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The art and craft of making board games for the CIA

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Acclaimed designer Volko Ruhnke gives a whole new meaning to the term “serious games”

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LeMadChef
2 days ago
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Denver, CO
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Uber’s CEO is out because of pressure, not some ethical epiphany from the board

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It’s hard to predict exactly how much pressure is needed to affect change, but it’s clear to see when there is enough. And there was finally enough to flush out Uber’s CEO.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Kalanick didn’t get the boot because Uber’s board had some ethical epiphany. They presided over his misdeeds for years. Fat, golden years steered by toxic leadership and fueled by depraved acts.

Now greed has taken a backseat to fear. Fear that the pressure that once seemed so easy to ignore will suddenly drown them all. Flushing out the CEO goes from “impossible to even consider” to “impossible to avoid” in what seems no time at all.

On the board, it probably did look like “life comes at you fast”, but that’s only because they’ve been ignoring a dashboard full of warning lights for years. Blinded by those seventy billion dollar headlights.

When the gravity of the situation finally comes into focus, it’s all FOR GOD’S SAKE, DO SOMETHING! ANYTHING. ALL THE THINGS! RIGHT NOW, NO YESTERDAY! I ACTUALLY WANTED TO DO SOMETHING EARLIER, BUT, BUT, BUT…

No, it isn’t pretty, and it isn’t sincere, but it’s change. That’s what it looks like when the status quo gets a sucker punch from pent-up reality. It wasn’t going to happen any other way.

It’s easy to become jaded in this age of constant, social media outrage. To start thinking that none of it will ever matter. Because it doesn’t, as long as the levies hold. And then the final drop lands, and all of the sudden everything is different.

This is the social equivalent of an overnight success. The one that actually takes ten years to materialize. Uber’s fall didn’t just happen in 2017, it’s been years in the making. Susan Fowler’s expose was just the tipping point.

The important thing to note here is that we don’t actually need Uber’s board to have an ethical epiphany for things to get better. Do you think that United’s CEO suddenly came to realize the prudence of treating his passengers with a modicum of respect because he saw the light? Come on. United, like Uber hopefully will, changed its policies because they felt no choice.

This is how we improve matters. Once the survival of a company, or at least its reputation, hangs in the balance, all sorts of impossible things suddenly become possible.

Pressure works. Every drip counts. Be a drop.


Uber’s CEO is out because of pressure, not some ethical epiphany from the board was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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LeMadChef
2 days ago
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Things We Saw Today: Rick and Morty Get Their Own Version of Clue

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Everyone who’s anyone seems to get remade in the Clue image these days, and now it’s Rick and Morty’s turn.

Nerd Approved has the first look at the game, subtitled Back in Blackout, which will be out in August for your end-of-summer parties. You can pre-order it here. The board itself looks pretty rad:

And here’s a summary of the “plot”:

The plans to Rick’s portal gun have been stolen! It’s up to Rick, Morty, Summer, Jerry, Beth and Mr. Poopybutthole to get them back. They must find out WHO stole the plans, WHERE they are hiding, and WHAT item they used to succeed in the heist. It’s an inter-dimensional mystery!

Bonus points if you play with a flask perpetually in hand. (via Nerd Approved)

  • Stephen Colbert is in Russia on a “secret assignment” and I cannot WAIT to see what kind of comedic gold emerges as a result. (via L.A. Times)
  • Bill Cosby, who has been accused by more than 60 women of sexual assault, is now planning to hold town hall meetings on how “young athletes” and “married men” can avoid being accused of sexual assault. This is kind of like Lex Luthor holding town halls on how to be a superhero, except nevermind because I like Lex Luthor and Bill Cosby is a monster. (via Twitter)
  • Cult cartoon Rocko’s Modern Life is getting a TV movie revival, because it was awesome, and also because no media property that dies is truly dead anymore. (via Syfy)
  • This summer’s new crop of TV passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. (via The Guardian)
  • Preacher season 2 will hew even more closely to the comics’ storylines. BRING ON THE SAINT OF KILLERS. (via IGN)

So what did you see today, my besties?


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LeMadChef
2 days ago
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The Boss You Don’t Want to Be

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Here’s the one thing that separates good managers from the bad.

Most of us have had two different types of bosses during our careers: The Boss Everyone Wish They Had and The Boss You Don’t Want to Be.

Recently, I was reminded of the latter — The Boss You Don’t Want to Be — when talking to two friends the other week.

Both of my friends are employees. One works at a large, growing healthcare tech company, and the other at a notable, high-profile nonprofit.

Both have managers who they cannot stand. Both of their managers have absolutely no idea.

