CJW: Welcome to another issue of nothing here. As ever, there is a lot happening out there in the world and we can only cover a slice of it, but hopefully you find something worthwhile in these pages.
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Our latest bonus was from Marlee: the introduction to a work-in-progress tentatively titled The Farm.
CJW: We Need To Talk About The Carbon Footprints Of The Rich - Genevieve Guenther at Noema
But in these past 30 years, the emissions of the poorest 50% of people have grown hardly at all: They represented a little under 7% of global emissions in 1990, and they remain a little over 7% of global emissions today. By contrast, the richest 10% of people are responsible for 52% of cumulative global emissions — and the 1% for a full 15%.
On the idea of the personal carbon footprint and the criminal emissions of the ultra wealthy, as well as global disparities in wealth and emissions and other related topics.
The idea that even one metric ton of [our remaining carbon budget to give ourselves a 50/50 chance of halting global heating at 1.5°C] should be used for yachts, private jets, new wardrobes every three months […] or even unnecessary commercial flights relies on the dehumanization of the people — generally people of color — who live in the places where the planet is unravelling first.
A great piece.
CJW: Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown - Damian Carrington and Matthew Taylor at The Guardian (via Foreign Exchanges)
Oil and gas majors are planning scores of vast projects that threaten to shatter the 1.5C climate goal. If governments do not act, these firms will continue to cash in as the world burns.
Every news outlet in the West should be covering this, and topics like this one should dominate election discussions (it’s federal election time here in Aus). But instead we’re still moving so slowly toward grappling with climate change or, as demonstrated here, we’re moving backwards for relatively short-term profits.
And I wonder why I’m depressed at the state of things.
CJW: Balance of Terrors - Zachary Loeb at Real Life Mag
Anders was not only concerned with the humanity of his age, but with future generations whose lives were also at stake. As he put it, these are our “neighbors in time,” and “by setting fire to our house, we cannot help but make the flames leap over into the cities of the future.” Granted, this presents a challenge: The fact that the threat extends beyond the present and into the distant future only makes the potential scope of disaster harder to imagine. […] Anders believed that people had to imagine not just floating cities and space rockets, but irradiated ruins and nuclear missiles. After all, imaging the future and realistically predicting the future are quite different things.
On the writings of Günther Anders and despair and fear in the face of nuclear annihilation. For obvious reasons, I read it as relating to climate change, even though the piece doesn’t mention it at all.
Coincidentally, it’s not the only piece I’ve read recently that talks about Bert the Turtle and Duck and Cover.
MKY: “You should not begin your day with the illusion that what surrounds you is a stable world.”
CJW: I am literally planning to put that on a t-shirt.
A law unto themselves - David Renton at The Ecologist
Renewables Met 100% of California’s Energy Needs for the First Time Ever - Audrey Carleton at Vice
Scientists Discover Method to Break Down Plastic in Days, Not Centuries - Audrey Carleton at Vice
Brazil’s Amazon deforestation hits April record, nearly double previous peak - Jake Spring at Reuters
Climate limit of 1.5C close to being broken, scientists warn - Damian Carrington at The Guardian
Climate denial is dead on Facebook. What replaced it is more insidious - Nat Rubio-Licht at Protocol
World Order Is A Geopolitical Orphan - Nathan Gardels at Noema
Britain Is Planning to Outsource Its Refugees to Rwanda - Chris Dite at Jacobin (via APH)
Who Becomes A “Terrorist” in Post-Roe America? - foreverwars.substack.com
The Real Winner of the Ohio Republican Primary Is Peter Thiel - Noah Lanard at Mother Jones
The New New Right Was Forged in Greed and White Backlash - Natasha Lennard at The Intercept
NI election results 2022: Sinn Féin wins most seats in historic election - bbc (DCH: maybe TNG was on to something after all.
MKY: All of the bases in DNA and RNA have now been found in meteorites - Liz Kruesi, sciencenews
YUSSS PANSPERMIA! YUSS LIFE IS PROLLY EVERYWHERE MAYBE. WE ARE NOT SPECIAL. THE UNIVERSE WILL BE FINE AFTER WE’RE GONE. EARTH PROLLY TOO.
