Not long afterward, Mann posted a self-reflective essay on 43 Folders, in which he revealed a growing dissatisfaction with the world of personal productivity. Productivity pr0n, he suggested, was becoming a bewildering, complexifying end in itself—list-making as a “cargo cult,” system-tweaking as an addiction. “On more than a few days, I wondered what, precisely, I was trying to accomplish,” he wrote. Part of the problem was the recursive quality of his work. Refining his productivity system so that he could blog more efficiently about productivity made him feel as if he were being “tossed around by a menacing Rube Goldberg device” of his own design; at times, he said, “I thought I might be losing my mind.” He also wondered whether, on a substantive level, the approach that he’d been following was really capable of addressing his frustrations. It seemed to him that it was possible to implement many G.T.D.-inflected life hacks without feeling “more competent, stable, and alive.” He cleaned house, deleting posts. A new “About” page explained that 43 Folders was no longer a productivity blog but a “website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.”
30 December, 2020
29 December, 2020
Advancement in many political, economic, and scientific careers was granted only to those who repressed their personal opinions, avoided conflict, and displayed unquestioning obedience to those above them. By the midseventies, this blind conformism had smothered individual decision-making at all levels of the state and Party machine, infecting not just the bureaucracy but technical and economic disciplines, too. Lies and deception were endemic to the system, trafficked in both directions along the chain of management: those lower down passed up reports to their superiors packed with falsified statistics and inflated estimates, of unmet goals triumphantly reached, unfulfilled quotas heroically exceeded. To protect his own position, at every stage, each manager relayed the lies upward or compounded them.
Seated at the top of a teetering pyramid of falsehood, poring over reams of figures that had little basis in reality, were the economic mandarins of the State General Planning Committee—Gosplan—in Moscow. The brain of the “command economy,” Gosplan managed the centralized distribution of resources throughout the USSR, from toothbrushes to tractors, reinforced concrete to platform boots. Yet the economists in Moscow had no reliable index of what was going on in the vast empire they notionally maintained; the false accounting was so endemic that at one point the KGB resorted to turning the cameras of its spy satellites onto Soviet Uzbekistan in an attempt to gather accurate information about the state’s own cotton harvest.
Shortages and apparently inexplicable gluts of goods and materials were part of the grim routine of daily life, and shopping became a game of chance played with a string avoska, or “what-if” bag, carried in the hope of stumbling upon a store recently stocked with anything useful—whether sugar, toilet paper, or canned ratatouille from Czechoslovakia. Eventually the supply problems of the centrally planned economy became so chronic that crops rotted in the fields, and Soviet fishermen watched catches putrefy in their nets, yet the shelves of the Union’s grocery stores remained bare.
27 December, 2020
“It was a huge camp,” she recalled. “There were about 10,000 women with shaved heads, of whom only about 60 were over 60. Most of them were young, pretty, well brought up.”
Take, for example, the response to the racial reckoning in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. You might be spending more time listening to lawyers than prophets if you’re more familiar—seven months later—with the flaws of Critical Race Theory than with the details of wealth gaps, achievement gaps, or with the systematic violations of civil rights that are all too common in marginalized communities.
It’s not easy to find (or listen to) the prophetic voice. I’ve had to learn from painful experience to listen to voices from outside the comfortable confines of my own spiritual cocoon. It’s a source of personal shame, for example, that I couldn’t clearly perceive the realities of contemporary American racism until it was directed at my own daughter, and I was shocked out of my spiritual complacency.
American Christian culture is rife with congregants looking for lawyers, not prophets and not pastors. The church-shopping phenomenon puts us in churches that make us feel quite comfortable, and the sheer number of available congregations (especially in the South and parts of the Midwest) makes us quite mobile. From all too many members of the congregation comes the cry, “Tell us what we want to hear!”
The United States has, by far, the best ocean access of any other nation. There are thousands of miles of coastline on both the Atlantic and the Pacific. This gives the USA unmatched ability to trade in every direction at a much lower cost than pretty much every other country.
"They borrowed from ISIS's playbook and they learned how to radicalize people online," she says. In the post-Sept. 11 United States, domestic extremists also adopted an emphasis on smaller attacks that could be carried out quickly with limited planning. What Neumann saw was "the pivot to bring your own weapon to the fight, use whatever you have: a knife, a gun, a vehicle, vehicle ramming," she says. "We've seen a number of vehicle rammings this summer, in fact."
