Facebook Is a Global Mafia


What does Facebook want? To never pay a penny in taxes or fees, for starters. But the larger answer seems to be that Facebook wants the right to devour a country’s advertising market and freely tinker with the algorithmic dials governing what millions of people see. Anything that stands in the way of their autonomy to set a population’s informational intake—or that threatens to undermine the bottom line—is considered a threat. Facebook’s response in Australia shows that it’s not afraid to go nuclear to protect its market dominance and tens of billions in annual profits—a move that implicitly acknowledges that the company has too much power.

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Jacob Silverman — The New Republic

The Royals & Their Fictions


Morgan similarly oversteps in his account of the breakdown of the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. The heir to the throne is shown surrendering to the charms of a teenager 13 years his junior at a vulnerable moment—following the murder in 1979 of his grand-uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in an IRA bombing. This much rings true, but then The Crown has the prince abandoning his bride and relying on his lover, Camilla Parker-Bowles, immediately following the wedding. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Princess Diana said famously in a 1995 BBC interview—and the show doubles down on that take. The messy reality that a woman chosen for her virginity—her suitability as future queen, in the traditional view of the role—would prove incompatible with an older man who had very different interests, is pushed aside for a simpler story: A young, well-intentioned beauty is shamefully used by a selfish, over-entitled stuffed shirt.

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Clare McHugh — Commentary

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How Priyanka Chopra Jonas Gets It Done


On social-media criticism:
Girl, I learned how to deal with that in a year or so [into my career]. Now I’ve been a public person for most of my life — it comes with brickbats and bouquets. You make that deal with the devil, the fact that I’m going to do this job, and I’m for consumption, news about me is for consumption — I made peace with that 20 years ago. So it doesn’t bother me unless it affects my work or my family. But my job is tangible. I go to a set, I create a movie, a TV show. This is what my work is. The freedom and beauty of social media is to create a medium for conversations. I have a tremendous amount of love and support on my social media from people who are interested or curious. At the same time, my relationship with social media changed after large, obscure “scandals” or chatter online that were baffling to me. I’m not as free, open, or vulnerable as I used to be. I monitor my relationship with the internet. I consume it for the positives.

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Hope Resse — The Cut

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The New Americans


Here, in other words, was Occupy Wall Street in action, but maybe a hundred times more effective: ordinary people protesting against the financialization of the U.S. economy by taking collective action to squeeze the short-sellers, saving companies they cared about and saving thousands of jobs belonging to the people who work at those companies, while forcing the suits to disgorge some part of the money they were making by treating the market like a giant video game and squeezing the life out of companies for profit. Give the money back to the people! And hats off to them boyz and girlz willing to show their faith in collective action by putting their measly day-trading accounts on the line. What a perfectly American act. What a demonstration of collective solidarity in action at a time of increasing social atomization and economic suffering, in the dead of winter, in the middle of a pandemic—why, I could just go on and on and on. …

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David Samuels — Tablet Magazine

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The Amazing 30-Year Odyssey of a Counterfeit Saudi Prince


His true identity, which was revealed after his arrest at J.F.K. airport last November, isn’t Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia, but Anthony Enrique Gignac, a Colombian orphan adopted by an American couple and transported to Michigan when he was six years old. Embarking on a life of crime and deception that spanned 30 years, he became an “epic con artist” for whom “no scheme is out of reach,” according to a U.S. attorney. His most recent scam involved allegedly duping 26 international investors out of $8 million, while simultaneously attempting to con Miami billionaire Jeffrey Soffer, the ex-husband of supermodel Elle Macpherson, into taking him on as a partner in the Fontainebleau hotel. Gignac initially pleaded guilty to both schemes—only to reverse himself at a hearing in July, where his attorney successfully argued for a trial by jury.

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Mark Seal — Vanity Fair

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Maradona as memory, myth, and metaphor


But the technically unparalleled Messi has never been as beloved as Diego. Messi is a genius who makes his teammates better, but Maradona’s gift was more precious: he made everyone believe they were great and could be greater. Maradona was at his best when representing the underdogs: the Argentine national team, of course, beating England and Germany en route to win the 1986 World Cup. Even more famously, though, at Napoli, where Maradona led a group of mostly average players (like the inconspicuous Careca and Alemão) to triumphs unprecedented for the small team: two Italian leagues, one Italian Cup, one Italian Super Cup, and one UEFA Cup.

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Ezequiel Zaidenwerg — The Baffler

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Best-Case and Worst-Case Scenarios


My best-case scenario for what’s going on now is—assuming that within the next half year, we do deal successfully with the COVID crisis—that it will become a model for people all around the world recognizing common problems, rallying together to deal with a common problem. My best-case scenario is that, having defeated COVID, we will go on to attempt to defeat and succeed in defeating climate change. For that reason, I see a potential silver lining, and that’s my best-case scenario for what’s going on now.

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Jared Diamond — Edge

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Conflict of Pinterest


IN 2015, PINTEREST—allegedly the kinder, nicer tech company—partnered with the consultancy Paradigm to increase diversity in the company, whose workforce remains only 4 percent Black. Yet even as the usual platitudes about diversity and inclusion and bringing change to the boys’ club that is the tech world were being mouthed on the outside, inside the company, a different and racist reality prevailed. According to a report in the Washington Post, a Black female employee, the only one on her team, was told by a white supervisor not to speak during meetings, after which the supervisor took credit for her work. Another executive “joked” that she should play the “servant” and “serve” the other members of the team.

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Rafia Zakaria — The Baffler

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What the data say about border closures and COVID spread


This suggests that travel restrictions weren’t justified later in the pandemic except in highly connected countries, or in regions with low transmission that wanted to keep the virus out, says co-author Mark Jit, an infectious-disease modeller at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Preventing travel from high-prevalence countries would be sufficient to reduce exposure in many regions, says Jit.

“Countries shouldn’t instinctively say that, just because there is a pandemic, we should have travel restrictions.” Hoffman says that observational studies are now needed to tease out the effectiveness of countries completely shutting their borders. “There is a good chance that a whole lot of what we are doing is causing more harm than good.”

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Smriti Mallapaty – Nature

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The Son of a Mixed Marriage


EARLY INTO Naji Bakhti’s Between Beirut and the Moon, the novel’s protagonist Adam hides in a single bathroom with his family from Israeli aircraft bombs dropping in the distance. As the hours pass, Adam’s father asks him and his younger sister about school, literature, and soccer to distract them, while his chain-smoking mother reminds him that he’s “lucky” because he will now have inspiration as a writer later on. Adam resents his mother’s positive spin; not only does he find her use of black humor unsettling — after all, no citizenry would possibly be thankful for being bombed — but he dreams with unflinching determination of becoming an astronaut, not a writer: “I wanted to shout back … to exclaim that there was probably infinitely more inspiration in space than there ever would be in a tiny old bathroom in Beirut.”

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A. J. Naddaff — Los Angeles Review of Books

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