Eric

Public subsidies for professional sports probably aren’t one of society’s top challenges, but good grief they are annoying. In the latest installment, King County may spend $190 million over 20 years for upgrades to Safeco Field (home of the Mariners), much of which will be justified as providing public benefits.

The Cut has a wonderful look at the science of happiness as taught by a professor at Yale. A few choice tidbits:

Our minds, it turns out, are very good at persuading us to follow intuitions about happiness that turn out to be entirely wrong…

Nearly everything you think will make you happier won’t, because nearly everything you’re likely to list — assuming, of course, that your basic life needs are taken care of — is some circumstantial change: more money, a different home or job, a long vacation, or even that enticing snack that lies just beyond the vending-machine glass. Your mind is constantly telling you that if you just got those things, you’d finally, truly, unequivocally be happy. But your mind is wrong and science is right.

We are inclined to assume that circumstances play the biggest role in our happiness, when research suggests they play the smallest role.

Kristin

Tina Fey and Rachel Bloom are not asking for permission from men. Woot.

Slack is killing it when it comes to workforce diversity.

At Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, women hold between 19 percent and 28 percent of leadership positions and between 19 percent and 20 percent of technical roles, according to those companies’ most recent figures. At Slack, women make up 31 percent of leaders and hold 34 percent of technical roles. Also, in Slack’s U.S. workforce, percentages of underrepresented minorities (including black or African-American, Hispanic or Latino, or American Indian or Alaskan employees), are, in some cases, triple that of peer companies. At Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, underrepresented minorities hold between 4 and almost 8 percent of technical roles and make up less than 11 percent of all employees. At Slack, by contrast, underrepresented minorities make up almost 13 percent of technical roles and roughly 13 percent of all employees; they also make up 6 percent of leadership. 

How did they do it?

  • Recruiters are trained to look at skills rather than a candidate’s university pedigree.
  • In 2015, Slack worked with Textio, a company that analyzes job descriptions to ensure they appeal to the widest possible audience. (Slack’s job descriptions feature phraseslike “care deeply” and “lasting relationships,” which statistically draw more applications from women. Microsoft’s, by contrast, feature words like “insatiably” and “competing.” Amazon’s keywords: “maniacal” and “wickedly.”)
  • Slack forwent whiteboard interviews in favor of a blind code review—modeled on the blind auditions that orchestras hold—in which candidates are given a problem to complete at home, or in the office if they don’t have time and space at home because, for example, they care for small children.
  • Slack tried to minimize bias in the interview process by first identifying the characteristics and skills a successful candidate should have—communication skills, say, or capacity for teamwork—then defining what information they needed to assess those skills, and then asking all candidates the same questions, designed to suss out that information.
  • Additionally, interviewers did mock interviews with existing employees, the way doctors practice on fake patients. The interviewers themselves became more skilled—and less likely to introduce biases that could filter out good candidates.

An interesting, thoughtful piece about how toxic masculinity is a burden to men, too; patriarchy is bondage for boys, too. And how we have stripped away any rituals pathways to adulthood from our culture, but not replaced them with anything, so young people are forced to make themselves up as they go along into adulthood.

 

Kelsey H.

The cost of water.

Amazon’s carbon footprint.

  • That report on parks as impacted by climate change.

    The harms of fracking

    Aven

    First up, an important announcement: today is Wear Orange Day in honor of gun violence survivors, and this weekend there are events all over the US to support common sense gun laws.

    In energy news, over half of the new cars bought in Norway last year were EVs,  Massachusetts and Rhode Island are jumping on the off-shore wind bandwagon in a big way, and a “capacity auction” by one of the largest grid operators in the US revealed good news for solar projects.

    Which is *really* good news, considering a new study out of Stanford finds that the benefits of hitting the Paris Agreement GHG emissions targets are 30 times larger than the cost of meeting those goals.

    And finally, an opinion piece I’ve been waiting on for a long time: Why So Many American Women Are Deciding Not to Have Kids. Every time I see one of these articles proclaiming the “mystery” of falling birth rates, all I can think is, have you seen the cost of childcare recently? Do you not know anything about global warming?? HAVE YOU EVER LIVED WITH A TWO-YEAR-OLD? The author, a mother herself, sums it up succinctly: “We’re not making it look easy, because it’s not.” Amen to that.