How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind   ƶ

Another bit of essential reading by David Wong, and it applies to Australia as well. Well worth the time.

It feels good to dismiss people, to mock them, to write them off as deplorables. But you might as well take time to try to understand them, because I’m telling you, they’ll still be around long after Trump is gone.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Trump, the GOP, and the Fall   ƶ

John Scalzi:

Note well: Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich. Trump’s road to the candidacy was laid down and paved by the Southern Strategy, by Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, by Fox News and the Tea Party, and by the smirking cynicism of three generations of GOP operatives, who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake. […]

But they don’t control Trump, which they are currently learning to their great misery. And the reason the GOP doesn’t control Trump is that they no longer control their base. The GOP trained their base election cycle after election cycle to be disdainful of government and to mistrust authority, which ultimately is an odd thing for a political party whose very rationale for existence is rooted in the concept of governmental authority to do. The GOP created a monster, but the monster isn’t Trump. The monster is the GOP’s base. Trump is the guy who stole their monster from them, for his own purposes.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

'This is on you': John Oliver ridicules Republicans over Trump groping tape   ƶ

John Oliver absolutely killed it on Monday night:

“Oliver concluded by reiterating what Clinton argued in the debate: that the contents of the video are “entirely in character” for Trump. Oliver warned that Trump isn’t going anywhere, even as GOP members flee his ticket.

“This is happening,” Oliver said. “And, in a way, perhaps we have been always heading towards this historic moment. The first female presidential nominee versus the human embodiment of every backwards, condescending, Mad Men-esque boys’ club attitude that has ever existed, rolled into one giant, salivating dick-size-referencing, pussy-grabbing warthog in a red power tie.

“I’ll put it this way: if American democracy is a computer game, and Hillary is completing women’s 100-year quest to get to the Oval Office, it kind of makes sense that this would be the final boss.”

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Stop Trying to Fix the User   ƶ

An excellent piece by Bruce Schneier:

Every few years, a researcher replicates a security study by littering USB sticks around an organization’s grounds and waiting to see how many people pick them up and plug them in, causing the autorun function to install innocuous malware on their computers. These studies are great for making security professionals feel superior. The researchers get to demonstrate their security expertise and use the results as “teachable moments” for others. “If only everyone was more security aware and had more security training,” they say, “the Internet would be a much safer place.

Enough of that. The problem isn’t the users: it’s that we’ve designed our computer systems’ security so badly that we demand the user do all of these counterintuitive things. Why can’t users choose easy-to-remember passwords? Why can’t they click on links in emails with wild abandon? Why can’t they plug a USB stick into a computer without facing a myriad of viruses? Why are we trying to fix the user instead of solving the underlying security problem?

Why industrial action was the perfect response to lost reproductive rights in Poland   ƶ

Naomi Chainey, from the “I can’t believe this still needs to be pointed out” section:

Anti-abortion legislation never does much to prevent abortion anywhere it’s introduced. As long as women are shamed for sexuality outside marriage; as long as women are expected to sacrifice financial empowerment on the altar of motherhood; as long as there is rape and violent men using children to control their female partners, women will seek abortions.

Only through the alleviation of that oppression are abortion rates ever successfully reduced. Sexual education and availability of contraception are consistently the mitigating factors. In combination with legal access to safe abortion, these measures empower women to engage with motherhood on their own terms, the societal benefits of which include slowed population growth, reductions in crime and poverty and even environmental welfare.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

How to stop self-sabotage before it stops you   ƶ

This one hit a bit close to home.

Cat Rodie:

When I was 25 I signed up for a 10 kilometre run. I told people I intended to start running and the race was something to aim for. I scheduled a training plan that allowed me to start small and build up to the event. I was all in. Or at least I thought I was.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

How heterosexual couples are protesting marriage inequality   ƶ

Becky Batagol:

Reforming marriage laws will strengthen the institution. It will almost certainly increase the marriage rate among gay and straight couples. The sooner the law changes, the less likely marriage’s decline in Australia will be terminal.

As David Cameron put it:

“Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us. Society is stronger when we make vows to each other and we support each other. I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a conservative.”

'I'm sorry' for war and fear of terrorism: ex-US diplomat's apology to daughter   ƶ

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.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The real story of how Gonski was corrupted   ƶ

Jane Caro:

For those who have forgotten, most Liberal/National-led states other than NSW succumbed to intense political pressure from then-opposition leader Tony Abbott to refuse to sign up to the deal. For the first time in living memory, a bunch of Premiers refused a bucket of money. They did so, to their eternal shame, for political reasons. To put that into perspective, they played political football using the educational chances of their state’s poorest and most vulnerable children as the ball. It is nice to see that all of them, barring Colin Barnett in Western Australia, have since been consigned to history.

How the Jim Crow internet is pushing back against Black Lives Matter   ƶ

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.

Religion And Education Explain The White Vote   ƶ

Another fantastic piece by FiveThirtyEight.

Milo Beckman:

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.

Jobe Watson wears a 'Feminist' cap to press conference   ƶ

Cam Tyeson:

Outside of the bubble, it means very little. But in a world dominated by old boys mentalities and continually plagued by a culture of toxic masculinity and privileged entitlement, spurred on by placing young men on high, infallible pedestals in their prime years of adult development, it means something. And something is better than nothing.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Performance Management Revolution   ƶ

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.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Internet Voting vs. Large-Value e-Commerce   ƶ

Bears re-stating, over 15 years later.

Bruce Schneier:

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.