Miscellanea: May 2018

Links

Milk, a symbol of neo-Nazi hate – Andrea Freeman at The Conversation

The epic mistake about manufacturing that’s cost Americans millions of jobs – Gwynn Guilford at Quartz

Israeli Operatives Who Aided Harvey Weinstein Collected Information on Former Obama Administration Officials – Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker

We read every one of the 3,517 Facebook ads bought by Russians. Here’s what we found – Penzenstadler, Heath, and Guynn at USA Today

RIP the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, 1945-2018 – James Traub at Foreign Policy

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing – Doc Searles at Harvard.edu

The Entire Economy is MoviePass Now. Enjoy It While You Can – Kevin Roose at The New York Times

Europe’s AI Delusion — Bruno Maçães at Politico

Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation – Apuzzo, Goldman, and Fandos at The New York Times

There’s nothing wrong with a census question about citizenship – Marc A. Thiessen at The Washington Post. A counterargument to some of the pushback against the citizenship question. I remain agnostic on the issue, but this article brings up some context to having citizenship questions on census forms and makes me inclined to believe much of the opposition is a tad hysterical.

How the fight against child porn took two men to the internet’s darkest corners – Shamsheer Yousaf at Factor Daily

The Scientific Paper is Obsolete. Here’s What’s Next – James Somers at The Atlantic

Economics renames itself to appeal to international students – The Economist

The Moscow Midterms – How Russia could steal our next election – Clare Malone at FiveThirtyEight

Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It – Jessica Pressler at The Cut

Videos

A Dragon Torched My Hand (How Do VR Haptic Gloves Work?) – Smarter Every Day on YouTube

Gladiator | Turning Spectacle into a Meaningful Story – Like Stories of Old on YouTube

How a recording-studio mishap shaped ‘80s music – Vox on YouTube

Web 3.0 Explained – Siraj Raval on YouTube

The Threat of AI Weapons – Veritasium on YouTube

 

Books

The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday (3/5): This was my third time reading this book, and I got less out of it than I did on previous readings. Holiday treats stoicism as a blunt instrument in The Obstacle is the Way and doesn’t provide much guidance about how to wield it—some sections can essentially be boiled down to “You should do X. Except when you shouldn’t do X. Then you should do Y.”  There are some writers who can successfully trade profundity for punch, however, and Holiday is one of them, enough so that The Obstacle is the Way remains on my bookshelf as a go-to resource when I’m struggling to get out of my own way.

Conspiracy, by Ryan Holiday (4.5/5): Tied with Trust Me, I’m Lying for the crown of Holiday’s best book. The Hogan-Thiel-Gawker affair seems straightforward enough from the headlines—Thiel wanted revenge on Gawker, so he funded Hogan’s lawsuit and crushed them—but such a condensation does no justice to the web of intrigue spun as those events escalated out of such humble beginnings as the outing of a gay entrepreneur. Holiday is clearly more sympathetic to Thiel than to Gawker editor Nick Denton, but not fawningly so, and he provides ample criticism for both sides. Highly recommended for its examination of both the events in question and the nature of conspiracies in general.

Music

Crystal Castles – Sad Eyes

Ghost – Rats

M83 – Un Nouveau Soleil

Tool – Forty-Six & Two

 

Movies

Avengers: Infinity War (4/5) – I enjoyed Infinity War, so I’ll start by saying it was a great movie that skillfully pulled together all the disparate threads of the MCU into a thrilling story, but I think Thanos is overrated as a villain. He’s decently-written, but his motive for killing half the population of the universe doesn’t make him some sympathetic utilitarian a la Watchmen, it makes him an asshole. There needed to be either a more fleshed-out in-universe reason for Thanos wanting to cull the herd or a different motive entirely. There were—as far as I can recall—precisely zero references in previous Marvel movies to an overpopulation problem or some metaphysical principle of “balance,” but as soon as Thanos revealed those to be his motives, edgelords everywhere apparently decided he was the second coming of Jeremy Bentham.

Solo (3.5/5) – Solo certainly wasn’t the best Star Wars film ever, but you’d have to be out of your mind to say it’s a bad movie. Most of its struggles seem to be the result of having to follow so quickly after Rogue One and The Last Jedi and being released so soon after Infinity War and Deadpool 2. I thought it was a fun, well-made film that just got drowned out by excitement of other movies.

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