But unlike the urgent interagency response to ISIS, Neumann says there was no clear effort to combat violent extremists on the right.
"If you had a very clear voice at the top, from the president, from other senior leaders in the Republican Party, denouncing this and warning conservatives — warning Republicans — that these groups are trying to recruit you based on things that might sound like a typical conservative belief, but behind it is this insidious, ugly, evil thing, if we had more clear voices talking about it — it would somewhat inoculate people from that recruitment and that radicalization," she says. "But instead, we have the opposite effect. We have the president not only pretty much refusing to condemn, but throwing fuel on the fire, creating opportunities for more recruitment through his rhetoric."
"There are no easy answers, even if they're carrying guns and wearing body armor," Dempsey said. "We've got to get past that and be wary of the idea of militarism that doesn't lead to a common conception of service, but leads to the kind of tribalism where we have to protect ourselves and our families by force against those we disagree with."
On the conference call, the analysts agreed that the leftist fringe also is hardening and promoting its own conspiracies. But they said there's simply no equivalency with the right in terms of the volume of disinformation and conspiracy, or in its connections to violent acts.
"There is a monetization of outrage on both sides," Neumann said, "but in particular the conservative infotainment sector makes money off of that outrage."
26 December, 2020
“China has a politically weaponized system of censorship; it is refined, organized, coordinated and supported by the state’s resources,” said Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, and the founder of China Digital Times. “It’s not just for deleting something. They also have a powerful apparatus to construct a narrative and aim it at any target with huge scale.”
24 December, 2020
3. If a reader doesn’t understand what you are trying to say, that is your fault — not the reader’s.
Sometimes I complain about cranky emails I receive from people who misread something I wrote. Then I remember Mr. Greco’s dictum that the burden of clarity is always on the writer.
Dense, incomprehensible prose is not an indicator of intellect. It signals that a writer doesn’t sufficiently understand the subject matter or was too lazy to write something clearer.
22 December, 2020
Even casual interactions with friends often include moments where Emersyn’s otherness is apparent. Like that day in a coffee shop when one of Kylie’s acquaintances noted how cute Emersyn was and added: “I want one.” All Kylie could think was, no, adopting a Black child is not some trend, her daughter is not an accessory there to be dehumanized.
The hard parts of Mormonism—huffing up hills in a white shirt and tie, forgoing coffee, paying tithes—might complicate the sales pitch. But they can also inspire acts of courage. After Romney voted to remove Trump from office—standing alone among Republican senators—he told me his life in the Church had steeled him for this lonely political moment, in which neither the right nor the left is ever happy with him for long. “One of the advantages of growing up in my faith outside of Utah is that you are different in ways that are important to you,” he said. In high school, he was the only Mormon on campus; during his stint at Stanford, he would go to bars with his friends and drink soda. Small moments like those pile up over a lifetime, he told me, so that when a true test of conscience arrives, “you’re not in a position where you don’t know how to stand for something that’s hard.”
In Mormon circles, Romney’s impeachment vote was fodder for another round of “white horse” jokes. But the reality, of course, is that America will never be “saved” by a single person, or even a single group. What holds the country together is its conviction in certain ideals—community, democracy, mutual sacrifice—that it once possessed, and now urgently needs to reclaim. If Mormonism has anything to offer that effort, it will have to come from a confident Church, one that is unafraid of owning up to its mistakes and embracing what makes it distinct.
A cybercriminal can also get paid by a competitor to expose data, or to change the configuration so the data is exposed publicly to make that company look bad. The Capital One breach in 2019 involved a former Amazon employee, actually. Capital One suffered a huge embarrassment in the press. But unfortunately, as with the Experian data breach in 2015, the Capital One incident showed that the markets are very forgiving of data breaches, because the people who are most victimized by them are poor people who have no idea how to control their data anyway, and didn't even know what it means to have their data breached.
17 December, 2020
She cut her hair, dyed it and disguised herself as a pollster, a health worker and an election official to get their names and addresses. She invented excuses to meet their families, unsuspecting grandmothers and cousins who gave her details, however small. She wrote everything down and stuffed it into her black computer bag, building her investigation and tracking them down, one by one.
This was really part of much, much larger forces that are at work, and they may or may not be consciously malicious . . . This is the result of city policy, of other kinds of large-scale things that systematically cripple or dismember a community. Some neighborhoods are “fed.” Others are bled.
