John Herrman, Slack Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want?, The New York Times (2019-06-19). For employees raised online, Slack looks and feels like a place to socialize. I grew up chatting with friends online and still do, sometimes in scattered Slack rooms. I have also spent the last 10 years at companies where work chat was the norm and observed the arrival of Slack with both relief and suspicion. Finally, a better work chat app. Then: Oh god, this is really how people are going to work, now?
Konstantin Kakaes, What Neil Armstrong Got Wrong, MIT Technology Review (2019-06-26). The Apollo program failed to make such a leap. Its success was in taking the technology of the time as far as it could go, just as the pharaohs built the absolute biggest pyramids they could. It was a monument to ingenuity and to determination. But monuments are, by design and by definition, ends and not beginnings.
Steve Demming, Understanding Fake Agile, Forbes (2019-05-23). Judging from the examples, it appears that "Agile lite" means the adoption of tools and practices of Agile without necessarily deploying them with an Agile mindset. Without an Agile mindset, Agile remains an inert, lifeless set of ceremonies.
Neil Thomas, The Politics of History: Why Anniversaries Matter in China, MacroPolo (2019-06-18). Placing symbolic weight on historical anniversaries is a double-edged sword, however. In non-democratic polities where the government dominates public discourse, political activists often appropriate official commemorations to express dissent or mobilize protest, as such events provide a sanctioned veneer that can restrain or delay government responses. Historical anniversaries also serve as "focal points" for collective action because they help protestors overcome the coordination problem posed by state gags on unapproved information.
Robert McMillan, Her Code Got Humans on the Moon—And Invented Software Itself, Wired (2015-10-13). For Hamilton, programming meant punching holes in stacks of punch cards, which would be processed overnight in batches on a giant Honeywell mainframe computer that simulated the Apollo lander’s work. “We had to simulate everything before it flew,” Hamilton remembers. Once the code was solid, it would be shipped off to a nearby Raytheon facility where a group of women, expert seamstresses known to the Apollo program as the “Little Old Ladies,” threaded copper wires through magnetic rings (a wire going through a core was a 1; a wire going around the core was a 0). Forget about RAM or disk drives; on Apollo, memory was literally hardwired and very nearly indestructible.
Dick Day, Training Considerations of the X-15 Development, NSIA Meeting (1959-11-17). In: Gene Waltman, Black Magic and Gremlins: Analog Flight Simulations at NASA's Flight Research Center, NASA SP-2000-4520 (2000).To train the pilots for the X-15 landing phase, several methods were considered. First, an analog computer was used with an oscilloscope presentation to indicate approach attitude. This gave the pilots and engineers an understanding of the relative importance of the factors affecting the landing flare, but definitely lacked the in-flight realism afforded by the rapid approach of the ground.
Margaret Hamilton, Computer Got Loaded, Datamation (1971-03-01). To blame the computer for the Apollo 11 problem is like blaming the person who spots a fire and calls the fire department. Actually, the computer was programmed to do more than recognize error conditions. A complete set of recovery programs was incorporated into the software. The software's action, in this case, was to eliminate lower priority tasks and re-establish the more important ones. The computer, rather than almost forcing an abort, prevented an abort. If the computer hadn't recognized this problem and taken recovery action, I doubt if Apollo 11 would have been the successful moon landing it was.
Jane Smiley, Wisconsin: Three Visions Attained, The New York Times (1993-03-07). The small, light rooms in both the school and the house invite the contemplation of grandeur rather than the experience of it. The world Wright created for himself suggests a quest for purity and simplicity that seems almost evangelical—an offshoot of the recurrent born-again strain in American culture, but one that expresses itself horizontally and close to the ground rather than vertically, striving to transcend nature and the world
Rajesh Kumar Singh and Andrea Shalal, Who pays Trump's tariffs, China or U.S. customers and companies?, Reuters (2019-05-21). U.S. President Donald Trump says China pays the tariffs he has imposed on $250 billion of Chinese exports to the United States. But that is not how tariffs work. China’s government and companies in China do not pay tariffs directly. Tariffs are a tax on imports. They are paid by U.S.-registered firms to U.S. customs for the goods they import into the United States. Importers often pass the costs of tariffs on to customers - manufacturers and consumers in the United States - by raising their prices. U.S. business executives and economists say U.S. consumers foot much of the bill through rising prices.
