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Links: June 2018

The Cult of the Complex

Complexity is good for convincing people they could not possibly do your job. Simplicity is good for everything else.

Choco Mountain: The History of Mario Kart 64’s Most Infamous Track

The video game speed run explainer genre is not something I would have anticipated drawing me in, yet here we are.

The Struggle Over Gamers Who Use Mods To Create Racist Alternate Histories

Does alternative history need to be challenged beyond the merits of its own grotesque imagination?

How to Ask for Advice Over Email

The whole point is to make the response feel less like work and more like procrastination. If you ask me out to coffee in your first email, I will fake either an out-of-office reply or my death. If you email me one open question and add “Feel free to ignore,” then I will immediately ignore my actual job and write you a book over Gmail.

Send and move on. Be pleasantly surprised if you hear anything back.

The High Price of Being Kate Spade

The subversive ingenuity of the Kate Spade brand, with its cheerfulness and indulgent use of color, was that it rejected both the old hierarchies and entitlements and the newer tensions of the meritocracy in favor of an ethos that implied you were already someone — here and now just as you were.

The NFL Is Too Dumb To Realize That Donald Trump Is Never Going To Stop With This Shit

Because NFL owners are quite stupid even by the water-brained standards of the ultra-rich, they devised a strange sort of tiered non-compromise compromise on the protests in the hopes that Trump would stop ranting about their league and the ungrateful, un-American, subhuman thugs who are both its labor and its product. They did this without the consent or even the input of the players, which displeased the players. And Trump, because he is Trump, did not accept the deal. He’s a man who only knows how to do a couple of things, but one of those things is to find a bruise and then push and push on it. He does that very well.

he definitely has an understanding of loyalty, and that is roughly as something that an employee owes an employer—as a thing that runs up and only up, and is non-negotiable, and is in the end about always and without complaint doing what you’re told.

There is no deal to make with people like this, because there is no limit to what they want.

The New York City Subway Is Beyond Repair

This proposal to replace the NYC subway with autonomous vehicles is excessively optimistic but still compelling.

Starting with a clean slate and imagining an autonomous subway lets us escape the 19th century, when cities needed tons of iron just to move a few people at a steady speed. The 21st century deserves new ideas and approaches that take advantage of everything we can do with computers and artificial intelligence and robotics. We don’t need to stick with our old tech when we can dream of something newer and smarter.

Trump Goes to War Against the Democracies

He is testing to the breaking point relationships that there was never any reason to test in the first place.

Looking for Life on a Flat Earth

Did the internet weaken critical thinking, or merely enable more efficient exploitation of an existing weakness?

The footing on this flat Earth is unstable. At the conference, several speakers made reference to “shills” within the community, people purporting to espouse the theory but who in fact belong to some deep-state counterintelligence program aimed at making the movement seem laughable. In 2016, Dubay, of the “200 Proofs” video, called out Sargent, Campanella, and other figures as “suspected controlled opposition shills,” and last year in a radio interview he called the November conference a “shill-fest.” Even the flat-Earth bureaucracy is suspect. At the end of the conference’s second day, a panelist mentioned a plan to set up a nonprofit to carry on the work. This brought a rebuke from a woman in the audience. “You had me up until I heard the gentleman say, ‘The reason we had to scramble to get the 501(c)(3),’ ” she said. “In my research, I found out that’s a Luciferian contract.”

The Language of the Trump Administration Is the Language of Domestic Violence

“Look what you made me do.”

“We don’t want to do this at all,” Jeff Sessions told Hugh Hewitt. In the minds of Trump and his ilk, the misdeeds committed by the parents at the border—fleeing documented danger and violence in their native countries; legally seeking asylum; keeping their children close—transform the American government into an instrument of pain, one that these families are choosing to wield against themselves.

A Review of the ‘Hereditary’ Wikipedia Page, by Someone Who Is Too Afraid to See ‘Hereditary’

Whoever has chosen to chronicle the various atrocities of the Saw franchise is likely working harder than most of the people making the Saw movies.

Drake: I’m Upset

Not gonna pretend I’m not onboard with the Degrassi TNG reunion in the new Drake video. He’ll always be Jimmy Brooks to me!

Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border

The Government Has No Plan for Reuniting the Immigrant Families It Is Tearing Apart

The federal departments involved in dealing with separated families have institutional agendas that diverge. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—the agency at the D.H.S. that handles immigrant parents—is designed to deport people as rapidly as it can, while O.R.R.—the office within the Department of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.) that assumes custody of the kids—is designed to release children to sponsor or foster families in the U.S. Lately, O.R.R. has been moving more slowly than usual, which has resulted in parents getting deported before their children’s cases are resolved. There’s next to no coördination between D.H.S. and H.H.S.

Left–right political spectrum

I always wondered why the political spectrum is termed left–right. It began with the seating layout of the 18th century French legislature.

TANK, a 2-minute visual homage to 80s vector arcade games (and Tron)

By embracing the cumbersome, painfully slow nature of my workflow, I was in a way trying to commune with my computer graphics forefathers.

Riding North

I’ve long admired Zeldman’s knack for finding humor and humanity in seemingly mundane experiences.

Cab from Boston South Station to waterfront hotel: $9. The driver let me hoist my impossibly heavy bag into the trunk myself, and tug it back out again on arrival at the hotel. “Okay,” he said, scowling, as I gently lowered the hood of his trunk. I don’t think he approved of my beard. Or maybe he blamed me for the African Diaspora. My people didn’t do it. We were hiding in barrels.

