Culture Change and Conflict at Twitter

Two years ago, the company brought in a blunt executive to make things move faster and to promote diversity. Then the problems began.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/16/technology/twitter-culture-change-conflict.html
Mr. Davis, the company’s new vice president of design, asked employees to go around the room, complimenting and critiquing one another. Tough criticism would help Twitter improve, he said. The barbs soon flew. Several attendees cried during the two-hour meeting, said three people who were there.

Does the Great Retreat from Afghanistan Mark the End of the American Era?

It’s a dishonorable end that weakens U.S. standing in the world, perhaps irrevocably.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/does-the-great-retreat-from-afghanistan-mark-the-end-of-the-american-era
On Monday, August 9th, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul posed a question to its four hundred thousand followers: “This #PeaceMonday, we want to hear from you. What do you wish to tell the negotiating parties in Doha about your hopes for a political settlement? #PeaceForAfghanistan.” The message reflected the delusion of American policy

Why Is It So Hard to Be Rational?

The real challenge isn’t being right but knowing how wrong you might be.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/08/23/why-is-it-so-hard-to-be-rational
Often, I asked myself, How would Greg think? I adopted his habit of tracking what I knew and how well I knew it, so that I could separate my well-founded opinions from my provisional views. Bad investors, Greg told me, often had flat, loosely drawn maps of their own knowledge, but good ones were careful cartographers, distinguishing between settled, surveyed, and unexplored territories. Through all this, our lives unfolded. Around the time I left my grad program to try out journalism, Greg swooned over his girlfriend’s rational mind, married her, and became a director at a hedge fund. His net worth is now several thousand times my own.

“All Roads Lead to Mar-a-Lago”: Inside the Fury and Fantasy of Donald Trump’s Florida

Roger Stone, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Ben Shapiro—they’ve all made their way to the Sunshine State, fueling and profiting from a tabloid culture that turns politics into spectacle, arguably Florida’s greatest export.

Link: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/08/the-fury-and-fantasy-of-donald-trumps-florida
At its peak in the 1980s, the Enquirer reached 4.7 million readers. When Pope died in 1988, Haley went to his house in Manalapan, Florida, and viewed the spartan bedroom: a single bed, a big-screen TV, and shelves groaning with VHS tapes of Hogan’s Heroes and Gilligan’s Island. “This is where his head was at, which is pretty much where our readers’ heads were at,” he says.

The Return of the Taliban

Their comeback has taken twenty years, but it is a classic example of a successful guerrilla war of attrition.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-return-of-the-taliban
In April, President Joe Biden announced his intention to carry on with the withdrawal, and pull out forces by September 11th. However much he says that he does “not regret” his decision, his Presidency will be held responsible for whatever happens in Afghanistan now, and the key words that will forever be associated with the long American sojourn there will include hubris, ignorance, inevitability, betrayal, and failure.

The Big Money Behind the Big Lie

Donald Trump’s attacks on democracy are being promoted by rich and powerful conservative groups that are determined to win at all costs.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/08/09/the-big-money-behind-the-big-lie
Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and one of the country’s foremost election-law experts, told me, “I’m scared shitless.” Referring to the array of new laws passed by Republican state legislatures since the 2020 election, he said, “It’s not just about voter suppression. What I’m really worried about is election subversion. Election officials are being put in place who will mess with the count.”

The Lost Canyon Under Lake Powell

Drought is shrinking one of the country’s largest reservoirs, revealing a hidden Eden.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/08/16/the-lost-canyon-under-lake-powell
In the six decades since the dam was built, the living memory of Glen Canyon has mostly been lost. Relatively few people visited the canyon when it could still be run by raft, and all but a handful of them are now dead. In the meantime, the place has acquired an almost mythical status. It was a kind of Eden, more spectacular than the Grand Canyon and, at the same time, more peaceful. It was a fairy-tale maze of side canyons, and side canyons with their own side canyons, each one offering a different marvel. Edward Abbey, who was one of several writers and artists to float through Glen Canyon shortly before its inundation, called the closing of the dam’s gates a “crime.” To grasp the nature of this crime, he wrote, “imagine the Taj Mahal or Chartres Cathedral buried in mud until only the spires remain visible.”

Is Taiwan Next?

In Taipei, young people like Nancy Tao Chen Ying watched as the Hong Kong protests were brutally extinguished. Now they wonder what’s in their future.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/04/magazine/taiwan-china.html
In recent years, Chinese warplanes buzzing the Taiwan Strait’s midline increased substantially, and the country’s warships regularly encircled the island. In March, America’s top military officer in the Indo-Pacific region told a Senate hearing that he believed China could invade Taiwan in the next six years.

The Taliban fly their flag in central Kunduz as exhausted Afghan troops regroup.

The rapid fall of important Afghan cities comes as insurgent fighters have pressed their offensive all around the country, dividing Afghan forces as U.S. troops depart.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/08/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-kunduz.html
The Taliban seized two Afghan provincial capitals on Sunday, including the strategically crucial northern city of Kunduz, officials said, escalating a sweeping insurgent offensive that has claimed four regional capitals in just three days

The ballad of the Chowchilla bus kidnapping

In 1976, a school bus carrying 26 children and their driver disappeared from a small California town. Forty-five years later, we revisit the story.

Link: https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/22570738/chowchilla-school-bus-kidnapping
“I’ve been a fortunate guy,” he said from his home near Yosemite. “I was in the Merchant Marines with German submarines trying to get me. I was in the Navy for almost 10 years with the Japs and Soviets trying to get me. I’ve been shot at and they missed. I’ve been shot at and they hit. I’ve been cut with knives. A guy hit me across the back of the head with a two-by-four, and I had to have a neck operation.

A Controversial Tool Calls Out Thousands of Hackable Websites

PunkSpider is back, and crawling hundreds of millions of sites for vulnerabilities.

Link: https://www.wired.com/story/punkspider-web-site-vulnerabilities/
At the Defcon hacker conference next week, Alejandro Caceres and Jason Hopper plan to release—or, rather, to upgrade and re-release after a years-long hiatus—a tool called PunkSpider. Essentially a search engine that constantly crawls the entire web, PunkSpider automatically identifies hackable vulnerabilities in websites, and then allows anyone to search those results to find sites susceptible to everything from defacement to data leaks.