British developer Kim Davies has been fined for leaving children in unmarked graves to commit what a judge has deemed crimes against good taste. / Liz West
The Baffler,  August 20, 2015

Daily Bafflements

British developer Kim Davies has been fined for leaving children in unmarked graves to commit what a judge has deemed crimes against good taste. / Liz West


• Today in plutocrat interior design: one British property developer is under fire for decorating a historic Welsh mansion with the one-hundred-fifty-year-old gravestones of small children, culled from a nearby cemetery. Kim Davies faces fines of up to £300,000 for cementing the stones to the mansion’s interior walls and paving a patio with them.

• Stuart Whatley takes on the social-media acrobatics of the current presidential primary, and the swooning of the news media to cover each candidate’s latest Vine video or Instagram photo, citing Evgeny Morozov’s Baffler no. 27 salvo on the failures of tech criticism.

• Speaking of tech criticism, re/code offers the latest take on Google’s rebranding as “Alphabet”: it’s hard to get old in Silicon Valley. As much as we feel for Larry and Sergey, it’s much harder to get old without their piles of money, so we’re happy to point out that organized labor is slowly rolling into the Valley, from Apple bus drivers to digital media companies like Gawker, Salon, and now Vice.

• After waiting with bated breath through weeks of Trump-related news, we’ve finally heard more on the platform of futurist presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan. In a Huffington Post op-ed, Istvan describes his “transhumanist” campaign platform and the coffin-shaped “Immortality Bus” he plans to drive across America to raise awareness for policies that support radical life-extension research. Says Istvan,

We believe in the 21st century everybody has a universal right to a happy and indefinite lifespan, regardless of their heritage, age, or income. Our goal is not only to make your life and the lives of your loved ones better, but to do this for all the people on Earth.

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High on the Apocalypse

Jessa Crispin

Maybe we all just decided it was cooler to be George Orwell (who came from money) than H. G. Wells (who did not)—cooler to be the smirker saying, “Pah, it'll never work,” than to be the kid chirping, “Here is what we can do.” The H. G. Wells we find profiled in Krishan Kumar's Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times was someone who suffered greatly and wanted to help prevent the suffering of future generations. He was someone who cycled through great optimism and great despair, but kept coming back to optimism, believing that equality is possible without totalitarianism. He treated his ideal society—in which property would be held communally, the state would be run by the enlightened, and all would be free to express their eccentricities without being marginalized for it—as neither an impossibility nor an inevitability, but as something that could be willed closer by way of the imagination. Yet his critics, like Orwell and Aldous Huxley, felt free to mischaracterize his work and compare his vision to the vision of the Nazis. You know who has a vision of the future? Those actively working to destroy it.

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