Celeste Hoang, Oscar Avalos Dreams in Titanium, Jet Propulsion Laboratory News (2019-05-16). To this day, though, the most rewarding experience for Avalos is still taking high school students on a tour through the machine shop once a month because he can see himself in the kids. "It brings me back to when I was going on these tours," he says. "I tell them to keep their grades up because it opens doors. And I tell my story because you never know - it could happen to them."
Isaac Chotiner, A Journalist on How Anti-Immigrant Fervor Built in the Early Twentieth Century, The New Yorker (2019-05-16). Before eugenics comes into the picture, I think that the attitude toward the Eastern European Jews, specifically, and the Italians, and many other Eastern and Southern European racial groups, was one of errant prejudice, and it was based on what they saw before their eyes, seeing the ghettos in Boston and New York and Washington and Philadelphia. What Jacob Riis saw is what they saw. Riis may have sounded sympathetic, but these people were horrified: “We can’t let this happen to us. We can’t let this happen to our cities. We can’t let this happen to our school systems.” There was an openly prejudicial view that they wanted to save themselves by keeping out “the other.” Today, it’s more ideologically driven than it was then, when there was a very clear visible threat for the Northeastern élite, the Northeastern Wasps who led the anti-immigration movement. They saw something, and it was very measurable. Here, yeah, we have television that we see it on, but, certainly in much of the country, the threat of immigration is not impinging upon people’s lives in any way. Anti-immigrant feeling in the U.S. rises in areas where there are the fewest immigrants.
Anna Garvey, The Oregon Trail Generation: Life before and after mainstream tech, Mashable (2015-05-21). A big part of what makes us the square peg in the round hole of named generations is our strange relationship with technology and the Internet. We came of age just as the very essence of communication was experiencing a seismic shift, and it's given us a unique perspective that's half analog old school and half digital new school.
Fu Danni, Why Dali’s Hippie Migrants Are a Model for Chinese Communities, Sixth Tone (2019-03-19). The development of modern housing estates has destroyed traditional Chinese concepts of neighbors and community. People live in apartment blocks where neighbors rarely interact with each other and sometimes don’t even know who lives next door. We have become the first generation without real neighbors. Now the concept of creating a community atmosphere is gaining traction.
Louise Marburg, No-Man's Land: A Conversation with Andrea Mitchell, The Rumpus (2019-02-22). Troubled people are fascinating to me, yes. When I’ve encountered someone mean or angry or terribly foolish, I’ve always wanted to know why they were that way. Very few people are rotten for no reason (though there certainly are exceptions). Messy lives peppered through with mistakes, sometimes very grave ones, are more interesting. I think, too, that unlikable characters give me a chance as a writer to dig a little deeper to find that redeeming quality buried somewhere beneath all the rubble. There’s a certain reward to that.
Adam Sternbergh, The Embers of Gentrification, New York Magazine (2007-11-09). There are three ways gentrification can burn itself out. One, an economic downturn douses people’s ability or willingness to relocate—the equivalent of dousing a forest fire in retardant foam. Two, the seeders, in search of cheap new space, get driven out of the city entirely—which means the kindling that keeps the fire going has been consumed. Three, the gap between what the seeders seek out and what the harvesters will accept becomes too wide for the cycle to continue—like digging a ditch around a fire that the flames can’t jump across.
Jason Fried, Habits always form, Signal v. Noise (2019-05-22). Habits are always forming. No matter what you do, you’re also forming habits too. Keep that in mind with whatever you do. When we talk about habits, we generally talk about learning good habits. Or forming good habits. Both of these outcomes suggest we can end up with the habits we want. And technically we can! But most of the habits we have are habits we ended up with after years of unconscious behavior. They’re not intentional.
Is Amazon Too Big?, Knowledge@Wharton (2019-05-20). "I think that Amazon is changing so much of the way we think about business," Hamilton said. "A standard problem that a maturing organization runs into is that it starts to get entrenched in the way that it's doing things and then fails to miss the next opportunity. Amazon has so far not fallen into that trap at all. They are just constantly blowing things up and constantly looking for new ways to solve problems."
YANSS 131 – The psychological forces that make waiting for marshmallows easier also make life itself easier, You Are Not So Smart (2018-07-02). (notes) [31:14] And what Watts and his team found was that it was these other measures, measures all tied to socioeconomic status and the environmental conditions tied to socioeconomic status, that most correlated to later success. In addition, those same measures all correlated with whether a child could delay gratification and wait for the second marshmallow. In other words, it was socioeconomic status that both predicted how a child performed on the marshmallow test and if that child fared better later in life. Watts found there is some predictive power in the marshmallow test, about half as much as we once thought, but it pales in comparison to the predictive power of poverty.
