Best Of The Web
“In our age of digital connection and constantly online life, you might say that two political regimes are evolving, one Chinese and one Western, which offer two kinds of relationships between the privacy of ordinary citizens and the newfound power of central authorities to track, to supervise, to expose and to surveil.
The first regime is one in which your every transaction can be fed into a system of ratings and rankings, in which what seem like merely personal mistakes can cost you your livelihood and reputation, even your ability to hail a car or book a reservation. It’s one in which notionally private companies cooperate with the government to track dissidents and radicals and censor speech; one in which your fellow citizens act as enforcers of the ideological consensus, making an example of you for comments you intended only for your friends; one in which even the wealth and power of your overlords can’t buy privacy.
The second regime is the one they’re building in the People’s Republic of China.
This is a dark joke; it isn’t meant to minimize the horrors of China’s march into information-age totalitarianism. Beginning with its successful taming of the internet, Beijing has treated the darkest episodes of “Black Mirror” as a how-to guide for social control and subjugation — with “social credit” scores and official public shamings for people whose daily conduct disappoints, official Communist Party apps that you’d better use if you know what’s good for you, surveillance technologies and facial recognition software as boots on the back of nonapproved religions, and compulsory internet as part of the brutal, tech-enabled replay of the Cultural Revolution imposed in China’s Muslim west.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"As Europe moved toward war in the summer of 1914, two battleships were being built for the Ottoman Empire in British shipyards. Worried about signs of an Ottoman-German alliance, Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, seized the..."
"For most of this year, Joe Biden has strutted across stages in New Hampshire and Iowa, and at swanky fundraisers in New York and California, as if he were already the Democratic nominee. Questions about attacks from his rivals were, more often..."
"A vast city that may have had as many as 1,500 to 3,000 inhabitants in its heyday 9,000 years ago was part of a sprawling Neolithic network of barter. Fresh findings in the mega site at Motza, the Jerusalem foothills, include an obsidian blade..."
"Befitting Stranger Things’ loving ode to the ’80s, the golden age of merchandising, there sure is a lot of Stranger Things crap for sale. Need a copy of Hopper’s Magnum P.I.–inspired Hawaiian shirt for your own date night? Provided you’re not...."
"Big Government lobbyists and entrenched bureaucrats are predictably hysterical about a common-sense congressional push to improve transparency and accountability about wasteful taxpayer-funded monkey experiments. They’re worried that once..."
"The economic summit in Bahrain organized by the Trump administration last month was the latest example of how Israel’s hi-tech industry created new diplomatic opportunities for a country with no apparent natural resources. While Israel had no..."
"The early ‘90s, famously, saw the “End of History,” as it was dubbed by the right-Hegelian political theorist Francis Fukuyama. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus the ostensibly final victory of capitalism and liberal democracy..."
"“Almost all books of aphorisms, which have ever acquired a reputation, have retained it,” John Stuart Mill wrote in 1837, aphoristically—that is to say, with a neat if slightly dubious finality. (“How wofully the reverse is the case with systems..."
"While we can easily misjudge, misunderstand, or even avoid a pregnant individual’s experience of miscarriage, we can also forget that the loss of a pregnancy may impact a wide range of other people too. There’s usually one other person..."
"I have never tried psychedelic drugs, but I imagine the experience is a lot like drinking a Starbucks Frappuccino. Strange sensations, unnatural colors, increased heart rate, heightened emotions, paranoia: It’s all there in that plastic cup..."
"Fifty years ago this week, more than a million Americans drove, flew and even boated to Florida’s Cape Canaveral to witness the launch of Apollo 11, which would culminate four days later on July 20, 1969, with America’s victory over the Soviet..."
"The incidents now pass without much notice, a steady, familiar drumbeat of violence and hate targeting visibly Jewish people in New York City. Early on the morning of June 15, a Saturday, two men in a white Infiniti drove around Borough Park..."