Grouped into a couple of categories to match a very bleak year for the world, these are the best things I read in 2019.
Our Hellscape World
It feels weird to write it, but the best thing I read this year, was written last year. Adam Serwer coined the phrase that will go down in history books to mark either this Presidency or, much worse, the beginning of this moment in time in American History. The Cruelty is the Point: President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear
Jacobin interviews Elizabeth Anderson about her new book Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about it) she brings to light the hidden fact that most of our lives are governed by private dictatorships and the state is the only tiny sliver of democracy we have.
In a similar view The Outline looks at the way we are already ruled by “private governments,” and they suck. The “private governments” created by companies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook are as stupid and corrupt as conservatives think our real government is.
- A Decade of Liberal Delusion and Failure: It was the death of hope by a thousand tiny technocratic "nudges."
- Cars Are Death Machines. Self-Driving Tech Won’t Change That
- The Working Person's Guide to the Industry That Might Kill Your Company: How Private Equity strip mines the economy
- The Sinister Brutality of Shipping Container Architecture: It’s become a mark of hipster modernity everywhere from Amsterdam to Beijing. It’s also utterly ill-suited for human life.
- The Smartest Guys in the Clubhouse: How the McKinsey-fied Astros cheated their way to a championship—and became a parable of American success
Life in the Age of the Man Child
David Roth, as it has been said before, is one of the only people left with something interesting to say about the Trump moment. For instance, this absolute gem from The Man Who Was Upset in the The New Republic.
“The spectacle of expert analysts and thought leaders parsing the actions of a man with no expertise or capacity for analysis is the purest acid satire—but less because of how badly that expert analysis has failed than because of how sincerely misplaced it is. Trump represents an extraordinary challenge to political media precisely because there is nothing here to parse, no hidden meanings or tactical elisions or slow-rolled strategic campaign. Mainstream political media and Trump’s opponents in the Democratic Party conceive of politics as chess, a matter of feints and sacrifices and moves made so as to open the way for other moves. There’s an element of romance to this vision, which is a crucial tenet in a certain type of big-D Democratic thought and also something like the reason why anyone would need to employ a political analyst. But Trump is not playing chess. The man is playing Hungry Hungry Hippos. ”
The Elon Musk embarrassment tour continued this year with Vice roasting Tesla’s new launch. Cybertruck Is a Vehicle for the Adult Baby Class War: Who needs a bulletproof truck to go buy groceries? I'll tell you who.
Speaking on people who continue to embarrass themselves, and Vice roasting them: The Joe Rogan Experience Is a Safe Space to Launder Bad Ideas
- Michael Bryant Did A TEDx Talk About How Killing My Son Helped His Personal Growth
- The Joe Rogan Experience Is a Safe Space to Launder Bad IdeasDave Karpf On Calling Bret Stephens a 'Bedbug' and Free Speech
Canada’s broken politics
In an election year that saw Canadian’s re-elect a failed Prime Minister in the midst of a blackface scandal and escalating carbon emissions, it’s tough not to imagine what could have been. A Historic Contender for Canada’s Top Political Job.
- Opinion | The Downfall of Canada's Dreamy Boyfriend
- It's not an 'affordability crisis,' it's a class conflict
- No, Ottawa has not put forth a national housing strategy
Signs of Progress
In Thinking about climate means becoming human for the first time author Tom Whyman underscores the critique of how best to address catastrophic climate change by reminding us that we -- as human beings -- had nothing to do with creating this mess. 71% of carbon emissions since 1988 came from the same 100 corporations. Thinking about climate means becoming human for the first time