Saturday Links: September 16


You are the product -- London Review of Books

This is staggering: “Facebook needs content, obviously, because that’s what the site consists of: content that other people have created. … There are, for now, lots of willing providers: anyone on Facebook is in a sense working for Facebook, adding value to the company. In 2014, the New York Times did the arithmetic and found that humanity was spending 39,757 collective years on the site, every single day. Jonathan Taplin points out that this is ‘almost fifteen million years of free labour per year’. That was back when it had a mere 1.23 billion users.”


There’s Blood in the Water in Silicon Valley - Buzzfeed

How the dystopia described above may come crashing down.


Imagined Arabies - Diwan from the Carnegie Middle East Center

Charles Paul Freund discusses the boom in dystopian fiction from the Arab world.


What the Caves Are Trying to Tell Us - The Outline

“Somehow, without anyone intending it to, the idea that we do know what these cave symbols mean has permeated modern society. It’s there in a whole vast complex of normative judgments: when we talk about the diets and lifestyles that are natural and good, when we complain that mobile phones and social media are perilously rewiring our brains, when we vaguely condemn technology in general for drawing us away from our original (and implicitly Paleolithic) human nature... It’s the idea that we can meaningfully relate our world to that of our Stone Age ancestors, as if we knew anything whatsoever about what kind of world they lived in. This is an incredible violence against that lost universe, a place grander and stranger than we could possibly imagine.”


Chronopolitics: Long Wave Theory Comes Up Short - Stratfor

Evola pirates a Hindu cosmology of cyclical time; Bannon bastardizes Evola to produce a theory of civilizational conflict. But is there any validity at all to the idea of cyclical history?


Forget the Parthenon: how austerity is laying waste to Athens' modern heritage - The Guardian

“Monumenta estimates that, since the 1950s, as many as 80% percent of Athens’ buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries have been destroyed.”


The New Meaning of Whiteness - The New Yorker

“One of the defining features of living in a putatively classless democracy, as has often been observed, is a constant feeling of status anxiety. In the absence of a clearly delineated hierarchy, we determine where we belong by looking above, at those we resent, and below, at those we find contemptible.”


Was Charlottesville the exception or the rule? - New York Times Magazine

“The horror we seem to only now be noticing is an effect of our country’s longstanding commitment to white supremacy. But I am unclear about when we ever lived without its effects. Was there ever a moment when the persecution of nonwhite Americans wasn’t the norm?” (Short answer: no.)


Could Father Mychal Judge Be the First Gay Saint? - Slate

“A saint is not just someone who has ticked off certain boxes of Catholic virtue. He is also someone who, in the words of Pope Francis, as he canonized two former popes in 2014, ‘gives direction and growth to the Church’—a church that, in 2017, still regards homosexuality as ‘objectively disordered.’ In Judge’s embrace of his own sexuality—even if it was a celibate embrace—he presents an implicit challenge to Catholic orthodoxy. Sixteen years after Mychal Judge’s death, what would it mean for the Catholic Church to elevate an LGBTQ person to sainthood and all the honors that come with it?”