SpaceX is harming endangered species, new docs show - Sarah Roach, protocol
Wealthy nations are carving up space and its riches—and leaving other countries behind - Theodora Ogden, The Conversation
The Surprisingly Sophisticated Mind Of An Insect - Carrie Arnold at Noema
[…] while all of us, as individuals, are expected to render ourselves objectively “knowable,” techno-capitalism only wants to be known on its own terms, rendering vast chunks of its actual methods, processes, and infrastructures inscrutable. For the most part, they remain invisible as well.
An interesting and fairly short piece on the lies/illusions of techno-capitalism. Morozov, as ever, asking important and enlightening questions of the SV status quo.
DCH: Elon Musk Left a South Africa That Was Rife With Misinformation and White Privilege - Lynsey Chutel and John Eligon at The New York Times
Still, Errol offered a description of their lives that underscored how removed they were from the country’s violent reality. They got along well with Black people, he said, pointing to his children’s good relationship with their domestic staff, and he described life in South Africa during apartheid as being mostly better and safer than it is now.
Emphasis mine. No wonder racism is rampant at Tesla.
DCH: Amazon stock has lost nearly all of its gains from the pandemic - Annie Palmer at CNBC
The stock closed at $2,177.18 on Tuesday, up just .06% from Monday. The last time Amazon traded around these prices was on Feb. 20, 2020, when the stock reached an intraday high of $2,176.79. That’s before the name dipped in March 2020 along with the rest of the market during the initial pandemic uncertainty in the U.S. It’s more than 40% off from the company’s 52-week intraday high of $3,773.08, which it hit July 13, 2021.
Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving piece of shit company. Nice to see Uber getting fucked too.
DCH: Magic Numbers - Alana Mohamed, Real Life
Tech companies have long tried to promote the convenience of their products as a form of magic to hide the kinds of labor exploitation and material consumption they necessitate from their consumers. Their devices and interfaces were “magic” in part because they gave a sense of unprecedented power or control, not just because users didn’t understand how they worked. Content algorithms are magic in a different sense, evoking an impression of fate beyond our control, that we must surrender to a fundamental inability to understand our world or even ourselves and our own desires.
Fantastic read. Touches on criti-hype, game theory derived oversimplification of people and much more. You’ll enjoy if you’re a fan of Cory Doctorow or Adam Curtis.
Presence in VR should show tiny people, not user avatars (Interconnected) - Matt Webb - CJW: An interesting little piece about VR and embodied computer interaction.
Partisan Fight Breaks Out Over New Disinformation Board - Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times
New Majority Gives F.T.C. a Chance to Push an Aggressive Agenda - Cecilia Kang and David McCabe, The New York Times
Facebook keeps finding new ways to be utterly evil - Andrew Paul, input
Twitter takeover temporarily on hold, says Elon Musk - Dan Milmo and Alex Hernin London and Dani Anguiano at The Guardian (DCH: This concern about bot accounts is a lie. As is the notion he even really wants it to be a private company.)
Denise said she and supporters have called 10 different agencies in Toronto over the past six months to locate housing with reduced chemical and smoke exposure that she can afford on ODSP.
“None of them were able to do anything meaningful in terms of getting me relocated, getting the discretionary emergency, or temporary housing and emergency funds,” said Denise.
Applying for medically assisted death has been surprisingly easier.
The neutral journalistic tone early in this piece really grated on me. This is not a human interest story, it’s the eugenics of liberalism. Glad to see that by the end the author gets to some choice quotes that put this story in the proper context.
MKY: I liked this better when it was a plot point in the VR/Metaverse afterworld show Upload. Kinda. (Not really.)
The videos invited the viewer to marvel at a surreal collision of low cost and abundance. The comments, in keeping with the mood, were performatively supportive (“BOD GOALS”). At some point, someone would question whether such cheap clothing could possibly be ethical, but a chorus of voices would leap in to defend Shein and the influencer with equal zeal (“There so cute tho.” “It her money, leave her alone.”) and the original commenter would go silent.
