I enjoyed Daniel Soar’s review of the Snowden affair from a half-year’s distance. One imagines the upcoming wave of books may surface more such piece’s, but this is the one I read. I’d not known this detail:
Greenwald said that Snowden had planned to put up a manifesto on the web, calling for an end to the surveillance state, but, Greenwald thought, he came across as a bit ranty and Unabomberish. So he persuaded him not to publish. Snowden’s best strategy was to speak in his own voice to camera: he was his own biggest asset. Here was a man – normal-looking, nice-looking, young – who had given up his $200,000 salary as an NSA contractor and his home in Hawaii (‘paradise’, Snowden called it) in order to let the world know what his government had been doing.
The Settlers of Catan is one of the few board games that most people — people who almost never play board games, and the hardest core of board game geeks — seem to like equally. Adrienne Rachel has a short profile of its rise and creator:
The company originally sourced all of the materials for the game from Europe, but, when demand began to take off, the manufacturers didn’t have enough wood to keep up. Mayfair expanded to American companies for more resources. Today, every box of Catan that Mayfair produces is an international affair: the dice are tooled in Denmark; the more intricate wooden pieces are done in Germany; other wood parts are made in Ohio; the cards are from Dallas; the boxes, Illinois; the cardboard, Indiana; the plastic components, Wisconsin; finally, everything gets put together on an assembly line in Illinois.
An AskMetafilter question I’ve been sitting on for months:
Sometimes it can be useful to divide people into categories* for the purpose of understanding the differences in how people behave. … So, what are some useful paradigms for understanding different people?
I agree with the spirit of the question, and found many new-to-me systems in the answers.
I learned a lot I didn’t expect from this short essay about the issue of Malta trying to sell citizenship to itself, and thus the EU citizenship to anyone who can pay:
New legislation, Muscat and his advisers said, would allow carefully screened foreigners to obtain fast-tracked, no-strings-attached Maltese citizenship in exchange for an investment of 650,000 euros. The parliament in Valletta was due to approve the plan once a few details had been ironed out. In the meantime, interested parties should speak to Henley & Partners, the firm that had organised the conference and would be administering the passport programme.
If I’m honest, this isn’t that interesting to me on its face — all writing of any value is revised. But it’s an excuse to expose people to one of favorite things in the world, Carl Sagan’s few pages about the Earth when viewed from a photograph taken by Voyager 1:
Consider again that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on the mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
And the video version the post includes, which I’d never seen before, is pretty great:
Oliver Emberton talks about life as it if is literally a video game. I don’t necessarily love all parts of this post, but it’s definitely cool enough — especially the art — to take a look at. This I liked:
Attraction is a complex mini-game in itself, but mostly a byproduct of how you’re already playing. If you have excellent state and high skills, you’re far more attractive already. A tired, irritable, unskilled player is not appealing, and probably shouldn’t be looking for a relationship.
A Muslim woman unintentionally learned that dressing for the cold changes most everything about who she’s perceived as she moves around the world:
But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say “Assalamu Alaikum,” ask me where I’m from or if I’m single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.
NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) can listen to the spacecraft [the ISEE-3/ICE], a test in 2008 proved that it was possible to pick up the transmitter carrier signal, but can we speak to the spacecraft? Can we tell the spacecraft to turn back on its thrusters and science instruments after decades of silence and perform the intricate ballet needed to send it back to where it can again monitor the Sun? The answer to that question appears to be no.
I enjoyed this column from David Brooks. His points about the abilities that humans have that machines don’t and likely won’t:
Second, the era seems to reward people with extended time horizons and strategic discipline. When Garry Kasparov was teaming with a computer to play freestyle chess (in which a human and machine join up to play against another human and machine), he reported that his machine partner possessed greater “tactical acuity,” but he possessed greater “strategic guidance.”
I really liked Ross Douthat’s column yesterday about the way work and politics fits together:
But the universal 15-hour workweek is not exactly with us yet. Instead, a different trend seems to be emerging, in which well-educated professionals — inspired by rising pay and status-obsessed competition — often work longer hours than they did a few decades ago, while poorer Americans, especially poorer men, are increasingly disconnected from the labor force entirely. (That this trend coincides with widening inequality is not coincidental.)
An interesting idea that leads to some really compelling photographs:
“I have something to tell you.”
It is with this loaded phrase that self-taught photographer Adrain Chesser sets his scene, creating a series of intimate, surprising portraits as a means of telling friends and family that he has been diagnosed with AIDS.