It’s been awhile so I thought I’d revisit the point behind Kvick Tänkare posts. From the Swedish it translates roughly as ‘Quick Thinking’. My intent is to provide a hodge podge (perhaps a smorgasbord?) of ideas from a range of sources and fields in one place. I’ve always believed that exposure to disparate pieces of information helps make new connections and creates the opportunities to view old subjects in new ways.
Or, you could just look at is as a blogging miscellaneous drawer…
1) After 9/11 the CIA built a program to recruit people to be spies with ‘non-official cover’ (agents who couldn’t pose as embassy staff and instead appeared to be students, business people, etc.). Well, ten years and $3 billion later and what’s the verdict?
“It was a colossal flop,” a former senior CIA official said in sentiments echoed by a dozen former colleagues, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a classified program.
According to the story, some of the reason behind the failure was the lack of skills but it was also good old fashioned bureaucratic inertia.
“There was just a great unwillingness to put NOCs in really, really dangerous places,” said another former case officer. “If you’re a high-grade agency manager, are you going to sign off on a memo that puts Joe Schmuckatelli in Pyongyang? Whether you are a careerist or not, that is a hard decision for anybody to make.”
So, here’s to you Joe Schmuckatelli.
Of course, if you want to get your paranoia on, you could say this was all just a clever planted story so foreign intelligence services and terrorist groups (and foreign businesses perhaps?) would lower their guard. I’m not sure the CIA has demonstrated that sort of skill in the past but it’s possible.
2) An interesting article by Dilbert creator Scott Adams about when we should simplify
in order to get a task done and when we should focus on perfecting a process. Too often it seems we simplify as a way to get the undesirable stuff done quickly and focus on the stuff that we find interesting but it’s not clear that results in the best outcomes. Probably would have been useful to think about Healthcare.gov in these terms over the past couple of years.
3. About a year ago, Tell Tale Games put together a small game based on the TV Series/Comic Book The Walking Dead. It was brilliant…in fact, probably better than both the TV series and the comic book. Calling it a game, which technically correct, is a bit misleading since it was primarily a story in which the reader (or player if you must) could make some decisions. In essence a ‘choose your own adventure’ story. The trick was putting together a story which conveyed real depth and more character development than I’ve seen in the original products. I was totally invested in the game.
So, it comes as a pleasant surprise to hear that the same company is making games based on the Game of Thrones book/TV series and the Borderlands game. If they can keep up the high standards of plotting and writing this could be great. Beyond simple gameplay I wonder if there isn’t a broader audience for something like this where the audience can directly influence the flow of the story.
4. In New York state, a lawsuit was recently filed to grant chimpanzees the status of ‘personhood’. The lawsuit is being brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project, led by Steven Wise (who I wrote about several years ago
). Before you get all wound up about chimps getting social security or voting, they aren’t talking about that. In light of ever more compelling research about animal cognition and consciousness, Wise recommends essentially a sliding scale of rights to a wide range of creatures. In our current legal system, animals are considered property (insert awkward comparison to slavery here) yet that no longer seems tenable both in terms of our culture and the existing science. Given that chimps are the closest to us physically and in evolutionary status they’re starting with them.