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News 03.15.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 03.15.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Always On

In December, it’s common for writers to highlight some of their best work from the year in Twitter threads. Almost without exception, these threads seem laced with self-deprecating humor, irony, or, more often, some combination of both. A more matter-of-fact or even earnest tone was somehow not an option; instead what seemed required was a kind of ironic disavowal of disavowal with regard to our online presentation: The tone foregrounds the idea that we all must put on an act that fools no one. I was sympathetic myself. Truth be known, I didn’t post such a thread precisely because I didn’t think I could pull that tone off.

That tone’s peculiar kind of self-consciousness seemed to me connected to the anecdotes of depleted willpower that Anne Helen Petersen described in “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.” Take, for example, Tim, who could not quite manage to register to vote ahead of the 2018 elections, or Petersen herself, who admits to what she calls “errand paralysis”: “I’d put something on my weekly to-do list, and it’d roll over, one week to the next, haunting me for months.”

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

News 03.15.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Facebook’s Crisis Management Algorithm Runs on Outrage

News 03.15.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

One year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mark Zuckerberg says the company really cares. Then why is there an endless cycle of fury and apology?

Last year, a Facebook user in Sri Lanka posted an angry message to the social network. “Kill all the Muslim babies without sparing even an infant,” the person wrote in Sinhala, the language of the country’s Buddhist majority. “F—ing dogs!”

The post went up early in 2018, in white text and on one of the playful pink and purple backgrounds that Facebook Inc. began offering in 2016 to encourage its users to share more with one another. The sentiment about killing Muslims got 30 likes before someone else found it troubling enough to click the “give feedback” button instead. The whistleblower selected the option for “hate speech,” one of nine possible categories for objectionable content on Facebook.

For years nonprofits in Sri Lanka have warned that Facebook posts are playing a role in escalating ethnic tensions between Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Muslims, but the company had ignored them. It took six days for Facebook to respond to the hate speech report. “Thanks for the feedback,” the company told the whistleblower, who posted the response to Twitter. The content, Facebook continued, “doesn’t go against one of our specific Community Standards.”

The post stayed online, part of a wave of calls for violence against Muslims that flooded the network last year. False rumors circulated widely on Facebook claiming Muslims were putting sterilization pills in Buddhists’ food. In late February 2018 a mob attacked a Muslim restaurant owner in Ampara, a small town in eastern Sri Lanka. He survived, but there were more riots in the midsize city of Kandy the following week, resulting in two deaths before the government stepped in, taking measures that included ordering Facebook offline for three days.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

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‘Billions,’ ‘Succession’ and the Making of Wealth Porn

Two years ago, Aidan Sleeper needed to find an apartment.

Sleeper, the locations manager for “Billions,” returning Sunday for its fourth season on Showtime, scouted more than 100 places that list for tens of millions of dollars, but he couldn’t find the right one. “It was impossible,” he said.

The apartment wasn’t for his own use — he and his wife rent in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. No, he had to lock down a Manhattan residence for Bobby Axelrod, the “Billions” hedge fund phenom played by Damian Lewis. The space couldn’t be comfortable or cozy. It needed to intimidate, astound, overwhelm, gut punch your breath away.

“We always joke, ‘billionaire, not millionaire,’” Sleeper said on a January morning at the “Billions” production office in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as he scrolled through a desktop folder of photos. He clicked for a moment on a $65 million triplex that hadn’t impressed him when he toured it: “You walk in there and it’s like, really?” He shrugged and scrolled on.

Months after his initial deadline had passed, as he was viewing a ho-hum TriBeCa penthouse, he saw, from its terrace, another penthouse blocks away. A glass box plunked on top of an old print factory, it had a double-height living room, a wraparound terrace, 270° views of the Hudson and the East River, too. It was urban, masculine, almost stark in its poured concrete floors and severe lines — it said billionaire, not millionaire. He rented it.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 03.15.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Fearing For His Life

News 03.15.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

 Orta and Eric Garner were deciding where to eat when the police approached. Orta immediately raised his cellphone and hit record. He’d been doing that a lot lately. Many living in the Tompkinsville neighborhood of Staten Island felt they lived under constant surveillance by the 120th Precinct. Orta and Garner had often talked about how just leaving their homes meant expecting to be followed, stopped, searched. Orta knew from experience that anything could happen during these interactions. And so for him, it had become a form of self-defense to film the police.

Orta’s video — soon to be seen by the world — showed Garner trying to explain that he’d done nothing wrong. Then a police officer wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck, gripping him in a chokehold until he collapsed. The video showed Garner saying eleven times that he couldn’t breathe. It showed the officers ignoring Garner’s distress, pushing his head into the pavement, letting him lose consciousness there, die there.

Now, near midnight, Orta was in his apartment, the door locked behind him. His house was dark. His family was asleep. He went to the window, looking for the black Crown Vic that had tailed him as he’d walked home. He checked the security of the locks on the door, then checked again. He got into bed, but sleep wouldn’t come. Images from the day swirled above on his dark ceiling.

The police killed my friend, he thought.

Read the rest of this article at: The Verge

The Strongmen Strike Back

News 03.15.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Of all the geopolitical transformations confronting the liberal democratic world these days, the one for which we are least prepared is the ideological and strategic resurgence of authoritarianism. We are not used to thinking of authoritarianism as a distinct worldview that offers a real alternative to liberalism. Communism was an ideology — and some thought fascism was, as well — that offered a comprehensive understanding of human nature, politics, economics and governance to shape the behavior and thought of all members of a society in every aspect of their lives.

We believed that “traditional” autocratic governments were devoid of grand theories about society and, for the most part, left their people alone. Unlike communist governments, they had no universalist pretensions, no anti-liberal “ideology” to export. Though hostile to democracy at home, they did not care what happened beyond their borders. They might even evolve into democracies themselves, unlike the “totalitarian” communist states. We even got used to regarding them as “friends,” as strategic allies against the great radical challenges of the day: communism during the Cold War, Islamist extremism today.

Like so many of the theories that became conventional wisdom during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, however, this one was mistaken. Today, authoritarianism has emerged as the greatest challenge facing the liberal democratic world — a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge. Or, more accurately, it has reemerged, for authoritarianism has always posed the most potent and enduring challenge to liberalism, since the birth of the liberal idea itself. Authoritarianism has now returned as a geopolitical force, with strong nations such as China and Russia championing anti-liberalism as an alternative to a teetering liberal hegemony. It has returned as an ideological force, offering the age-old critique of liberalism, and just at the moment when the liberal world is suffering its greatest crisis of confidence since the 1930s. It has returned armed with new and hitherto unimaginable tools of social control and disruption that are shoring up authoritarian rule at home, spreading it abroad and reaching into the very heart of liberal societies to undermine them from within.

Read the rest of this article at: The Washington Post

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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