The social web is doing exactly what it was built for. Facebook does not exist to seek truth and report it, or to improve civic health, or to hold the powerful to account, or to represent the interests of its users, though these phenomena may be occasional by-products of its existence. The company’s early mission was to “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Instead, it took the concept of “community” and sapped it of all moral meaning. The rise of QAnon, for example, is one of the social web’s logical conclusions. That’s because Facebook—along with Google and YouTube—is perfect for amplifying and spreading disinformation at lightning speed to global audiences. Facebook is an agent of government propaganda, targeted harassment, terrorist recruitment, emotional manipulation, and genocide—a world-historic weapon that lives not underground, but in a Disneyland-inspired campus in Menlo Park, California.
16 December, 2020
Myths about Tunisia – cradle of the protest movements, the lone success story, flag-bearer for Arab democracy – crumble the further one drives from the country’s Mediterranean coastline into the neglected hinterlands whose rage fuelled the ousting from power of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the long-serving authoritarian president, in January 2011.
Ten years later, Tunisian is a democracy. It has withstood assassinations, terrorist attacks and the ideological gulfs of its leaders, at crucial moments pulling back from the precipice of returning to authoritarian rule, as happened in Egypt, and of civil war, as in Syria, Yemen and Libya.
Tunisians are freer to criticise their leaders than before, and their elections are honest. Yet people are miserable and disillusioned, joining jihadi groups in among the largest numbers per capita of any country in the world, and making up the majority of boat-borne migrants to Italy this year.
Between 1974 and 2005, a majority of states became democratic for the first time in history. However, a global democratic recession began in 2006 and has persisted – and deepened – over the past 14 years. Not only have average levels of freedom (or democratic quality) been declining globally and in most parts of the world, but the pace of democratic breakdown accelerated and the number of democratic transitions declined, particularly in the past five years. Democratic regression is particularly visible among the G-20 countries and other most populous and geopolitically weighty countries, 19 of which have declined in freedom during the democratic recession, with only two improving. The principal method of democratic regression has been incremental strangulation of democracy by elected (typically populist) executives who gradually eviscerate institutional checks, political opposition, independent media, and other forces of scrutiny and resistance in civil society. Weak and declining rule of law has predisposed regimes to democratic regression, enabling ambitious rulers to hollow out political competition. But international factors have also been crucial, generating common economic and social stresses while lifting the constraints and lowering the risks autocrats face as they inaugurate or accelerate the slide into authoritarianism.
14 December, 2020
At the same time as money is essentially free for those who have money and creditworthiness, it is essentially unavailable to those who don’t have money and creditworthiness, which contributes to the rising wealth, opportunity, and political gaps. Also contributing to these gaps are the technological advances that investors and the entrepreneurs that I previously mentioned are excited by in the ways I described, and that also replace workers with machines. Because the “trickle-down” process of having money at the top trickle down to workers and others by improving their earnings and creditworthiness is not working, the system of making capitalism work well for most people is broken.
On the inside, covering every tiny move in the story, it was mainly exhausting. I escaped Long Covid in 2020, but I may have Long Brexit. Just thinking about the endless days and nights covering this vote or those talks makes me feel ill, overwhelmed by a mix of exhaustion and anxiety.
Mainly, it was stupid. I don’t so much mean the vote to leave as everything that followed. Unutterably, unfathomably, unbelievably stupid.
12 December, 2020
This advice is written with love for people facing a nightmare. This is not a condemnation of the doctors and nurses and aides who are doing their best in an impossible situation — this entire situation is a condemnation of policymakers who know exactly how to stop the spread and are not.
If you came here for this advice, it means you’re likely in the midst of a horrific experience, and I am so, so sorry. I’ve been there, and I’m rooting for you. A member of my immediate family contracted covid through community spread early this spring while hospitalized. There were a number of times where the hospital was overrun, they were intubated, and we were told to say goodbye.* This is what I wish I had known then.
10 December, 2020
In lieu of flowers the family requests that you simply wear a mask when you are out in public and practice social distancing. It is not a difficult thing to do. It is not an infringement on your freedom or civil liberties. It is literally the least, smallest thing you can do to help reduce the risk that vulnerable members of our community will die unnecessarily and leave their loved ones heartbroken and devastated.
