Luck shapes every human life. That has radical moral implications. | Vox


These recent controversies reminded me of the fuss around a book that came out a few years ago: Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, by economist Robert Frank. (Vox’s Sean Illing interviewed Frank last year.)

It argued that luck plays a large role in every human success and failure, which ought to be a rather banal and uncontroversial point, but the reaction of many commentators was gobsmacked outrage.

On Fox Business, Stuart Varney sputtered at Frank: “Do you know how insulting that was, when I read that?”

It’s not difficult to see why many people take offense when reminded of their luck, especially those who have received the most. Allowing for luck can dent our self-conception.

It can diminish our sense of control. It opens up all kinds of uncomfortable questions about obligations to other, less fortunate people.

Source: Luck shapes every human life. That has radical moral implications. – Vox

Library of Congress Needs Volunteers to Digitize Its Records | Nextgov


The Library on Congress renewed a call for contractors to help digitize millions of manuscripts, photos and other materials—for free.

The library on Thursday started accepting bids for “no-cost contracts” to copy and scan numerous records to be posted online. The offer is open to both commercial and non-commercial groups involved in digital publishing.

While digitization efforts are already underway, the additional help is needed “to respond to increasing expectations for collections materials and related items to be made available on the Library’s website,” officials wrote in the solicitation.

The library solicited similar volunteer digitization services in 2013.

Source: Library of Congress Needs Volunteers to Digitize Its Records – Nextgov

A new Horizon for Europe’s Media, Cultural and Creative industries | EURACTIV.com


Acknowledging the strategic importance of the media industries, the EU has developed a strong tradition of multifaceted investments in media research and innovation. However, in today’s European programs, these investments are scattered and dispersed, and the technological aspects of innovation are predominant in comparison to those related to content creation.  

This unbalance is reflected in the mismatch between the two main investment programs: Horizon 2020, addressing mainly technological innovation, and Creative Europe, addressing mainly content and innovation in content.

With the new Multi-annual Financial Framework to arrive in 2021, it is now time to propose an integrated vision of European policies, investments and actions for a truly coherent, sustainable, innovative and successful European media ecosystem.

Source: A new Horizon for Europe’s Media, Cultural and Creative industries – EURACTIV.com

How corporations are approaching sustainability and the Global Goals


Corporations are increasingly building sustainability into their business strategies, and linking outcomes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as seen in the 7,500 companies issuing annual sustainability or corporate responsibility reports in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative.

Given this evolution in corporate thinking and action, the pertinent questions are “why” and “how.”

To investigate, we studied 40 companies with a strong record on sustainability.

Source: How corporations are approaching sustainability and the Global Goals

Telling the History of the U.S. Through Its Territories | Smithsonian


In his upcoming book How to Hide an Empire, Daniel Immerwahr sets out to tell the history of the Greater United States, what lies beyond the mainland.

He traces the legacy of empire to the U.S.’s founding, explores why the nation avoids this particular part of its past and fills the book with fascinating stories from past and present territories.

Source: Telling the History of the U.S. Through Its Territories | History | Smithsonian

To Reduce IT Supply Chain Risk, Watch for Insider Threats and External Attackers | Nextgov


A recent Bloomberg Businessweek report claims that China’s military infiltrated the supply chain used to build hardware that Apple and Amazon Web Services both use.

Both tech giants deny the story’s allegations. Supermicro, the component maker that was allegedly hacked, also says it’s not true.

Despite this, Bloomberg stands behind it. Regardless of whether “the big hack” happened, it raises the specter of whether hacks against the IT supply chain are taking place and if risk is being mitigated.

The idea that a supply chain attack could compromise hardware used to power critical systems has troubled the public and private sectors alike for several years.

Most experts agree that executing a successful attack that could infiltrate the IT supply chain would be difficult. They also agree that it’s possible.

In fact, The Guardian and ArsTechnica have both published stories alleging that government and military entities infiltrated IT supply chains in the past.

Source: To Reduce IT Supply Chain Risk, Watch for Insider Threats and External Attackers – Nextgov

Stanford professor: “The workplace is killing people and nobody cares”


Dying for a Paycheck, published by HarperBusiness, maps a range of ills in the modern workplace–from the disappearance of good health insurance to the psychological effects of long hours and work-family conflict–and how these are killing people.

Here’s a fascinating Q&A with the author …

Source: Stanford professor: “The workplace is killing people and nobody cares”

Congress in 2019: A brief history of congressional investigations


When Democrats take over the House of Representatives they will have to strike a balance between legislation and investigation. As much as some are advising Democrats to build a legislative record, Democrats will also find themselves faced with the need to take up multiple investigations. And so it makes sense to have a look at Congress’s investigatory power and history.

A good place to begin is with a new book by Elise J. Bean, Financial Exposure: Carl Levin’s Senate Investigations into Finance and Tax Abuse. Bean is an attorney who joined the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (known as PSI) in 1985 and worked for Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) until he retired in 2015. She has written a timely history of congressional investigations.

Source: Congress in 2019: A brief history of congressional investigations

Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg: how billionaire philanthropy can hurt democracy | Vox


Rob Reich, a political theorist at Stanford (and no relation to the former labor secretary), begins his new book Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better with the story of the Rockefeller Foundation’s founding, and argues that the skeptics have a point: Foundations, and large-scale charitable giving more generally, pose a real challenge to democratic institutions and norms.

He contends that we ought to be less deferential and more critical and skeptical of billionaires giving away their fortunes.

Source: Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg: how billionaire philanthropy can hurt democracy – Vox

What Sundar Pichai Couldn’t Explain to Congress | Nextgov


Like every other tech-company hearing, it was more hackneyed than illuminating, more painful than inspiring. Pichai is a polished executive who rose through Google’s ranks. He is not a boy king like Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey. You knew he’d do the hard work of preparing. It seemed likely he’d sail through the hearing.

Yet as the hearing got under way, Pichai struggled to make sense of the questions that lawmakers put to him. Even friendly Democratic queries asking him to explain how search-engine rankings worked were met with hesitation and stilted rhetoric. If a rep said a keyword he was prepared for, he gave a scripted response, even if it was only sort of responsive.

Pichai never punched back when conservatives came at him.

Source: What Sundar Pichai Couldn’t Explain to Congress – Nextgov