News 09.16.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 09.16.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.16.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.16.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It might have come to your attention that the United Kingdom is experiencing some difficulties over an issue called Brexit. The referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union was held in June 2016, and the Leave campaign produced an iconic image of a big red bus plastered with the message: ‘We send the EU £350 million each week – let’s fund our NHS instead.’ The masterful meme combined an impressive-sounding amount of cash with an appeal to the National Health Service, a nearly sacred British institution. It is plausible that this brilliant use of numbers tipped the balance in favour of Leave, which to most people’s surprise went on to win by the narrow margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

How reliable is the claim on the side of the bus? Like most numbers used in political discourse, the £350 million is not purely random or entirely fabricated – it does have some empirical basis. The agreed annual gross contribution to the EU in 2017 was £18.6 billion (£357 million a week), figures easily found in a publicly available spreadsheet. However, it is also true that a rebate of £5.6 billion is deducted from the British bill to the EU before payment. That brings the net figure to £13 billion. Further, around £4 billion comes back from the EU in terms of, for example, public sector science and agricultural funding and, presumably if it left the EU, the UK would need to pay for these itself.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 09.16.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.16.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Pitt made the movie with an old friend of his, the director James Gray, and both men will tell you that—though Ad Astra takes the form of an action film, complete with moon-set buggy chases and space-capsule shoot-outs—it’s really about the ideas and thoughts and fears that seize you as you roll into late middle age. Are we alone in this world? Can we ever be truly understood—or, for that matter, ever understand ourselves? “Almost all of it is trying to figure out a way to express our emotional interior,” Gray told me. “And almost none of it: ‘I gotta get the gun.’ It’s about trying to find a way to express something about loneliness. To get at something that we both understood and sometimes couldn’t even verbalize.”

In the film, Pitt’s McBride is isolated and almost pathologically repressed. McBride is also a celebrity—son of a famed explorer, recognized by everyone he meets. The parallels with Pitt himself were not lost on either man. “One of the things that I found always very beautiful,” Gray said, “is this idea that you could make a film about someone that outwardly you think has it all together but in fact is really battling inner demons. And I felt that Brad had always had that kind of—I don’t want to say anger, because anger has negative connotations—but danger in him, you know? And that kind of loneliness, which comes with the territory of who he is. And you use that.”

In the poolhouse, I asked Pitt if he found it difficult to play a character as alone as McBride is in Ad Astra.

“Well, it wasn’t for me,” Pitt said. He smiled. “I don’t know what that says about me.”

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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My senior year of high school, I had three Instagram accounts: a public one, a private one for friends and internet friends, and a private one that was just for me. By this point, I’d had an online audience for six years or so: first for the fashion blog I started when I was 11, and then for Rookie, the online magazine for teenage girls I’d started when I was 15 as an alternative to the getting-a-boyfriend-centric mainstream teen magazines that still existed in 2011.

Posts on my public account were mostly dispatches from my in-person life, which still consisted primarily of going to school every day in Oak Park, Illinois, and editing Rookie when I got home. The private account for friends was more of a place to voice frustrations and petty thoughts. And the private account that was just for me was like if my public one was more shameless: thirstier selfies, pictures with famous people at their homes and dinner parties, souvenirs from the world of wealth and prestige that I’d occasionally been granted access to through my internet fame. These photos felt too obviously desperate and social climb–y for my other accounts, but I wanted to know how it would feel to enhance them with filters, to watch the little blue bar advance as they uploaded, to see these moments framed — or blessed, really — by Instagram’s interface.

Read the rest of this article at: The Cut

News 09.16.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On June 29, 2018, Wanna Thompson, a freelance music journalist, was in an Uber with her boyfriend, headed into downtown Toronto to watch a podcast taping. Thompson had spent part of the day listening to new music by Nicki Minaj, including a typically braggadocious track called “Barbie Tingz.” (“I’m still fly, just bagged a white guy, / Ritchie-like guy and I still eat Thai.”) Thompson, who was twenty-six, could recite most of Minaj’s lyrics by heart. Minaj, like Thompson’s mother, is from Trinidad, and Thompson admired her as one of the few female rappers to become mega-famous. “I was a hundred per cent a fan,” she told me recently.

