Jason Arias
The Baffler,  April 6

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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Amazon: A Love Story 

In the nationwide tournament to seduce Amazon, Maryland one-upped the competition this week when their Democrat-controlled state legislature agreed to decades of fiscal flagellation in the hopes that the aroma of hefty tax credits will lure the retail leviathan to beget their second headquarters in an abandoned mall in scenic Montgomery County. The bribery package—quaintly dubbed the Promoting ext-Raordinary Innovation in Maryland’s Economy, or PRIME Act—includes some three billion dollars in property, income, and sales tax credits along with two billion dollars in transportation improvements. Some GOP lawmakers, falling in line with their president’s campaign against Amazon, have characterized it as “craziness,” “corporate welfare,” “an expensive pig in a poke,” and as a “gold mine” for one of the largest companies helmed by the richest man in the world. Delegate Herb McMillan, of the eminently wise Republican party, notes, Amazon “need[s] economic stimulus like a fish needs a bicycle.”

 

Oil spills: good for the economy

In a since-rescinded plan to drill for oil off the coast of South Australia, British Petroleum asserted that an oil spill—on the off chance that one just so happened to accidentally take place—would be both “socially acceptable” and a boon to the local economy. After all, someone would have to clean it up. BP, perhaps embarrassed by their unusual prescience in anticipating environmental cataclysm on their watch, regrettably rescinded their initial claims, “Given the project did not proceed . . . the correspondence in question doesn’t represent the final views of BP or the regulator,” according to a BP spoilsport.

 

The grindstone-cum-public forum

Grindr—the cybernated land of cropped torsos revered by the gay community as a more efficient route to hookups more scrupulously screened than those of the bar cruising variety—sashayed into headlines this week when it became apparent the app was sharing its users’ HIV status with other companies. To boot, they were also beaming users’ relationship status, ethnicity, GPS location, and “tribe” (bear, twink, discreet, otter, etc.) into the gaping maws of third-party advertisers. While Grindr quickly reversed course and agreed to halt spreading far and wide the intimate details of its 3.6 million users, this comes as a shocking, just shocking reminder that privacy is dead and that there remains nay a solitary safe space in which to coordinate or perform a quick blowjob without fear of being data-mined. Jumping into the fray to defend Grindr’s founding principles as a cloistral site of discretion and asylum, Grindr’s chief technology officer Scott Chen wrote, “It’s important to remember that Grindr is a public forum.”

 

So rude!

Megan McArdle, the Washington Post’s resident sage, finally uncovered the true cause of the glut of riots in 1968: a lack of respect. You see, while the violence of financial capitalism and the ever-widening chasm of economic inequality might have something to do with why poor folks get themselves into a tizzy and take to the streets, the true catalyst is that they don’t feel respected whilst being systematically eliminated by the police state, they don’t feel respected whilst performing wage slavery.

 

Ikea After Dark

The youth of today, tired of the arbitrary restraints placed on their ability to produce content by the diurnal cycle, have thrown off their bondages and begun staying overnight in the Chuck E. Cheeses, Ikeas, and McDonalds of the world. This new trend, called the Twenty-Four Hour Challenge, requires an aspiring viral star hid out in the retailer of their choice after its been dutifully locked up and then provide commentary on their banal act of rebellion for hours upon hours—all for the unblinking eye of the camera.

 

Best New Soundtrack of Collapse

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time to pump the jams in advance of the leisurely bacchanal of your two-day break from meagerly compensated drudgery! The auditory aesthetes of The Baffler thus present for your pleasure: stage four in a six part study of memory and decay, courtesy of The Caretaker. Evoking the disintegration loops of William Basinski, the haunting reveries of stage four of Everywhere at the end of time exists at the point “where serenity and the ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror.” Which is to say, this is the perfect album for the fresh blooms of spring and the looming threat of nuclear annihilation. 

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