I thought this post from Peter Merholz was a nice philosophical step-back for usability.
One of the things that has been hard for the “usability community” to accept is that usability is not really interesting in and of itself. And that usability isn’t really a goal, and it’s definitely not the end-all be-all. Usability is simply a quality. It’s an important quality, but just one of many. And it definitely doesn’t warrant being a “discipline.” [More]
Kind of goes with Tufte’s observation that a superbly usable site does not equal a superbly designed site. Extend that thought with this post and you get the idea that a high level of usability is a quality of a superbly designed site (or, a site that provides great user experiences).
Useit.com: Usable, sure. Pretty, nope. My experience at useit.com is never that great because I don’t feel good about the visual design. I always find what I came for, but I am never inspired to do greater work or humbled at the work of a master.