But, listening to the new stuff, Thompson worried that Minaj’s musical progression had stalled. From the car, she tweeted to her fourteen thousand followers, “You know how dope it would be if Nicki put out mature content? No silly shit. Just reflecting on past relationships, being a boss, hardships, etc. She’s touching 40 soon, a new direction is needed.” When Thompson got to the show, she put her phone away. By the time she checked it again, two hours later, her tweet had gone viral. “I had, like, hundreds of superfans just trashing me,” Thompson recalled. She was receiving so many direct messages—some telling her to kill herself, some accusing her of not being a “true fan”—that her phone kept crashing. And there was a message from Minaj’s official account. It read, “Eat a dick u hating ass hoe. Got the nerve to have a trini flag on ur page.” The message added, “Just say u jealous I’m rich, famous intelligent, pretty and go! But wait! Leave my balls! Tired of u sucking them.”

Thompson, convinced that the message was fake, showed it to her boyfriend. “I was stunned,” she said. She responded with some lines from Maya Angelou: “You may kill me with your hatefulness / But still, like air, I rise.” Minaj later denied sending the messages, but, on her own Twitter account, which had twenty-one million followers, she posted a list of songs that presumably proved her maturity, including “Pills N Potions.” Thompson set her Twitter account to private, but, at around 10 p.m., her phone began lighting up with angry text messages; someone had circumvented the lax security measures on her Web site and leaked her number. She changed all her passwords and frantically scrubbed her old tweets of any mention of her day job, in human resources, or her middle name, which she used at work.

At the time, Thompson was an unpaid intern for a hip-hop blog run by the marketing strategist Karen Civil. Within hours, the site manager e-mailed Thompson to tell her that her internship had been terminated. The company said that she had violated a nondisclosure agreement and that Minaj was one of Civil’s clients. (Thompson says that she didn’t know this and has denied violating the N.D.A. Civil told me that Thompson had seen her client list and that the site didn’t allow “hot takes.”) The next day, Thompson posted screenshots of the messages from Minaj’s account, but this only inflamed the rapper’s fans. One harasser lifted an Instagram photo of Thompson’s daughter, who was four years old, and photoshopped her face onto a gorilla’s body.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

When I was a sophomore in college, I took a creative-nonfiction workshop and met a girl who was everything I wasn’t. The point of the class was to learn to write your own story, but from the moment we met, I focused instead on helping her tell her own, first in notes after workshop, then later editing her Instagram captions and co-writing a book proposal she sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It seems obvious now, the way the story would end, but when I first met Caroline Calloway, all I saw was the beginning of something extraordinary.

Today Caroline is a 27-year-old Instagram influencer with almost 800,000 followers. A self-described “writer, art historian, and teacher,” she first became internet famous for diaristic captions chronicling her misadventures as an American undergrad at Cambridge University and was later known for the mysterious dissolution of her big book deal. After that, Caroline fell out of the public eye for a year but returned this past January on a tour to promote her “Creativity Workshop,” which was billed as a tutorial to “architect a life that feels really full and genuine and rich and beautiful” but ended up being compared to a one-woman Fyre Fest. She charged participants $165 a head and sold the tickets before booking venues, made promises she couldn’t deliver on (orchid crowns, “cooked” salad), and, true to form, posted the whole fiasco in real time. It seemed like the entire internet saw a pallet of 1,200 Mason jars delivered to her studio apartment and her pleas for ticket buyers in Philadelphia to just take the train to New York. She became a symbol of, as journalist Kayleigh Donaldson put it, “The Empty Mason Jar of the Influencer Economy,” which prompted Caroline to begin selling T-shirts that read “Stop Hate Following Me, Kayleigh.”

More recently, her Instagram has been filled with emotional posts about this very article, which she knew was coming. For almost a week she’s been posting constantly — how much she misses our friendship, how hurt and ashamed she is about whatever she thinks I’ll say here, how relieved she is that I broke the trust in our relationship so she can now write about me, too. It’s been surreal watching this unfold from my desk job in Los Angeles, but I’m not surprised she’s taken an essay of mine that didn’t exist yet and turned it into a narrative for herself. Caroline was the most confident girl I’d ever known. We were both 20-year-old NYU students when we met, Caroline arriving late to the first day of class, wearing a designer dress, not knowing who Lorrie Moore was but claiming she could recite the poems of Catullus in Latin. She turned in personal essays about heartbreak and boarding school, had silk eyelashes, and wore cashmere sweaters without a bra. She seemed like an adult, someone who had just gone ahead and constructed a life of independence. I, meanwhile, was a virgin with a meek ponytail, living in a railroad apartment that was sinking into the Gowanus Canal.

Read the rest of this article at: The Cut

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