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How do we experience life? What metaphors do we use to process the seemingly infinite stream of information bombarding us from all directions every single day? How can we mere puny humans make sense of it all?
There is only one way. For any given thing that happens, we must briefly pause and imagine ourselves as a fluffy white cat experiencing snow for the first time. How we, as that cat, understand the snow is also how we understand life. It sounds like the ravings of a madman, but we swear it’s the truth. Take, for example, the tale of the 17-year old high school student who reportedly made $72 million trading penny stocks on his lunch break.
At first, we were like: That’s a lot of money for someone too young to legally buy pornography.
And then, we were like: What an uplifting rags-to-riches tale! Here’s a hard-working child of immigrants working hard and succeeding at a preternaturally young age. This story truly encapsulates everything that’s great about America. There may be hope for the future yet.
And finally, we were like: there’s no way this story is true. In order to have earned that much money, the kid would have had to be getting annual returns that would make Bernie Madoff blush. A credulous media’s desire to uncritically report the story as the gospel truth is a depressingly perfect demonstration as to why the fourth estate has lost so much of the public’s respect on issues both great and small.
What a useful framework. It can also be applied to narratives like…
At first, we were like: North Korea really released the internal emails of a major motion picture studio because their leader, a dude who reportedly contracted gout from eating too much cheese, didn’t like how he was portrayed in a stoner comedy made by the dudes from Freaks and Geeks?
And then, we were like: OMG, look all all these amazing revelations from the leaked emails! Even the people tasked with putting out Adam Sandler movies hate Adam Sandler movies! There could have been a Spiderman–Avengers crossover! Sony actually identified one of the “key themes” of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 as “food & man living in harmony!” Someone thought of those words and then wrote them down! To paraphrase the immortal words of Destiny’s Child, “Lulz, Lulz, Lulz.”
And finally, we were like: Sony has scrapped The Interview’s release and Paramount has blocked theaters from screening Team America: World Police, which similarly used a member of North Korea’s ruling family as its primarily comic antagonist. All of this is starting to feel like a declared enemy of the United States using cyberterrorism to successfully silence speech it doesn’t like. The media’s willingness to hungrily plumb the depths of any salacious leaked material, regardless of its actual newsworthiness, amplifies that threat exponentially. Sony’s decision to back down on releasing the movie sets a dangerous precedent where electronic blackmail becomes the new currency of international diplomacy and everyone’s privacy will be at risk as a result.
Why pulling ‘The Interview’ from theaters is bad for America. Maybe we’ve been watching too much Black Mirror, but what if this whole Sony hack was just part of the single greatest viral marketing campaign of all time? Did you have any desire to The Interview before the hack? No, the answer is no. Do you want to see it now? Yes, more than any other movie that has ever existed.
At first we thought it might just have been another one of James Franco’s inscrutable performance art pieces, except it was too well executed and actually made sense.
The Internet this week.
All decisions in Hollywood will now be made by computer hackers instead of slick studio executives, so we should all get used to a situation where America’s cinematic tastes are governed by the collective id of people whose social skills stopped developing at the age of 13. You won’t notice any difference.
Republicans are not taking resumed relations with Cuba well. Along with his executive action on immigration, normalization of relations with Cuba is likely just a prelude to Obama’s executive order coupe de grace: a full-scale conversion of the United States to the metric system. Goodbye feet, hello Obamameters. You shouldn’t have believed the President when he told the country, “if you like your five dollar foot-long, you can keep it.”
People will get angry about the change but, to paraphrase Jonathan Gruber, that’s only because Americans are too dumb to know a Obamameter-long sub gives them 3.28 times the ham for the same low price.
Wolf Blitzer, whose name sounds like mid-level boss in a Super Nintendo game, would like everyone to know he is aware of today’s popular songs.
The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings (via The Nation).
L. Ron was right.
A new king of online black markets? Call it Evolution. Now for this week’s edition of “Sorry, But The World Is A Complicated Place And We’re All Just Doing Our Best Here, So Cut Us Some Slack”.
At this point, the U.S. government has brought down two online black markets run by libertarian Texans-turned-Silicon Valley brogrammers called The Silk Road. In the wake of the Silk Roads’ closures, a new dark net marketplace called Evolution has risen to prominence. Evolution is largest online black market in history and is growing at a rapid clip, nearly doubling in size over the past two months. The difference between the Silk Roads and Evolution is that the prior two marketplaces limited themselves to “victimless crimes” like drugs. Evolution doesn’t share those some ethical concerns, and sells things like unregistered firearms and stolen financial data.
Silk Road prosecutors want to ban Ross Ulbricht’s libertarian politics in court. There’s probably a moral somewhere about the dangers inherent in libertarianism in how Evolution Marketplace is the logical endpoint of the political motives driving the founders of both Silk Roads. But, since the federal prosecutors trying to put alleged Silk Road 1.0 founder Ross Ulbricht in jail for a very long time are concerned you might not draw that same moral as they did, they’d appreciate if everyone just shut up about political philosophies for the time being.
#Brands on Twitter, amirite?
#askacop: What could possibly go wrong? CNN hosted a panel discussion with a handful of police officers and put the call out on Twitter for questions from members of the public. Here’s a sample:
Here are some examples from the past few days that could explain why #askacop went so poorly: Texas cop Tases, tackles 76-year-old man who did nothing wrong, Video shows NYPD officer beating a 12-year-old black kid, Indiana cop sells ‘breathe easy’ T-shirts in response to Eric Garner protests, Beleaguered NYPD tweets misguided reference to ‘A Few Good Men’, Cleveland police blast Browns’ Andrew Hawkins for his Tamir Rice shirt, Dave Chappelle recounts being choked by police in New Orleans.
Leaked report details how the CIA takes out its enemies. Political Assassinations For Dummies.
How British spies compromised Belgium’s largest telecom company. This intrusion by GCHQ on Belgacom is the first documented case of one EU country conducting a cyber attack on another. Presumably, the goal of the attack was to stop the release of a Belgian film where a pair of saison-drunk bros travel to the England as part of a top-secret plot to gently tussle David Cameron’s hair.
GamerGate: Still happening. Still totally not about harassment.
And now some some stories that’ll make you be like “Me IRL”:
Cuba, prepare yourself for the American fast-food invasion, Pumpkin bongs and 11 other foods you can smoke weed out of, This slow-mo footage of food dancing is all about that bass, Megatron hates selfies, is disappointed in your generation.
Are you a North Korean hacker reading this email on some movie studio exec’s computer? If so, Epic Meal Time is a thing that exists. Spread the world to everyone you know and your oppressive ruling regime will fall within the hour. Also, subscribe to the @DotPolitics weekly newsletter by clicking here.
Illustration by J. Longo