S 4 E 14 Breathe, Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin (2019-05-22). (notes) [24:59] The idea of wrestling with perfectionism, of the divergence between "ship it", bring work to the world, and "the dip", our need to create something remarkable, to be best in the world--the conflict is really clear. But we confuse it sometimes. First of all, I have never once said, "Just ship it". Because just do it, just ship it, that implies, "Go ahead, what the hell, put it out there, doesn't matter". What I'm talking about is, "Merely ship it". There's a blog post on my blog tomorrow morning. It's not on my blog tomorrow morning because it's perfect. It's on my blog tomorrow morning because it's tomorrow morning. If we commit, as Lorne Michaels pointed out with Saturday Night Live, we commit to shipping at a given date and a given time, and know that we must ship our best available work at that moment, our best available work will get better because professionals ship on time, they ship on schedule. What it means to "merely ship it" is to drop the narrative, to stop holding ourselves back, not because it's not good enough, but because it's easier to hold the work back than to interact with the marketplace.
David Dobbs, The Science of Success, The Atlantic (2009-12-01). The coup also showed something more straightforward: that a genetic trait tremendously maladaptive in one situation can prove highly adaptive in another. We needn’t look far to see this in human behavior. To survive and evolve, every society needs some individuals who are more aggressive, restless, stubborn, submissive, social, hyperactive, flexible, solitary, anxious, introspective, vigilant—and even more morose, irritable, or outright violent—than the norm.
Jill Lepore, What the Gospel of Innovation Gets Wrong, The New Yorker (2014-06-16). Disruptive innovation is a theory about why businesses fail. It’s not more than that. It doesn’t explain change. It’s not a law of nature. It’s an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it’s the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. Transfixed by change, it’s blind to continuity. It makes a very poor prophet.
Now reading: Wisdom at Work (2019-05-03). The reason for picking up this book is mostly tactical. I want to convince a certain target audience to pick up the mantle as an elder—an experienced person with something to give rather than something to prove.
Finite (2019-05-01). What if the things I'm doing now—today—aren't as bad as I think? And so what if the things we played were bad? Like when we played the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun" at The Embassy, but the pace got out of control? So what? No humans were harmed in the making of these memories.
Andrew Chaikin, Who Took the Legendary Earthrise Photo From Apollo 8?, Smithsonian Magazine (2018-01-01). When I got to the tape of the Earthrise, I had absolutely no trouble recognizing the voices. I could clearly hear that it was Anders who first saw the Earth coming up, not Borman. It was Borman who said, "Don't take that, it's not scheduled," and I realized he was teasing Anders about his strict adherence to the photo plan (because, as the tapes also revealed, when Borman wanted to take a "tourist photo" of a crater hours earlier, Anders told him not to). I listened as Anders urgently asked Lovell for a roll of color film. Then Lovell was at his own window and the two men argued about who had the better view. Lovell demanded Anders hand over the camera; Anders told Lovell to calm down. Finally, Anders snapped two color pictures. Hearing this historic moment unfold I felt like a stowaway aboard Apollo 8.
Charles Bramesco, Is Apocalypse Now: Final Cut the best version we'll ever see?, The Guardian (2019-04-29). Last night, whatever opposition this film once faced was a distant memory, as Coppola dispensed wisdom from the right side of posterity. "If you want to make art," he said, "you have to be comfortable with risk, and taking a chance that you know best." Soderbergh put it even more succinctly: "I don't know what to say, other than that you gambled and you won." Coppola beamed at the instant round of applause, surrounded by irrefutable evidence that he had made the right decisions, even if they seemed crazy at the time. They say textbooks are written by the victors, and because he just so happened to be a genius with talent too great to be denied, Coppola now gets the privilege of setting his own legacy.
Bridey Heing, Midwesterners Have Seen Themselves As Being in the Center of Everything.'', Longreads (2019-04-23). One thing that really blew me away was that some migrant farm workers who were coming from Mexico to the rural Midwest had ancestors from the rural Midwest who were forced out in the early 20th century. So in that sense, people who are sometimes denounced in political discourse as alien others who should be walled out of the United States are actually struggling for a right of return.