A mockup of a Richard Branson-Rupert Murdoch scrabble game. / Sinclair
The Baffler,  February 29, 2016

Daily Bafflements

A mockup of a Richard Branson-Rupert Murdoch scrabble game. / Sinclair
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• Remember when Mark Zuckerberg decided to slaughter his own food? And when he embraced thank you notes? No, we had carelessly forgotten, too. Those were the days when we all still thought he was dull and robotic, not “the aspirational model in chief” he is recognized as—with a little hindsight!—in 2016. In 2009, the maverick original decided “to wear a tie every day.” David Graeber wrote on the symbolism of the necktie in his Baffler no. 27 salvo, “Dickheads,” and commented on its uniformity: “its very effacement of individuality is itself one way of expressing power.”

• In Quartz, Leah Reich explores corporate attempts to rebrand empathy: “empathy as not a soft nurturing value but a hard commercial tool,” “these are the most empathetic companies in the world,” and so on. In Baffler issue 29, Merve Emre visited the business school class that teaches literature under the banner “The Moral Leader,” in which empathy is taught “not a precursor to a politics of solidarity but a method for acquiring and maintaining power over others.”

• Baffler contributing editor Barbara Ehrenreich reviews Matthew Desmond’s Evicted in the Times, concluding that “poverty in America has become a lucrative business, with appalling results.” Exploitation, as Desmond writes, is “a word that has been scrubbed out of the poverty debate.” 

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Further Reading

 April 17

Or, put it this way: Paul Ryan went out onto the tightrope. The crowd, so long adoring their golden child, cheered. But a jester got the best of Ryan.