Technology

Tech Meets Trump

Jacob SilvermanDecember 16, 2016
Hawaii Savvy
Hawaii Savvy

It’s clarifying to see the oligarchy assemble itself in the open. President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet selection show has offered a murderer’s row of venal billionaires, spousal abusers, wild-eyed ex-generals, Christian fundamentalists, racists, and the self-admittedly incompetent. Beyond a shared ideology, the common thread is Trump’s total obsession with money and success and his inability to see the world as anything but a series of business deals.

Cars Entering and Leaving Mosul

Sam KrissOctober 21, 2016
Joel Bombardier
Joel Bombardier

What they don’t tell you about the battle for Mosul is how boring it is, hour by hour, day by day. From my vantage point near the Iraqi village of Bartella, ISIS positions are visible in the smoke-filled distance, across the crinkled flatness of Nineveh; in front of me, gangs of weary Peshmerga fighters clump about in their fatigues as an endless line of armored cars trundles slowly through their ranks.

Our New War Machines

Scott BeauchampSeptember 12, 2016
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8139509919_308ff4b6a9_z-2

For an institution synonymous with tradition and continuity, the American military is in quite a radical state of flux. In just the six or so years since I left the Army, two major demographic shifts that might superficially appear unrelated (or even contradictory) have taken place within the Department of Defense.

Elon Musk, Fatalist

Daniel OberhausAugust 19, 2016
Elon Musk
Elon Musk

Odds are that you’ve heard by now that SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said something Totally Trippy at Recode’s Code conference earlier this summer. According to the darling of Silicon Valley, “the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions,” meaning that we are almost certainly operating in a computer simulation created by some far-future civilization.

Flu in the Face

A. S. HamrahFebruary 04, 2016
Invasion of the Killer Bees. / M&R Glasgow
Invasion of the Killer Bees. / M&R Glasgow

Anyone who spends time in enclosed public spaces is barraged with images from television news, most often broadcast from the default network, CNN. We glimpse these images, with the sound down, for only seconds at a time as they bounce, germ-like, from corner to corner, chasing us on our way.

“He Sees You When You’re Sleeping”: The Baffler Gift Guide

Hannah GaisDecember 21, 2015
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15944856180_043acdca77_k

“You have zero privacy anyway,” Scott McNealy, the chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems, told reporters in 1999. “Get over it.”

McNealy, a trailblazer for the many Silicon Valley “makers” who have since thrown privacy under the bus, wasn’t wrong.

Thought Leaders as Loss Leaders

Chris LehmannDecember 02, 2015
Lars Plougmann
Lars Plougmann

The breathless, investor-beguiling fable that the next iteration of the Web has to be the smart one has been around long enough now to qualify as a touching millenarian faith, like the quadrennial fiction of a “deep” GOP presidential field, or the diehard belief that the Chicago Cubs will eventually make it all the way through the postseason.

Metrics All the Way Down

Jacob SilvermanJuly 08, 2015
Bruegel's Tower of Babel is only worth as much as each of the pixels your eyes sweep over. / zblog
Bruegel's Tower of Babel is only worth as much as each of the pixels your eyes sweep over. / zblog

According to Spotify, the value of one play of a Willie Nelson song in an Ole Miss dorm room at 4 a.m. is around 0.68 cents, but why stop there? When everything is data and data can be called down through the air, “song” and “book” and “movie” become embarrassing units, too big to measure anything.

The Unbearable Emptiness of Politics as Code

Corey PeinJune 30, 2015
Bland Peter appeared only in cardboard cut-out form
Bland Peter appeared only in cardboard cut-out form

Nothing inspires nihilism quite like physical proximity to a U.S. presidential campaign. Having attended my first pseudo-event of the 2016 election cycle in San Francisco, I must now banish the encroaching numbness by speaking its name. Evil, thy name is campaign hackathon!

Show Those Pearly Whites

Charles DavisJune 30, 2015
Blinking Lei
Blinking Lei

Officially, things have rebounded since Wall Street collapsed and the world’s wealthiest and most rugged individualists turned to Washington for a bailout. Corporate America is now raking in more money than ever before, and unemployment rates continue to fall, inching back toward pre-2008 lows.

Not the People’s Uber

Jacob SilvermanJune 24, 2015

“The idea of a discount luxury is an oxymoron,” Sarah Maslin Nir said recently on the Longform podcast. “And it’s an oxymoron for a reason: because somebody’s bearing the cost of that discount.” 

In this case, Maslin Nir was referring to wage theft and harsh working conditions at New York City nail salons, the topic of her latest investigative series for the New York Times.

Bloomberg’s Baby Davos

Corey PeinJune 22, 2015
Michael Bloomberg and Silvio Berlusconi are neighbors in Bermuda. / balloonshish
Michael Bloomberg and Silvio Berlusconi are neighbors in Bermuda. / balloonshish

 In January 2012, when he was still mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg announced that he would spend the year mastering the lucrative but laborious work of computer programming, and that his tutor would be an internet startup called Codecademy.