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Culture war games: walking into glass walls

Apple’s New Spaceship Campus Has One Flaw – and It Hurts
By Mark Bergen

The centerpiece of Apple Inc.’s new headquarters is a massive, ring-shaped office overflowing with panes of glass, a testament to the company’s famed design-obsessed aesthetic.

There’s been one hiccup since it opened last year: Apple employees keep smacking into the glass.

Surrounding the building, located in Cupertino, California, are 45-foot tall curved panels of safety glass. Inside are work spaces, dubbed “pods,” also made with a lot of glass. Apple staff are often glued to the iPhones they helped popularize. That’s resulted in repeated cases of distracted employees walking into the panes, according to people familiar with the incidents.

Some staff started to stick Post-It notes on the glass doors to mark their presence. However, the notes were removed because they detracted from the building’s design, the people said.

The building is designed to house some 13,000 employees. Wired magazine, first to pay a visit at its opening last year, described the structure as a “statement of openness, of free movement,” in contrast to Apple’s typically insular culture. “While it is a technical marvel to make glass at this scale, that’s not the achievement,” Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief, told the magazine in May. “The achievement is to make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk.”

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Posted in Games.


Culture war games: backfire effects

Walter Lippmann on liberty and the news: A century-old mirror for our troubled times
By Roy Peter Clark

At the time of his death in 1974, Lippmann had achieved a special status among newspaper columnists. He won two Pulitzer Prizes. His opinion was sought out by presidents and thought leaders across the globe. He was a founding editor of The New Republic. Most important, he took journalism seriously, not as a trade or even a profession, but as an instrument of democracy. He coined the phrases Cold War, and the manufacture of consent, and the use of the metaphor “stereotype” to describe thoughtless generalizations.

[On power and importance of objective fact]:

“The cardinal fact always is the loss of contact with objective information. Public as well as private reason depends upon it. Not what somebody says, not what somebody wishes were true, but what is so beyond all our opining, constitutes the touchstone of our sanity.”

“For, in the last analysis, the demagogue, whether of the Right or the Left, is, consciously or unconsciously an undetected liar.”

“There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the information by which to detect lies.”

“It may be bad to suppress a particular opinion, but the really deadly thing is to suppress the news. In time of great insecurity, certain opinions acting on unstable minds may cause infinite disaster.”

“The desire to know, the dislike of being deceived and made game of, is a really powerful motive, and it is that motive that can best be enlisted in the cause of freedom.”

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Culture war games: unlearning liberty

After five years of ‘Unlearning Liberty,’ book’s prescriptions command urgent attention
By Alex Morey

“It may seem like a paradox,” Greg wrote, “but an environment that squelches debate and punishes the expression of opinions, in the very institution that is supposed to make us better thinkers, can lead quickly to the formation of polarized groups in which people harbor a comfortable, uncritical certainty that they are right.”

Indeed, “we live in certain times.”

Censorship on campus is, of course, nothing new. For most of FIRE’s history, campus censorship seemed to come primarily from the top down. Students complained about administrators selectively enforcing speech codes and ushering them into tiny, misleadingly-named “free speech zones.”

But in “Unlearning Liberty,” Greg noticed a shift: Many of the calls for censorship on campus were suddenly coming from students themselves.

But why?

Greg had a theory. It was starting in college, and spreading.

“I believe that an unsung culprit in this expansion of unwarranted certainty and group polarization,” he wrote, “is thirty years of college censorship.”

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Culture war games: draw a larger circle

Tyranny’s new trick: in Hungary, a government wages war on liberalism
By Nick Cohen

When their enemies win, liberals ought to examine their faults, the better to avoid future defeats. During the attacks on the Central European University, Fidesz propagandists insisted that intellectual freedom was a mirage in a west where safe spaces, trigger warnings and the banning of speakers suppressed free speech and free inquiry. If western liberals censor universities, why can’t the Hungarian state? The question libelled Ignatieff, who has a principled and consistent commitment to intellectual freedom. Yet who can deny that the worst of the Anglo-American academic left is providing ammunition to, and justifications for, the far right? Now, as always, the similarities are as striking as the differences.

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Culture war games: too good not to be true

Where Now for New Atheists?
By Helen Pluckrose

Western society had made good progress towards being able to criticize or mock sacred ideas and promote reason and evidence as a basis for knowledge over subjective belief and revelation. The consensus that religious ideas were entitled to a respectful deference not afforded other ideas had begun to be shaken. However, the last few years has seen something of a reversal. Skeptical, secularist liberals, by promoting skepticism and critical thinking and a respect for evidence over subjective experience and personal “truths,” are accused of a bullying intolerance and even bigotry even though religious privilege still dominates society. The balance is swinging back again against the skeptics, the empiricists, the rationalists and the universal liberals, but the pushback is not driven by the religious.

Western society’s resurgence of respect for subjective and unevidenced narratives and lived experience comes from a philosophical shift in the largely secular Left. The postmodern shift towards irrationalism, subjective truth and faith-based thinking opens the door again to religion, particularly those of minority groups, but also quasi-religious theories and movements within Social Justice. As science and reason and universal liberalism became associated with an oppressive, ruling, western, white, male elite in postmodern theory (thereby “erasing” the contributions of scientists, rationalists and liberals who do not fit the description), the demand to respect “alternative ways of knowing,” unscientific truth claims, irrational belief-systems and illiberal values intensified.

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Posted in Games.