One friend told me: “Three out of six people on the team have already quit, and two others are on the verge of quitting… And he has no idea.”

The other friend told me: “We keep losing talented people all the time because of him… And he has no idea.”

Both of their managers are good, well-intentioned people. In fact, they’re popular with their respective CEO and Executive Director. They were placed in their management positions because they were strong individual contributors and high performers.

But as managers? They are literally driving their own employees away. They’ve become The Boss You Don’t Want to Be.

What’s going on?

In listening to my friends, I realized their managers have one thing in common:

These Bosses You Don’t Want to Be habitually put their own self-interest ahead of their team’s best interest.

They cover their ass to look good to upper management, even if it comes at the expense of supporting their team.

They don’t want to know the truth of how their employees feel because they’re scared of what they might hear, and how it would personally feel to hear those things.

They feel entitled to more privileges, leeway, and benefits because they feel they’ve worked harder than anyone else on their team.

Sound familiar? Perhaps you yourself have worked with The Boss You Don’t Want to Be, who exhibited some of these beliefs. But don’t be so quick to judge: These people are not evil nor maniacal.

Truth be told, the mindset of The Boss You Don’t Want to Be is easy to succumb to yourself if you’re not paying close attention.

Consider these situations:

Someone on your team isn’t pulling their weight and you have to pick up the slack… You’re frustrated.

Someone on your team didn’t execute up to right quality standards… You feel like you can’t trust anyone to get the job done well.

Someone on your team isn’t producing the right outcomes… You’re worried how that’s going to make you look.

Someone on your team is pressing your buttons (and honestly being a pain-in-the-ass)… You feel low on patience when talking to them.

Whether you become The Boss You Don’t Want to Be or The Boss Everyone Wish They Had comes down to how you react to these situations.

You have two options:

You can decide the situation is hopeless — you’ve done all you can. Everyone has pretty much proven they’re incompetent. You choose to focus on yourself and move your own career forward. You put your own self-interest before the team’s.

Or, faced with the same situation — you can decide to look inward. You see your team’s shortcomings as a reflection of your own leadership shortcomings. You ask yourself, “What can I be doing to create a better environment for our team to be successful?”

Surely, taking responsibility for your team’s hardships and treating them as your own means more time, effort, and energy on your part. But that’s what the best leaders do: They do the hard thing because it’s the right thing. They put their team’s best interest before their own, instead of the other way around.

This is what separates The Boss You Don’t Want to Be from The Boss Everyone Wish They Had.

Which are you?

Lastly, if you found this post useful, please feel free to share + give it ❤️ so others can find it too! Thanks 😊 (and please say hi at @cjlew23).


The Boss You Don’t Want to Be was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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LeMadChef
3 days ago
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★ Medium and the Scourge of Persistent Sharing Dickbars

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Medium seems to continue to grow in popularity as a publishing platform, and as it does, I’m growing more and more frustrated by their on-screen “engagement” turds. Every Medium site displays an on-screen “sharing” bar that covers the actual content I want to read. This is particularly annoying on the phone, where screen real estate is most precious. Now on iOS they’ve added an “Open in App” button that literally makes the last 1-2 lines of content on screen unreadable. To me these things are as distracting as having someone wave their hand in front of my face while I try to read.

Here’s an annotated screenshot (and threaded rant) I posted to Twitter while trying to read Steven Sinofksy’s WWDC 2017 trip report on my iPad Pro review unit last week.

Safari already has a built-in Sharing button. It has all the options for sharing I need. And as I scroll the page, it disappears so that I can see as much text on screen as possible. Safari is designed to be reader-friendly, as it should be. But it’s trivial to get that Sharing button back when I want it – just tap the bottom of the screen and there it is. Easy.

This is now a very common design pattern for mobile web layouts. Medium is far from alone. It’s getting hard to find a news site that doesn’t put a persistent sharing dickbar down there.

More examples:

TechCrunch’s waste of space deserves special mention, for having a persistent navbar at the top and a persistent ad, in addition to their sharing dickbar.

I’m sure “engagement” does register higher with these sharing dickbars, but I suspect a big part of that is because of accidental taps. And even so, what is more important, readability or “engagement”? Medium wants to be about readability but that’s hard to square with this dickbar, and especially hard to square with the “Open in App” button floating above it.

iOS also has a standard way to prompt users to install the app version of a website — Smart App Banners. And it’s user-dismissible.

For any piece over a page long, I read Medium pieces with Safari’s Reader Mode. Medium is supposed to be a reader-optimized layout by default. It should be one of the sites where you’re never even tempted to switch to Reader Mode.

