Seeking a middle ground, liberal and conservative politicians alike propose split-the-difference "solutions" to our problems which seem plausible and pragmatic but do not, of course, represent solutions at all. What's missing? The dimension of reality,
During the day my parents tried to carry on as they always had. I was impressed by the aplomb with which they behaved, "for the child's sake." Their ability to deceive, to be utterly different by day and by night, carved itself into my soul.
As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.
Several weeks ago, I met up with a friend in New York who suggested we grab a bite at a Scottish bar in the West Village. He had booked the table through something called Seated, a restaurant app that pays users who make reservations on the platform. We ordered two cocktails each, along with some food. And in exchange for the hard labor of drinking whiskey, the app awarded us $30 in credits redeemable at a variety of retailers.
I am never offended by freebies. But this arrangement seemed almost obscenely generous. To throw cash at people every time they walk into a restaurant does not sound like a business. It sounds like a plot to lose money as fast as possible—or to provide New Yorkers, who are constantly dining out, with a kind of minimum basic income.
Our unpredictable and overburdened schedules are taking a dire toll on American society.
Just under a century ago, the Soviet Union embarked on one of the strangest attempts to reshape the common calendar that has ever been undertaken. As Joseph Stalin raced to turn an agricultural backwater into an industrialized nation, his government downsized the week from seven to five days. Saturday and Sunday were abolished.
In place of the weekend, a new system of respite was introduced in 1929. The government divided workers into five groups, and assigned each to a different day off. On any given day, four-fifths of the proletariat would show up to their factories and work while the other fifth rested. Each laborer received a colored slip of paper—yellow, orange, red, purple, or green—that signified his or her group. The staggered schedule was known as nepreryvka, or the “continuous workweek,” since production never stopped.
The U.S. financial system is powerful, but not so powerful that it can swiftly stop a military assault in its tracks.
Turkey had to have seen this coming.
Granted, it didn’t feature in the phone call last week where Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan informed his American counterpart of his intent to launch an offensive against the Kurds in northeastern Syria, resulting in the retreat of U.S. forces from the region; the advance of Syrian, Russian, and Turkish forces into the void; the flight of tens of thousands of civilians; and the stirrings of a reborn Islamic State.
But the morning after the call, the threat to “totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey” cropped up like clockwork on Twitter, Donald Trump’s preferred venue for such taunts. It was a predictable response from a president who, over the past three years, has repeatedly demonstrated resistance to using force and skepticism about any diplomatic endeavor that doesn’t involve his personal negotiating skills. In economic sanctions he has found a sweet spot between the slog of diplomacy and the steep price of military action. They satisfy his hankering for economic leverage that can be ratcheted up and down as he pursues deals. In the case of Turkey’s incursion into Syria, however, the hard limits of that happy medium are currently on vivid display.
Humiliating his own Cabinet secretaries was bad. Putting faithful American allies in harm’s way is far worse.
President Donald Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds stung deeply. “They trusted us and we broke that trust. It’s a stain on the American conscience.” These, according to The New York Times, are the searing words of an Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria.
History’s best marathoner has broken a mythical time barrier. But it doesn’t count as a world record.
Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET on October 13, 2019.
Early yesterday morning, in a misty park in Vienna, Eliud Kipchoge ran a marathon in less than two hours. His time, 1:59:40, is the fastest any runner has ever covered 26.2 miles. Kipchoge carved two minutes off his own world record and became the first marathoner to break the two-hour barrier.
At the event, branded the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, the performance was heralded as a radical, historic leap, his “Neil Armstrong moment,” as one announcer said. Indeed, Kipchoge himself—a soft-spoken 34-year-old Kenyan who dulls the pain of distance running by smiling mid-competition—has repeatedly equated his feat to reaching the moon. That comparison is audacious on the scale of human achievement, but in the galaxy of running, it might actually be an understatement. Running’s original moon landing, the sub-four-minute mile, took place back in 1954. Yesterday, Kipchoge launched running to Mars.
What the Amazon founder and CEO wants for his empire and himself, and what that means for the rest of us.
Where in the pantheon of American commercial titans does Jeffrey Bezos belong? Andrew Carnegie’s hearths forged the steel that became the skeleton of the railroad and the city. John D. Rockefeller refined 90 percent of American oil, which supplied the pre-electric nation with light. Bill Gates created a program that was considered a prerequisite for turning on a computer.
