This Parliament – indeed this country – seems divided in a way we haven’t really seen before. People don’t simply disagree now: they inhabit different universes. Walk out or don’t, that won’t change.
I love Half-Life 2, but this article fit my feelings perfectly.
The sequel just never felt like it had the heart the original did, and the original ending remains one of my most disliked endings in all of gaming (behind Mass Effect 3, obviously).
Half-Life 2 is a fantastic game from a gameplay perspective, fortunately.
What’s great about this is how it all feels earned. Gordon has gone from a dope nobody likes to a guy who, through the experiences in the game itself, is a hardcore survivor and all around action hero. It’s silent character development, and a huge aspect of Half-Life’s appeal. Gordon’s journey isn’t just geographical, it’s emotional.
Half-Life 2 is terrible. Within minutes, other characters are fangirling over you, like they knew you or something. Why? Because you left a secret base shortly before a nuclear explosion. Seriously, there were no witnesses to your defeat of the Nihilanth at the end of Half-Life, and even if there were, they should, reasonably, object to what you did, because in Half-Life 2, apparently the Nihilanth wasn’t so much a bad guy as a rebel against the Combine, the actual bad guys in the Half-Life 2 universe.
Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act – Australia’s federal hate speech law – has tended to dominate public debate about free speech for the last few years. This has meant other important laws that restrict free speech in broad ways are being overlooked.
While the 18C debate has raged, important new restrictions on freedom of speech have been introduced in Australia. These have flown much further under the radar.
Some of the most strident critics of 18C are also those in favour of the detention centre gag orders. I wonder why?
A fantastic piece by Hannah Kent:
My father once admitted to me that, before he was a parent, he would have wished for sons over daughters. But, he added, having my sister and me challenged his thinking.
One day, attending our school assembly, he had realised that the boys’ sporting results were always read out before the girls. It was the uncomfortable epiphany that initiated my father’s troubled awareness of the broader problem of gender inequality, and his own misperceptions.
I was recently responsible for posting weekly results for my local Volleyball club, and made a point of alternating the order each week.
I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but that wasn’t the point. It’s a small thing, but small things add up.
Speaking of Ben Thompson, this podcast is one of the best I’ve heard all year. It was released way back in April, and has been sitting in my queue ever since. I’m very glad I finally got around to listening to it.
Thompson goes into quite a bit of detail about his life leading up to starting Stratechery, including some candid discussion about his political views shifting over time.