Fast fashion hurts us all. Shein’s practices are unsustainable on a global level, yet #sheinhaul isn’t stopping any time soon.
LZ: Lion-Print Carrefour Carrier Bag Causes Tension In Meru, by Jemimah Mueni at Capital News
Remember Baudrillard, that dude who wrote about simulacra and simulations? Well, he would love this news. I guess Adorno with his “hyperreality” stuff would appreciate it too.
DCH: A Crime Beyond Belief - Katia Savchuk, The Atavist
Strangely, other clues didn’t seem connected to the Dublin crime. Among the recent destinations on the car’s GPS was an address in Huntington Beach, 400 miles south of Lake Tahoe. In the trunk, Carausu saw a blood-pressure cuff, a camouflage tarp, and a mesh vest with a wireless speaker in one of the pockets. She also found a BB gun, a dart gun, and a Nerf Super Soaker that had been painted black, with a flashlight and a laser pointer taped to the barrel. Stuffed in a large duffel bag was a blow-up doll in black clothing, rigged with wiring so that it could be made to sit or stand. The bag also contained a military-style pistol belt, its pouches crammed with two pairs of Speedo swim goggles. Carausu pulled one of them out. Black duct tape covered the lenses. Caught in the tape was a long strand of blond hair.
The Atavist specialises in very long reads.Each issue of the magazine is dedicated to one story. This is one of the most batshit crazy true crime stories you’ll see in a good long while.
MJW: A fantastic article about one man’s spiral into mental illness and crime. Even though it was a million years long, I couldn’t look away.
DCH: The Cult of the Veiled Prophet - Devin Thomas O’Shea at Protean
Each December in St. Louis, Missouri, a secret society dedicated to an enigmatic character known as “the Veiled Prophet” hosts a debutante ball. Fifty daughters of the rich are paraded forth on the arms of their fathers’ colleagues, their business partners, their friends from the club. Onstage, they bow before an anonymous figure seated on a golden throne, his face hidden behind a veil. One lucky daughter is crowned the Veiled Prophet’s Queen of Love and Beauty. She takes her seat beside the faceless man. She is the only debutante allowed to wear white.
An absolutely bizarre and frightening story about the racist right-wing power brokers, corporate executives, and intelligence agency higher ups that sit behind the scenes in St. Louis.
Data Broker Is Selling Location Data of People Who Visit Abortion Clinics - Joseph Cox at Vice
PayPal Has Begun Quietly Shuttering Left-Wing Media Accounts - Branko Marcetic at Jacobin
‘Not ugly, just poor’: how the beauty industry is widening the class divide - dazeddigital.com
‘Holy Bibles’ NFTs Ask You to Join the ‘Metachurch’ - Samantha Cole, Vice
MJW: Why COVID-19 gaslighting by politicians is so dangerous for democracy - Jason Hannan at The Conversation
The now-quaint 2020 slogan “We’re all in this together” has since been replaced with the dire prescription — “Assess your own risk.” Political leaders have reversed course, urging their constituents to “learn to live with COVID.”
The dismantling of pandemic infrastructure, however, suggests that those constituents must learn to live instead as if COVID-19 no longer exists. By removing basic protections that enabled us to survive the pandemic for the last two years, public health policy has effectively been rewritten in light of the desires, demands and delusions of anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers and COVID-19 denialists.
MKY: I am shocked to learn that collectivism and mutual aid that saved many lives and eased the lives of many more are now attempting to be erased by a major push for individual responsibility from above, after the end of a crisis no less. Esp when, looking around, things have never been worse. So glad we’ve got an election coming up. That’ll fix everything.
This feels related:
DCH: The End of Roe v. Wade Won’t Motivate Democrats - Sara Gironi Carnevale, The New Republic
Back when Roe was decided, the prototypical abortion patient was young, white, highly educated, and ambitious, and seeking an abortion to fulfill career goals, self-actualize, or postpone a family—all perfectly valid reasons that nonetheless differ from those expressed by the typical abortion patient today, who is older with children already, Black, and low-income, and who usually reports opting for abortion because she can’t afford another child. In short, the anti-abortion movement is class war disguised as culture war, and reproductive justice must entail not just the right to abortion but resource redistribution and funding of the sorts of universal programs that the far right has used issues like abortion to block.