At 55, Bezos has never dominated a major market as thoroughly as any of these forebears, and while he is presently the richest man on the planet, he has less wealth than Gates did at his zenith. Yet Rockefeller largely contented himself with oil wells, pump stations, and railcars; Gates’s fortune depended on an operating system. The scope of the empire the founder and CEO of Amazon has built is wider. Indeed, it is without precedent in the long history of American capitalism.
People want to cook and eat together. Modern life has other plans.
Right now, a box of food from a meal-kit company is probably moldering in my apartment building’s mail room. I haven’t been down there in a few days, so maybe there isn’t one at this very moment. But more than two years of living in this building has taught me there’s basically always at least one box, forgotten and slightly stinky. When I visit friends, I often walk past a similar scene next to their elevators: cartons from Blue Apron or HelloFresh, waiting to find out if they’ll ever become the dinners they were meant to be.
Forgetting you mail-ordered a bespoke set of ingredients for a selection of restaurant-style recipes is a luxurious predicament to be in, but the frequency with which those meal kits seem to be abandoned points to the very same problem they were invented to fix: Consumer surveys have found that most people who buy meal kits do so in hopes of saving time. As it turns out, it takes time to unpack, cook, and clean up after a meal-kit dinner, too.
In Home Work, the legendary actor comes to terms with an acting career she couldn’t always control.
In 1971 the actor Julie Andrews and her husband, the director Blake Edwards, went to a party hosted by a Hollywood agent in Los Angeles. “I can’t remember why we chose to attend,” Andrews writes in her new memoir, Home Work. “We were so seldom partygoers.” When the couple arrived, they noticed guests doing cocaine in the living room; by the time everyone had eaten dinner, lines were being passed around for dessert. Andrews declined. “The hosts began pushing me hard, curious to see how ‘Mary Poppins’ would react,” she writes. “The peer pressure was intense.” Finally, Edwards intervened. “She doesn’t need any of that stuff,” he told everyone. “She’s high enough on life as it is.”
The scene is at once totally charming, enormously on-brand for Andrews—who has the purest heart, it would seem, in show business—and quietly telling. Mary Poppins, the acerbic, reality-bending, devastatingly self-assured nanny who sweeps down from the sky on an anthropomorphized umbrella in Walt Disney’s groundbreaking 1964 movie, was the first heady obsession of countless little girls, myself included. But for Andrews, Poppins was far more complicated. Both that particular role and one that followed, The Sound of Music’s Maria von Trapp, became distinct amalgamations of actor and character; it was hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. If Andrews does cocaine, Mary does it too. (Which would bring a bold new meaning to “Jolly Holiday.”) Before she turned 30, Andrews had played two of the most canonical female characters in film—a kind of reputational alchemy that is hard for an actor to reverse.
It goes beyond the NBA—U.S. companies doing business in China are hamstrung by the country’s whims.
From the late 19th century up to World War II, Americans were seized with the idea of transforming China into a Christian, capitalist America on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
The word “plastic” pops up again and again in American statements about China from that era. China is “plastic” in the hands of “strong and capable Westerners,” announced President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. “China has become plastic after centuries of rigid conventionalism,”declared Selskar M. Gunn, a vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation, in May 1933.
But from the beginning, Americans were also afraid that China — or the Chinese — would change them, too. In 1870, following the Civil War, Congress limited naturalization to whites and blacks. Later, the United States tried to inoculate itself against the influence of the Chinese by banning many of them from America’s shores. Starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the U.S. Congress passed a series of racist immigration laws which would not be significantly modified until World War II, when China was an ally in America’s fight against Japan. It looked bad for the US to deny Chinese the right to travel in America while Chinese under American command were dying on Asian battlefields.
China is supposed to be savvy. So why is it throwing a fit about a tweet, an app, and a gamer in a mask in the absence of any real threat?
The Hong Kong protests have entered a fifth month, a longevity that might have been hard to predict at the outset. The protests were sparked in reaction to an extradition bill that protesters feared would mean turning over dissidents to mainland China, but have turned into a broad movement over fears that liberties under the “one country, two systems” promised when the United Kingdom turned over its colony to China would be trampled.
Inevitably, this brought the Chinese government at into conflict with Western companies that do business with China. Recently, the Chinese government has started flexing its muscles, going so far as to pressure Western companies to censor their own employees. Many companies, even big ones, are already caving, including Apple, the NBA, and the gaming company Blizzard Entertainment.