In the News 08.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Tuesday 8th November, 2016
An American in a Strange Land
I heard it often, traveling around Europe as a journalist. I even heard it from an immigration officer at Gatwick Airport outside London, who teased me as he looked at my passport. I was an American abroad, which meant being held accountable for the strange and fevered state of my homeland, which meant facing some version of the question “What is going on in the United States?” Sometimes the query had an air of schadenfreude, but just as often there was a hint of real concern. The rest of the world already seemed to be going off the rails. It couldn’t afford to have America follow.
I didn’t really know how to respond. I hadn’t lived in the United States since 2003, when The New York Times moved me to Beijing as a foreign correspondent, along with my wife and two kids. We assumed we would move back home soon enough, but it never happened. We lived for six years in China, where our third child was born, followed by four years in New Delhi, where my beat was South Asia. By the time we settled in Rome in 2013, we had drifted into the category of American expatriates. When we saw our countrymen around the city — big, friendly tourists, a bit loud — my kids referred to them as “the Americans.”
Read the rest of this article at The New York Times
Nick Denton, Peter Thiel, and the Plot to Murder Gawker
One day in September 2014 the publisher of Gawker Media, Nick Denton, sent an e-mail to Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist and billionaire. It could easily have been a message to a friend, or at least a kindred spirit, for, as many people who know them both have noted, the two have so much in common.
They are contemporaries: Denton turned 50 this past August, and Thiel 49 two months later. Both were born in Europe—Denton in England and Thiel in Germany. Both graduated from fancy universities—Denton from Oxford and Thiel from Stanford. Both made their fortunes in the digital world; in fact, it had brought them together in San Francisco a dozen or so years earlier. Both are gay, and both came out relatively late. Both are libertarians, and nonconformists, and visionaries, and science-fiction fans, and workaholics, and wonks. Both have resisted getting old, Denton by attitude, Thiel through human growth hormones. Both have a cultish kind of appeal. Both were still wealthy in 2014, though as winner of one of Silicon Valley’s greatest daily doubles—he co-founded PayPal and was Facebook’s first big investor—Thiel was exponentially more so, a fact that stuck in the ultra-competitive Denton’s craw. “Nauseatingly successful” was how Denton once described him. “Does Nick Denton wish he were Peter Thiel?” a headline on Denton’s own gawker.com once asked.
Read the rest of this article at Vanity Fair
The Science of Eggs
I’ve loved the slick-rich contrasts of eggs cooked in the shell ever since tasting my first deviled egg (made with bottled French dressing) decades ago. I’m not a fan of the modern immersion-circulated “63-degree” egg and its ilk, cooked so far below the boil that both yolk and white are creamy. It’s good to see the classic mollet egg—boiled for 5 or 6 minutes—begin to work its way back into salads and noodle dishes.
But the big advantage of the 63-degree egg is that you don’t have to peel it. Just crack the shell and most of it slides right out. With other gently cooked eggs in the shell, the white is tender and solid rather than semiliquid, and peeling remains an unpredictable and frustrating job. Sometimes the shell comes away cleanly, but sometimes it clings to the white, gouging or tearing divots in it. In a given carton there’ll usually be both easy eggs and recalcitrant eggs, and you can’t tell which is going to be which.
Read the rest of this article at Lucky Peach
The Little Gray Wolf Will Come
A talking cat lives outside his door. Every night, when he is falling asleep, it comes. If he opens his eyes he can almost catch its shadow, pacing along the gap where the light shines in through the door. The light is magical, he thinks; it holds enchanted things. He thinks of the cat, and happiness, and bread sprinkled with sugar.
He lives, by day, among the trees in the yard, with the other boys from the kommunalka. Climbing, fighting, catching insects, waging wars. His family shares a communal apartment with four others. In this part of Moscow, that makes them lucky, he knows: The flat upstairs holds 12. Fifty people under one roof. There are no social classes in the workers’ paradise, but his father is a machine-tool adjuster. Families who live in Maryina Roshcha are not well off. Bandits operate in the area; some of them prey on children. Some of them are children.
Read the rest of this article at MTV
The Revolution Won’t Be Televised
For the last several years the word “revolution” has been hanging around backstage on the national television talk-show circuit waiting for somebody, anybody—visionary poet, unemployed automobile worker, late-night comedian—to cue its appearance on camera. I picture the word sitting alone in the green room with the bottled water and a banana, armed with press clippings of its once-upon-a-time star turns in America’s political theater (tie-dyed and brassiereless on the barricades of the 1960s countercultural insurrection, short-haired and seersucker smug behind the desks of the 1980s Reagan Risorgimento), asking itself why it’s not being brought into the segment between the German and the Japanese car commercial. Surely even the teleprompter must know that it is the beast in the belly of the news reports, more of them every day in print and en blog, about income inequality, class conflict, the American police state. Why then does nobody have any use for it except in the form of the adjective, revolutionary, unveiling a new cell phone app or a new shade of lipstick?
I can think of several reasons, among them the cautionary tale told by the round-the-clock media footage of dead revolutionaries in Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia, also the certain knowledge that anything anybody says (on camera or off, to a hotel clerk, a Facebook friend, or an ATM) will be monitored for security purposes. Even so, the stockpiling of so much careful silence among people who like to imagine themselves on the same page with Patrick Henry—“Give me liberty, or give me death”—raises the question as to what has become of the American spirit of rebellion. Where have all the flowers gone, and what, if anything, is anybody willing to risk in the struggle for “Freedom Now,” “Power to the People,” “Change We Can Believe In”?
My guess is next to nothing that can’t be written off as a business expense or qualified as a tax deduction. The hallowed American notion of armed rebellion as a civic duty stems from the letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote from Paris in 1787 as a further commentary on the new Constitution drawn up that year in Philadelphia, a document he thinks invests the state with an unnecessary power to declare the citizenry out of order. A mistake, said Jefferson, because no country can preserve its political liberties unless its rulers know that their people preserve the spirit of resistance, and with it ready access to gunpowder: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
Read the rest of this article at Literary Hub