Experts in authoritarianism advise keeping a list of things changing, subtly, around you, so you’ll remember. Days after the 2016 presidential election, I started a list. Each week, I chronicle the ways Donald Trump has changed our country. This selection, adapted from more than 34,000 entries — or about 1 percent of the total — focuses on the norms he and his administration have broken. The List offers us a road map back to normalcy and democracy.
07 December, 2020
Former Alabama state senator dies of Covid at 78, warns in last words, 'We messed up' "We let our guards down. Please tell everybody to be careful. This is real, and if you get diagnosed, get help immediately," former Sen. Larry Dixon said.
A former Alabama state senator died of Covid-19 last week at age 78, officials said.
06 December, 2020
In conversations with more than two dozen Michigan insiders—elected officials, party elders, consultants, activists—it became apparent how the state’s conditions were ripe for this sort of slow-motion disaster. Michigan is home to Detroit, an overwhelmingly majority Black city, that has always been a favorite punching bag of white Republicans. The state had viral episodes of conflict and human error that were easily manipulated and deliberately misconstrued. It drew special attention from the highest levels of the party, and for the president, it had the potential to settle an important score with his adversary, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Perhaps most important, Trump’s allies in Michigan proved to be more career-obsessed, and therefore more servile to his whims, than GOP officials in any other state he has cultivated during his presidency, willing to indulge his conspiratorial fantasies in ways other Republicans weren’t.
05 December, 2020
So I should not have been surprised when it turned out that Xi was no reformer. Over the course of his tenure, the regime has degenerated further into a political oligarchy bent on holding on to power through brutality and ruthlessness. It has grown even more repressive and dictatorial. A personality cult now surrounds Xi, who has tightened the party’s grip on ideology and eliminated what little space there was for political speech and civil society. People who haven’t lived in mainland China for the past eight years can hardly understand how brutal the regime has become, how many quiet tragedies it has authored. After speaking out against the system, I learned it was no longer safe for me to live in China.
04 December, 2020
Mainer here. Yes, we have lots of idiots here but I wouldn’t credit them for Collins’ victory. Maine is a weird and wonderful place - if you want a gun you can just go to the store and buy a gun, and if you want weed you can buy weed just as easily as you can buy a gun. I hope that kind of primes you for thinking a little outside the box about the state and understanding the people a little better
A significant portion of the electorate in Maine is really proud to be fluid in their affiliations, to the point where party loyalty hasn’t really existed in recent memory, so it was always going to be an uphill battle to vote her out by telling voters to go blue no matter who, for starters. Another significant portion of the electorate are conservative minded folks who are genuinely ignorant to the world outside of their little bubble.
Next up you have her record. “She votes with Trump X% of the time” is one of the things the Democrat campaign tried to run against her with, but that’s a disingenuous argument because she voted with Obama a significant percentage as well. Above both of those points, a representative is supposed to vote in favor of her constituents interests regardless of who is president and their party affiliation - while she may have shifted to the dark side in the past four years, her career record tracks for the most part in line with the interests of Maine. Overall, she’s been good for Maine during her career.
Lastly, and I say this as someone who wanted so so so badly for Collins to lose, the Democrats here ran a really poor campaign against her. First, the corporate Dems squashed the actual exciting progressive candidate, Kidman, in favor of center-left Gideon (Sweet was another progressive candidate with some great ideals but she has some...let’s say highly questionable beliefs as well). Pitting a centrist candidate against another basically comes down to who is more well-liked in the state because at the end of the day they are more or less the same candidate, and that is what handed Collins the election. On top of that, the campaign they ran didn’t focus much on Gideon’s policy, it was all negative attacks on Collins - because her policy wasn’t really too far off from Collins. Also, as hicky as it sounds, the Dems not having a native Mainer as their candidate didn’t help much either.
I’m disappointed that Collins won as much as anyone else, and this election was the Dems’ to lose and they blew it just as they blow so many other elections by trying to force corporate non-progressives down our throats.
I hope this provided a little insight into what happened here. I’ll admit that I’m very disappointed in my fellow Mainers and the polarization I’ve seen take over so many of my coworkers and neighbors over the past four years. I really hope there is some kind of mass deprogramming effort to bring these people back to reality because the people of this state have become very scarily divided and uncharacteristically un-neighborly as of late.
02 December, 2020
WASHINGTON (AP) — Increasingly detached from reality, President Donald Trump stood before a White House lectern and delivered a 46-minute diatribe against the election results that produced a win for Democrat Joe Biden, unspooling one misstatement after another to back his baseless claim that he really won.