Every Detail of Grand Central Terminal Explained

So many fascinating details in this delightful architectural tour of Grand Central Terminal.

How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country

The paucity of federal funding for transit projects means that local ballots are critical in shaping how Americans travel, with decades-long repercussions for the economy and the environment. Highway funding has historically been built into state and federal budgets, but transit funding usually requires a vote to raise taxes, creating what experts call a systemic bias toward cars over trains and buses. The United States transportation sector emits more earth-warming carbon dioxide than any other part of the nation’s economy.

We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners

The right’s revulsion against a black president targeted by birther conspiracy theories is not the same as the left’s revulsion against a racist president who spread birther conspiracy theories.

Liberals are using their cultural power against the right because it’s the only power they have left, and people have a desperate need to say, and to hear others say, that what is happening in this country is intolerable.

Trump Leaves His Mark on a Presidential Keepsake

A coin commemorating a 3 Doors Down performance at a presidential inauguration is just stupid enough that I’d consider spending a limited amount of actual money on it.

How Social-Media Trolls Turned U.C. Berkeley Into a Free-Speech Circus

I asked john powell what he thought about the rhetorical tactic of conflating speech with bodily harm. “Consider the classic liberal justification for free speech,” he said. “ ‘Your right to throw punches ends at the tip of my nose.’ This is taken to mean that speech can never cause any kind of injury. But we have learned a lot about the brain that John Stuart Mill didn’t know. So these students are asking, ‘Given what we now know about stereotype threat and trauma and P.T.S.D., where is the tip of our nose, exactly?’ ”

How Baby Boomers Broke America

They upended corporate America and Wall Street with inventions in law and finance that created an economy built on deals that moved assets around instead of building new ones. They created exotic, and risky, financial instruments, including derivatives and credit default swaps, that produced sugar highs of immediate profits but separated those taking the risk from those who would bear the consequences. They organized hedge funds that turned owning stock into a minute-by-minute bet rather than a long-term investment. They invented proxy fights, leveraged buyouts and stock buybacks that gave lawyers and bankers a bonanza of new fees and maximized short-term profits for increasingly unsentimental shareholders, but deadened incentives for the long-term growth of the rest of the economy.

It may be understandable for those on the losing side of this triumph of the achievers to condemn the winners as gluttons. That explanation, however, is too simple. Many of the protected class are people who have lived the kind of lives that all Americans celebrate. They worked hard. They innovated. They tried things that others wouldn’t attempt. They believed, often correctly, that they were writing new chapters in the long story of American progress.

When they created ways to package mortgages into securities that could be resold to investors, for example, it was initially celebrated as a way to get more money into the mortgage pool, thereby making more mortgages available to the middle class. But by 2007 it had become far too much of a good thing. As the financial engineers continued to push the envelope with ever-riskier versions of the original invention, they crashed the economy.

Thus, the breakdown came when their intelligence, daring, creativity and resources enabled them to push aside any effort to rein them in. They did what comes naturally – they kept winning. And they did it with the protection of an alluring, defensible narrative that shielded them from pushback, at least initially. They won not with the brazen corruption of the robber barons of old, but by drawing on the core values that have always defined American greatness.

“American meritocracy has thus become precisely what it was invented to combat,” Markovits concluded, “a mechanism for the dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Meritocracy now constitutes a modern-day aristocracy.”

Stier and the others believe that the country will overrun the lobbyists and cross over the moats when enough Americans see that we need leaders who are prepared and intelligent, who can channel our frustration rather than exploit it, and who can unite the middle class and the poor rather than divide them. They are certain that when the country’s breakdown touches enough people directly and causes enough damage, the officeholders who depend on those people for their jobs will be forced to act.

How Anthony Bourdain Came to Be Anthony Bourdain

He taught me early that the value of a dish is the pleasure it brings you; where you are sitting when you eat it—and who you are eating it with—are what really matter. Perhaps the most important life lesson he passed on was: Don’t be a snob. It’s something I will always at least aspire to—something that has allowed me to travel this world and eat all it has to offer without fear or prejudice. To experience joy, my father taught me, one has to leave oneself open to it.

Image Inconsistencies: How and When Browsers Download Images

  • Chrome, Opera, and Edge will download background-images that aren’t required for first render. This means that hidden DOM nodes that have a background-image applied to them will still have that background-image downloaded. Beware unexpected downloads.
  • Firefox will block <img /> downloads on CSSOM construction, meaning later-than-expected downloads. Beware delays.
  • Further, Firefox will still download the <img /> even if it wasn’t needed. Beware unexpected downloads.

Stop Wasting Money and Finally Start a Budget

If you’ve never created a budget or if you need a refresher, the simplest way to get going is to write down every single expense in a given month, then break them down into two categories: fixed expenses (the things you must pay, like rent, bills and loan payments) and discretionary expenses (things you control, like food, entertainment, car-related expenses and clothes).

You have many possible routes to take from there, but a good rule of thumb often suggested is to get your overall spending to fit into the 50-30-20 method: 50 percent of your post-tax income should go to those fixed expenses; 20 percent should go to long-term savings like a 401(k) or a Roth I.R.A.; and the rest should go to your discretionary spending. The exact proportions will vary person to person, but that general budget makeup is a good mix to aim for. Here’s a simple template to get you started if you want to create your own budget. If you want more detailed tracking, try this one.