I’m frustrated by this design pattern everywhere I see it. But I’m especially disappointed by Medium’s adoption of it. I don’t expect better from most websites. I do expect better from Medium.

A website should not fight the browser. Let the browser provide the chrome, and simply provide the content. Web developers know this is right — these dickbars are being rammed down their throats by SEO experts. The SEO folks are the same dopes who came up with the genius strategy of requiring 5-10 megabytes of privacy-intrusive CPU-intensive JavaScript on every page load that slows down websites. Now they come to their teams and say, “Our pages are too slow — we gotta move to AMP so our pages load fast.”

I don’t expect to break through to the SEO shitheads running the asylums at most of these publications, but Medium is supposed to be good. When people click a URL and see that it’s a Medium site, their reaction should be “Oh, good, a Medium site — this will be nice to read.” Right now it’s gotten to the point where when people realize an article is on Medium, they think, “Oh, crap, it’s on Medium.”

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jhamill
6 days ago
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The "Open in App" button is pretty bad but, the social bar at the bottom isn't.
California
fxer
6 days ago
I'd say the social bar is also pretty bad, even the url bar has the decency to get out of the way so you can read
jhamill
5 days ago
The bottom social bar isn't that bad because it is stylized like the rest of the page. It obscures maybe 2 lines of text and let's be honest, if you're reading the last 2 lines of a story on your phone you're going to have to scroll to read more anyway so it's not taking up "valuable real estate", isn't taking up the "time to scroll now you're almost out of screen" real estate.
dvenema
5 days ago
The bottom bar wouldn't be so bad if it weren't literally the same sharing buttons that they already display to the left of the content as well.
jhamill
5 days ago
I see no sharing buttons to the left of the content in Chrome on my phone.
dvenema
5 days ago
It must depend on screen size. They're clearly visible in Gruber's screenshot.
LeMadChef
3 days ago
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Denver, CO
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digdoug
6 days ago
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“Oh, crap, it’s on Medium.”
I actually had this thought for the first time the other day. The constant push to apps and making a browser a windowing OS is making me feel extra GetOffMyGrassy these days.
Louisville, KY

Juror Says Bill Cosby Had “Already Paid a Price & Suffered” as If That’s the Fair Punishment for Rape

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Bill Cosby’s trial ended in a hung jury last week, with jurors unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Prosecutors have said the case will be retried, but as for these jurors, their job is done, and reporters are now free to ask questions about their experiences and deliberations. I imagine they must be getting hounded by the press, and it’s no surprise that some are choosing to hole up in their homes.

Others, though, are offering some insight into what happened in the jury room, and it’s as upsetting as you’d probably expect. The reports coming out are saying that the jury was stuck at a vote of 10 guilty to 2 not guilty, although at least one juror is saying that count was only reached briefly before some changed their minds, and that for the majority of the deliberations, the votes were stuck at 7-5.

The most infuriating thing to come out so far is one juror’s statement that “Whatever the man did he’s already paid a price and suffered.”

That’s exactly what so many of us feared. That’s the risk with such a public trial of a long-famous and widely beloved man. The hope is to get an unbiased jury, but how could that have been anything but a pipe dream in this case? That same juror went on to say, “I think they created this whole thing, a case that was settled in ’05 and we had to bring it up again in ’17.”

That doesn’t sound to me like this juror had “reasonable doubt.” To me, that sounds like he believes Bill Cosby is guilty, but didn’t want to declare him guilty, because then Cosby would be punished, and this juror thinks he’s been through enough. It also sounds like he doesn’t understand the difference between a civil case (in 2005) and a criminal case (now).

It’s not just ultra-famous father figures who have their feelings considered with more care than their alleged sexual assault victims. This think of his suffering mentality is what saw Stanford rapist Brock Turner released from prison after months. We see it all the time in rape cases, and we don’t see countless rapes reported because, among other reasons, women know this is a risk.

A jury’s job in cases like these is not to determine if the accused has paid his due, and being accused of being a rapist is not an appropriate punishment for rape.

By the way, Cosby’s publicist just announced his upcoming plans: he’ll be going on tour, educating people about the dangers of being accused of sexual assault. Nope, not educating about sexual assault. No prevention or awareness issues here. Rather, he’ll be talking to famous men–”athletes” and “married men”–about what to do if they’re accused of assault. Especially since, as the publicist notes, “the statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault are being extended,” you have to know the laws. Then you, too, can hang a jury, or maybe even be acquitted of rape. What a public service. Good thing he “paid a price and suffered,” right?

(via Aaron Martin, Twitter, featured image: Shutterstock)

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