Seattle brewed: Amazon’s rapid growth transforms a city — but it’s complicated | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A cautionary tale for those cities vying to be the second headquarters of Amazon. Raleigh, be careful what you wish for.

“Seattle was a great place to live before Amazon. If you can afford it, it’s a great place to live now. That’s the caveat — if you can afford it,” said Knute Berger, a Seattle native and historian who is a columnist for Crosscut.com and editor at large for Seattle Magazine.

Mr. Berger wrote a commentary for Crosscut titled “Bidder beware,” warning the countless cities, including Pittsburgh, competing for a shot at Amazon’s second headquarters and its promise of 50,000 jobs that they may end up with more than they bargained for.

“That sounds crazy because of the success of the company. But Amazon has come with costs, too, for the community. Not everyone is a winner in the Amazon economy,” he said.

Source: Seattle brewed: Amazon’s rapid growth transforms a city — but it’s complicated | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Another Victim of Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico’s Treasured Rainforest – The New York Times

It’s sad to read of the devastation to the El Yunque rainforest. It is a national treasure.

LUQUILLO, P.R. — When you looked up, you could once see nothing but the lush, emerald canopy of tabonuco and sierra palm trees covering El Yunque National Forest.

That was before Hurricane Maria obliterated the only tropical rain forest in the United States forest system. Left behind was a scene so bare that on a recent visit, it was possible to see the concrete skyline of San Juan about 30 miles west — a previously unimaginable sight.

El Yunque, pronounced Jun-kay, has been an enormous source of pride in Puerto Rico and one of the main drivers of the island’s tourism industry. The 28,000-acre forest on the eastern part of the island has over 240 species of trees; 23 of those are found nowhere else. Over 50 bird species live among the forest’s crags and waterfalls.

But sunlight now reaches cavities of the forest that have not felt a ray of light in decades, bringing with it a scorching heat.“Hurricane Maria was like a shock to the system,” said Grizelle González, a project leader at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, part of United States Department of Agriculture. “The whole forest is completely defoliated.”

Source: Another Victim of Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico’s Treasured Rainforest – The New York Times

You Do You

Steve Crider, senior recruiter at McKinsey, recently posted this story on LinkedIn:

“Years ago, I cold-called a candidate about a new opportunity. It was a big step up from his current role, and he had all the right skills and qualifications.

“Sorry, but I’m not interested,” he politely said.

I pressed him on it until he said something that really confused me. He told me that he “already made it to the top”.

I was familiar with his current company and looked at his resume again. He wasn’t anywhere near the top. He would have needed a telescope to see the top. He wasn’t even a manager yet.

He explained to me that “making it to the top” for him meant he loved the exact work he did each day, he loved his company, he was treated fairly and with respect, he made enough money to be comfortable, he had excellent benefits, he had flexibility, and most importantly to him, he’s never missed a single Little League game, dance recital, parent-teacher conference, anniversary, birthday, or any family event.

He knew what taking the next step in his career meant. More time, travel, and sacrifice. “Not worth it,” he said.

Your definition of “making it to the top” doesn’t have to be society’s or anyone else’s definition. You Do You.”

U.S. and Turkey announce tit-for-tat travel restrictions, a sign of deteriorating alliance – The Washington Post

Now let’s see if saner forces within Turkey and the U.S. can reign in the craziness and thuggishness we’ve seen in U.S.-Turkey relations. This drastic move hopefully will spur some more responsible parties to intervene.

ISTANBUL — The increasingly strained alliance between Turkey and the United States took a sharp downward turn Sunday when both governments abruptly announced they were canceling most visitor visas between the countries, sowing confusion among travelers and exposing a widening rift between the NATO partners.The crisis began when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital, announced it was immediately suspending all non­immigrant visa services at diplomatic facilities across Turkey. The move appeared to be retaliatory, coming days after the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrested an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul.

An embassy statement said it was limiting visitors to U.S. missions while it “reassesses” Turkey’s commitment to the security of American personnel — an extraordinary rebuke that underscored a rapidly deteriorating relationship between the longtime allies. Within hours, the Turkish Embassy in Washington released a nearly identical statement announcing its own suspension of nonimmigrant visas for Americans. 

Source: U.S. and Turkey announce tit-for-tat travel restrictions, a sign of deteriorating alliance – The Washington Post

‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia | Technology | The Guardian

“Everyone is distracted. All of the time.”

A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who complain about the rise of the so-called “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy.These refuseniks are rarely founders or chief executives, who have little incentive to deviate from the mantra that their companies are making the world a better place. Instead, they tend to have worked a rung or two down the corporate ladder: designers, engineers and product managers who, like Rosenstein, several years ago put in place the building blocks of a digital world from which they are now trying to disentangle themselves. “It is very common,” Rosenstein says, “for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.”

Rosenstein, who also helped create Gchat during a stint at Google, and now leads a San Francisco-based company that improves office productivity, appears most concerned about the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day.

There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.”

Source: ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia | Technology | The Guardian

The East India Company: The original corporate raiders | William Dalrymple | World news | The Guardian

A lengthy but compelling account of the East India Company and the dangers of corporate rule.

The painting shows a scene from August 1765, when the young Mughal emperor Shah Alam, exiled from Delhi and defeated by East India Company troops, was forced into what we would now call an act of involuntary privatisation. The scroll is an order to dismiss his own Mughal revenue officials in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, and replace them with a set of English traders appointed by Robert Clive – the new governor of Bengal – and the directors of the EIC, who the document describes as “the high and mighty, the noblest of exalted nobles, the chief of illustrious warriors, our faithful servants and sincere well-wishers, worthy of our royal favours, the English Company”. The collecting of Mughal taxes was henceforth subcontracted to a powerful multinational corporation – whose revenue-collecting operations were protected by its own private army.

It was at this moment that the East India Company (EIC) ceased to be a conventional corporation, trading and silks and spices, and became something much more unusual. Within a few years, 250 company clerks backed by the military force of 20,000 locally recruited Indian soldiers had become the effective rulers of Bengal. An international corporation was transforming itself into an aggressive colonial power.

Source: The East India Company: The original corporate raiders | William Dalrymple | World news | The Guardian

How I learnt to loathe England | Prospect Magazine

The Dutch and the British have a lot in common, at first sight. Sea-faring nations with a long and guilty history of colonial occupation and slavery, they are pro free-trade and have large financial service industries—RBS may even move its headquarters to Amsterdam. Both tend to view American power as benign; the Netherlands joined the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Shell, Unilever and Elsevier are just three examples of remarkably successful Anglo-Dutch joint ventures. I say “remarkably” because I’ve learned that in important respects, there is no culture more alien to the Dutch than the English (I focus on England as I’ve no experience with Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland). Echoing the Calvinist insistence on “being true to oneself,” the Dutch are almost compulsively truthful. Most consider politeness a cowardly form of hypocrisy. Bluntness is a virtue; insincerity and backhandedness are cardinal sins.

So let me try to be as Dutch as I can, and say that I left the UK feeling disappointed, hurt and immensely worried. We did not leave because of Brexit. My wife and I are both Dutch and we want our children to grow roots in the country where we came of age. We loved our time in London and have all met people who we hope will become our friends for life. But by the time the referendum came, I had become very much in favour of the UK leaving the EU. The worrying conditions that gave rise to the result—the class divide and the class fixation, as well as an unhinged press, combine to produce a national psychology that makes Britain a country you simply don’t want in your club.

Source: How I learnt to loathe England | Prospect Magazine