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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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.