The Sunday Post for July 8, 2018

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

Survival of the Richest

It’s time for a tech revolution. No, not that revolution — the other one, where we re-write our future without an apocalypse. Here’s media thinker/writer Douglas Rushkoff on the folks who can afford, literally, to be fatalist about where this all is heading. Are we going to sit back and let them build a world only they can survive? Well, are we?

When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family. And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place. All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.

They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves  —  especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.

Disposable America

Something’s changed lately in the land of iced coffee: the tide of public opinion has turned against the humble and, yes, environmentally harmful drinking straw. Alexis Madrigal traces the utensil’s history (which is sort of like the story of the three little pigs, if their houses had been made of straw, paper, and plastic) and, fascinatingly, its entanglement with the evolution of capitalism in the United States.

Global competition and offshoring enabled by containerized trade was responsible for some of the trouble American manufacturing encountered in the 1970s and 1980s. But the wholesale restructuring of the economy by private-equity firms to narrow the beneficiaries of business operations contributed mightily to the resentments still resounding through the country today. The straw, like everything else, was swept along for the ride.
Expecto patriotism: the magical yet dark world of Russian Harry Potter rip-offs

Apparently, one of the seven basic plots on which all stories are built is Harry Potter. A thriving sub-genre of Russian fiction is looking to capitalize on the incredibly successful series — but with a few tweaks.

In the Porry Hatter series Harley, a rip-off Hagrid, tells Porry, a rip-off Harry, about the house elves, a magical species recently freed from slavery, led by a character known as Martin Luther King Jr. And, controversially, how the elves, after becoming free citizens, became lazy, living solely off crime. This xenophobic attitude might not be exclusively Russian but is still very widespread here. “Ideas of getting a job and becoming a part of our society turned out to be alien to the newly freed house elves, and they, not knowing what to do with all their free time, started to steal, beg, listen to rap music, and — what would you think? — fight with each other,” Harley explains.
The Eugenicist Doctor and the Vast Fortune Behind Trump’s Immigration Regime

A classic “how the money moves” piece by Brendan O’Connor, showing how powerful a single person’s racism and hate can be — if the person has enough money. In this case the person is John Tanton, an ophthalmologist and eugenicist who used someone else’s fortune so effectively to advance the anti-immigration cause that he might be considered the father of our current ICE. Immensely frustrating to see yet another example of just how much money does, and how the very rich can protect their privilege today while shaping a future where their power will continue to consolidate and grow.

Um. Well, we went a little grim there at the end, but it’s a good read regardless.

While the Center for Immigration Studies bills itself as an independent, non-partisan research organization, it is in fact a key node in a small network of think tanks and nonprofits, founded and directed by a man whose private correspondence contains praise for anti-Semites, fascists, and race scientists of various ideological backgrounds, many of whom would go on to figure prominently in today’s so-called alt-right and financed largely by one of the oldest and wealthiest families in America.
Falling Men

No matter how indifferent you are to the World Cup, this essay by Alejandro Chacoff on the art of the fake fall will charm your shin pads off. Honestly, I had to Google just now to see whether the tournament was over so I wouldn’t embarrass myself (more), and I still followed this to the last delightful line. Like the role of the hockey enforcer, taking a dive in soccer/football (your pick) is one of those sociological side-turns that only sports can offer with a straight face. Read on!

Most of my American friends don’t understand why certain players fall at the slightest touch. The dive is something beyond their grasp. It involves two grave infringements of American morality in sports: a willingness to cheat, and the demonstration — perhaps the celebration — of physical weakness and self-pity. (The flop, basketball’s closest equivalent, is less dramatic and tends to be associated with foreign players.) To be strong and athletic, full of skill, and then to break down once you reach the penalty area seems absurd. In many ways it is.