New Plan: Be Competent

You go out with people sometimes, and you’re just like “Hold up, you’re a person?!? How? How are you– how do you pay rent? How do you have a job? How are you paying taxes? How is the world not crumbling around your idiocy?!?” You meet people so dumb that you get scared for their safety. Shit, I better walk this person home, they might just walk out into the street and get hit by a bus! They can’t even have a conversation! They’re just texting and Instagram-ing pictures of salt shakers – what happened to people?!?

– Aziz Ansari, Buried Alive (2013)

Aziz may be telling a joke, but that frustration feels awfully familiar. Haven’t we all struggled to cope with a clueless manager, or been trapped on the wrong end of a customer service call with a support rep who can’t do basic math? On some days, it can truly feel like incompetence is everywhere. Well, get ready to add some scientific research to that pile of anecdotal evidence! While they may not have his comic flare, Raffealla Sadun, Nicholas Bloom, and John Van Reenen provide real data to support the outlook expressed in Aziz’s tirade.

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Reel it in, Fellas: Crappy Music Edition

Observations, reactions, and outrage from the extremes of popular culture

The week of August 21st, 2017 was not a good week for popular music. Taylor Swift’s newest single, Look What You Made Me Do, somehow managed to miss the mark for an ‘edgy rebrand’ and instead land in the robot porn soundtrack genre. High(low)lighted by a voicemail message explaining that the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now because she is “dead” (GET IT SHE IS EDGY AND DIFFERENT NOW), the song stands out as an astounding example of self-absorbed, poppy garbage. It makes me sad… yet somehow, the gap between Swift’s shitburger and the worst music moment of the week is larger than the gap between the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West standings (schadenfreude, you are delicious!).

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Google and Gatekeepers

Pop quiz! Who won the Super Bowl in 1998? Don’t know? Here, let me help you with that. In the information age, the answer to almost any question – no matter how meaningless – is just a couple clicks away.

But what if Google changed it’s mind? What if, starting tomorrow, anyone who searches “Who won the Super Bowl in 1998?” saw the Cleveland Browns instead of the Denver Broncos?

Okay, good point. Unrealistic example.

What if, starting tomorrow, anyone who searches “Who won the Super Bowl in 1998?” saw the Oakland Raiders instead of the Denver Broncos? Maybe people would know something was off tomorrow, but how long before we lose track? By 2044, would people know to question the search result?

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