A Call to Inaction on Defense Acquisition Law | Defense One


All of the defense-acquisition-reform legislation passed in recent years by Congress has been well-intentioned; some of it has also been helpful.

Various rapid acquisition and Other Transaction Authorities have helped speed new capabilities to the field. Other changes have helped protect the national security innovation base, shoring up the process by which the Treasury Department reviews foreign investments in U.S. manufacturers, countering Huawei’s dangers, and urging DOD to protect its supply chains. Still other provisions have usefully encouraged more commercial practices in DOD.

But too much recent legislation is burdensome beyond its benefits.

Source: A Call to Inaction on Defense Acquisition Law – Defense One

A Reset of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body | Council on Foreign Relations


The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the rules-based trading system face an existential threat from the Donald J. Trump administration’s blockade on appointments to the WTO’s top court—the Appellate Body.

As of December 2019, the Appellate Body had too few members to decide cases, leaving pending appeals in limbo and threatening to turn every future trade dispute into a mini–trade war.

The Appellate Body’s demise has brought renewed focus on the important role it has played in resolving trade disputes while opening the door to reforms long-sought by the United States.

Source: A Reset of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body | Council on Foreign Relations

Why Global Governance of Disease Matters for the Emergence of a Novel Coronavirus | Think Global Health

In the waning days of 2019, a new coronavirus was reported to have emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Reports linked initial clusters of cases to a seafood market (one where many animal species were slaughtered and sold).

In the subsequent weeks the virus has spread throughout the province, to other parts of China, and now to countries around the world, with cases reported in four of the six regions of the World Health Organization (Western Pacific, Southeast Asia, Americas, and Europe.)

The epidemiologic information about the virus is being developed by teams of researchers around the world, yet as of January 26, we still do not know exactly how infectious the virus is (how many people do we expect one person to infect), we do not have confirmation regarding routes of transmission, its precise severity, nor if any therapeutics are more helpful than others.

Source: Why Global Governance of Disease Matters for the Emergence of a Novel Coronavirus | Think Global Health

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U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China

“China wants to replace the United States as the strongest and most influential power in Asia and beyond,” warns Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy Robert D. Blackwill. “Washington should launch an all-out effort to limit the dangers that Beijing’s economic, diplomatic, technological, and military expansion pose to U.S. interests in Asia and globally,” he writes.

To more effectively compete with China, Blackwill offers proposals starting with modernizing U.S. domestic infrastructure, improving education, and harnessing next-generation technologies. On the foreign policy front, Blackwill recommends spending fewer resources on the Middle East, deepening ties with allies in Asia and Europe, shifting military assets to Asia, and seeking a more constructive relationship with Russia.

Source: U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China

The idea of intellectual property is nonsensical and pernicious | Aeon Essays


A general term is useful only if it subsumes related concepts in such a way that semantic value is added. If our comprehension is not increased by our chosen generalized term, then we shouldn’t use it.

A common claim such as ‘they stole my intellectual property’ is singularly uninformative, since the general term ‘intellectual property’ obscures more than it illuminates. If copyright infringement is alleged, we try to identify the copyrightable concrete expression, the nature of the infringement and so on.

If patent infringement is alleged, we check another set of conditions (does the ‘new’ invention replicate the design of the older one?), and so on for trademarks (does the offending symbol substantially and misleadingly resemble the protected trademark?) and trade secrets (did the enterprise attempt to keep supposedly protected information secret?) The use of the general term ‘intellectual property’ tells us precisely nothing.

Source: The idea of intellectual property is nonsensical and pernicious | Aeon Essays

Certain Unflattering Truths | Jennifer Schaffer


When the tech world rang the bell, my subconscious—hungry, ambitious, curious—answered. It was the equivalent of setting down a long book to pick up your phone when its screen flashes white, then forgetting about the book entirely.

The salary was transformative: after five years of Sisyphean payments which had barely covered interest, my student debt vanished in nine months flat. Every aspect of my life was subsidized by unseen venture capitalists, whose faith in my employer’s eventual profitability resulted in a sugar-daddy generosity: my rent, my errands, my meals, the spin classes I needed when those meals caused me to gain fifteen pounds.

On days when the work felt exhausting or demeaning, I’d slip into a meeting room, check my bank balance, and feel a sense of embarrassingly intense relief. On days when I found myself worrying over “ethical grey areas,” the kitchen staff (always women, almost always women of color, almost certainly the company’s most diverse team) would roll through each floor with a three-tier dessert cart, proffering petits fours or miniature Croques Monsieur or honey-drizzled figs: parodic emblems of the Antoinette-ish wealth the Valley’s procession of IPOs seemed to promise.

Source: Certain Unflattering Truths | Jennifer Schaffer

The Internet of Beefs


A beef-only thinker is someone you cannot simply talk to. Anything that is not an expression of pure, unqualified support for whatever they are doing or saying is received as a mark of disrespect, and a provocation to conflict. From there, you can only crash into honor-based conflict mode, or back away and disengage.

Online public spaces are now being slowly taken over by beef-only thinkers, as the global culture wars evolve into a stable, endemic, background societal condition of continuous conflict. As the Great Weirding morphs into the Permaweird, the public internet is turning into the Internet of Beefs.

The Internet of Beefs, or IoB, is everywhere, on all platforms, all the time.

Source: The Internet of Beefs

Why it’s only science that can answer all the big questions | Aeon Ideas


The triple-pronged armoury of science – the observational, the analytic and the computational – is now ready to attack the real big questions.

They are, in chronological order: How did the Universe begin? How did matter in the Universe become alive? and How did living matter become self-conscious?

When inspected and picked apart, these questions include many others, such as – in the first question – the existence of the fundamental forces and particles and, by extension, the long-term future of the Universe. It includes the not-so-little problem of the union of gravitation and quantum mechanics.

Source: Why it’s only science that can answer all the big questions | Aeon Ideas

In 2040, your boss will track your every glance and keystroke


“Employers have an insatiable appetite for information about employees, whether it’s relevant or not,” says Lew Maltby, head of the National Workrights Institute. “Employers have never passed up the chance to get more information about employees, and it’s hard to believe that they’re going to pass up the chance here.”

New forms of worker surveillance are subtler, however, and may not look like surveillance at first.

Source: In 2040, your boss will track your every glance and keystroke

How the end of the white majority could change office dynamics in 2040


Why 2040 specifically?

Twenty years from now, Gen Z and millennials will be fully incorporated into the workplace, while Gen X will be stepping back. In many ways, the world of 2040 will look very different, thanks to shifting demographics, climate change, and the widespread adoption of technologies that track and automate every aspect of our daily lives.

On the other hand, 2040 isn’t so far off that we can’t use the present as a guide.

Source: How the end of the white majority could change office dynamics in 2040