This is one of the most painful but truthful reads you’ll see on the topic. This is class war funded by some of America’s richest corporations. Democrats, for all their rekindled zeal on a woman’s right to choose, have had 50 years to codify that into law. And they haven’t time and again.
There’s a much more fundamental questions at play here and one eloquently and sharply posed by Laura Penny. Are women people or are they things? Do women have a Right to Life?
CJW: More proof that “pro-life” is a lie:
And lastly, ‘Can You Describe This?’ - Charlotte Shane at The New York Review of Books
I couldn’t tolerate more than a few pages of the leaked draft, which is incoherent from the start, full of rhetorical errors. It affirms that the powerful don’t need to justify themselves, and cannot, because their abuses are unjustifiable. Their sheer existence is an affront; their presumption of dominion, an obscenity. So instead they brandish their stolen authority to convey their point, which is that they, and only they, make decisions for the rest of us.
A great personal essay related to the leaked US Supreme Court abortion ban draft.
The Stealth Privatization of Medicare Is a Big Boon to Wall Street - Matthew Cunningham-Cook, jacobin
Pandemic killed 15M people in first 2 years, WHO excess death study finds - Beth Mole, arstechnica
Guns Now Kill More Children and Young Adults Than Car Crashes - Tanya Lewis, Scientific American
CJW: Regime Change? - Mona Ali at Phenomenal World
Understanding this emergent world economic order requires complementing Hyun Song Shin’s famous “matrix of balance sheets” approach to financial globalization, with a lens that sees the global dollar system as a matrix of monetary, military, and legal dominance. We are witnessing the waxing of a new chapter in this system—if we are in a new era called Bretton Woods III, it is the most weaponized form of the global dollar system yet.
On the current and evolving state of global economics in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as a related recent history of global economics, dollar weaponisation, and other imperialist and colonialist economic manoeuvres of the US and UK. I’d be lying if I understood everything in this piece, but I got a lot from it.
DCH: Amazon Just Fired Two Union Organizers Who Helped Win Amazon’s First Union - Lauren Kaori Gurley, Vice
On May 3, Amazon’s human resources notified Matt Cusick, the comms lead for Amazon Labor Union and an Amazon warehouse worker, that he had been terminated for “voluntary resignation due to job abandonment,” according to an email obtained by Motherboard. Cusick had been on COVID-related leave.
Amazon notified another warehouse employee, Tristan Dutchin, an outspoken ALU organizer, whose photo has been prominently featured across major media outlets in recent weeks, in a meeting on May 7 that he had been terminated for falling behind on productivity targets, Dutchin told Motherboard.
This is, of course, illegal as fuck.
DCH: Cryptocurrencies Melt Down in a ‘Perfect Storm’ of Fear and Panic - Ephrat Livni, David Yaffe-Bellany, and Erin Griffith at The New York Times
The price of Bitcoin plunged to its lowest point since 2020. Coinbase, the large cryptocurrency exchange, tanked in value. A cryptocurrency that promoted itself as a stable means of exchange collapsed. And more than $300 billion was wiped out by a crash in cryptocurrency prices since Monday.
The fourth crypto winter has arrived. Coinbase has even said if they go bankrupt then their customers would be their creditors. Fun!
Leaked Memo Reveals Apple’s Anti-Union Talking Points for Store Managers - Lauren Kaori Gurle at Vice
Madonna’s NFT Collab With Beeple Is a Matryoshka of Vagina Horrors - Sarah Rose Sharp at Hyper Allergic
The Back-to-the-Office Gang by Jen Wieczner at curbed
Amazon Is Busting Unions. Biden Is Giving Them Huge Federal Contracts Anyway. - Matthew Cunningham-Cook, jacobin
Gen Z is falling into debt thanks to ‘buy now, pay later’ startups - Annie Rauwerda at Input
This latest issue of Ospare’s newsletter is a great read covering knowledge, ideology, communication, and consent. The breakdown of the split between conservatives and reactionaries is clear and succinct, but that’s only a tiny part of it. Well worth reading in full.
