The Engineer’s Lament: Two ways of thinking about automotive safety

Malcolm Gladwell’s look into how automotive safety recalls work, and don’t. But hidden inside is a look at how we examine and evaluate risk and where we place priorities. And the sometimes insurmountable gulf between what engineers see and what normal, emotional people see. And the consequences in safety for how we prioritize and deal with public safety issues. A good read.

After Jobs Dry Up, What Then?

An excellent distillation of one of the most important issues of the next decade.

Update (2015-03-29): This post sparked a few conversations with friends that have caused me to revise my opinion. I still believe that rising economic inequality, lack of opportunities, decreased social mobility, and poor measures of success focused on economic growth are all major problems for our society. I’m not convinced that technological progress is the major cause of this shift or that this technological age is fundamentally different from previous periods of “creative destruction.” That said, I do still worry about the types of new jobs that are currently being created, many of which in the “gig economy” offer very little economic security and no benefits.

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer

This week’s New York Times Magazine cover story is an in-depth and pretty devastating critique of three decades of breast cancer awareness campaigns, especially focused on the Susan Komen foundation. The one sentence summary: Komen’s campaigns aren’t helping to cure or prevent cancer, they aren’t dispensing good medical advice, but they are causing women to live in unnecessary fear.

RIP, Aaron Swartz

Cory Doctorow’s moving tribute to Swartz, 26, who was recently found to have committed suicide. I never knew Aaron, but I’d occasionally see him around Harvard. I recognized him because I followed his blog, digital activism, and standards-making work since I was in high school. He was a brilliant and driven thinker and doer in the digital law and public policy space. He also helped create (or at least rewrite) the early Reddit, crafted the Creative Commons license framework, and helped build the RSS specification. That’s a lot to accomplish in a lifetime, and he did it all in his teenage years and early 20s. He is a few years younger than me, and at times I found him inspiring, at other times inscrutable, but always I kept an eye out for his latest work. Sometimes I wondered — if I had done things differently, been more passionate, just a bit smarter — if I could have been like Aaron. Now, learning about his demons, I’m just sad for him, and for us, who no longer have him around.

The Campaign For Real Monopoly

I am so 100% in favor of this. I really like Monopoly, but no one else does. I like playing it by the rules, but everyone is always surprised and confused by property auctions, and people insist on stupid rules like money for free parking. When played properly, using the actual rules, the game is much more interesting. I didn’t know about the two house rules often used at tournaments, but now that I do I am going to insist on them.