LZ: Notes on Grief, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A very short and painful book. I haven’t read anything by Chimamanda before, but like her, I experienced very painful losses during the pandemic – thankfully they didn’t happen for Covid-19 though. This was one of the few books that made me cry while reading, but I suppose the same effect will only be reproduced in case the reader has experienced some loss recently or too deeply.
The Forest and the Ecogothic: The Deep Dark Woods in the Popular Imagination, by Elizabeth Parker
Very interesting analysis of horror, fantasy, and science fiction works that deal with the horrors of the forest and of nature. Parker is pretty much an academic when writing, but I still found her book very interesting – especially if you know the works she uses as references. If you enjoyed movies like The Village, Blair Witch Project, Annihilation, or even Snow White and the Huntsman, there’s a lot of very interesting insights and the proposition of a genre named ecogothic in addition to ecohorror.
Not a book recommendation, but a bookstore that followed me on Instagram. They are located in Australia and since there’s quite a few Australian friends writing and reading here, I thought it could be an interesting addition for those who like esoteric and occult books that might be rare and hard to find.
MJW: Everything Everywhere All At Once
I braved the cinema for this one, and the film is so good that if I had got covid I would have still been kicking myself, but slightly less than if it had been something less fucking fantastic. Michelle Yeoh is phenomenal. More movies need middle-aged female protagonists. More movies need googly eyes and talking rocks and hotdog fingers. More movies need to be this fucking odd. It looks great while still looking real (Yeoh’s red quilted vest and floral patterned shirt feel so everyday, even as she spans the multiverse.) The sci-fi elements blend seamlessly with a realistic family drama. You just have to see it. Nothing I can say would do this film justice.
LZ: Rosemary’s Baby and Holy Motors
Hello, it’s me again watching classic cult movies that everybody saw already, except me. What can I say? Rosemary’s Baby made me cut my bangs again after watching that beautiful thing that is Mia Farrow in this movie. It’s excellent and so contemporary in spite of being filmed by the end of the 60s. Props to whoever chose Farrow’s outfits and the decoration of their home: a real time traveller as the same trends are again back in fashion.
Now, about Holy Motors: it took me ages to finally watch it, but I finally did and I’m dying to learn that both Cosmopolis and it were released in 2012. They are SO MUCH alike that I would even say one ripped the plot from the other, although HM is more original. Anyways, a beautiful and chaotic movie with a musical cameo of Kylie Minogue speaking French. I loved it.
MKY: Holy Motors is so fucking good! That kid in _Cosmopolis _was decent too. He might go places. YEAR OF THE RAT!
DCH: Russian Doll Season 2
I was apprehensive when news got out that there was going to be a second season. Having binged the whole second season in a day I can say I was wrong to be hesitant. The same unique mix of magical realism x absurdism is on display here. I’ve heard it loosely described as “Colombo meets Doctor Who” which is apt but far from incomplete. Natasha Lyonne’s Nadia is _the most _New York character in pop culture today – makes me miss home.
LZ: Millennial Preach Garbage, by Zen Mother
IT’S FINALLY HERE!!!! I waited for this album for two years since it was announced to be released! Due to a scandal involving one of the band members, they were expelled from the label where they were originally releasing this album, but now it’s finally here and it’s beautiful. Highlight to the tracks Order, Henri Matisse and The Fugitive.
Kiss of Death, by IC3PEAK
They are back and on fire. I already recommended this Russian duo here, but not only have they released this new amazing album but they’re also touring in Europe and donating profits to Ukraine. Highlights to the tracks Dead But Pretty, Vampir, Are you scared? I’m not and Let’s die together… or basically the whole album lol.
Preorders are up for this fantastic, forward-looking and hopeful sci-fi (solarpunk-ish, but I imagine it will be broader than that) anthology with a stellar line-up of authors involved.
On this episode, the buddies revisit Fisher’s blogpost “Terminator Versus Avatar” and explore its extended implications for the contemporary.