The Digestif: November 27th
Media fails, metaverse exploration, and protests in China.
Week 2 of the Digestif! Here we go:
AP fired a reporter after a dangerous blunder. Slack messages reveal a chaotic process - by Maxi Tani (Semfor): international journalism has a pretty shaky core, and scapegoating one reporter can’t hide the greater systemic problems here. Pretty horrifying if you care about trust in the press.
‘What Does The Sudden Closure Of Raf Simons Mean For Fashion Now?’ by Sarah Mower (Vogue). The end of an era with the closure of Raf Simons; not simply one of the most important menswear labels in modern fashion, but the first to show menswear wasn’t just the side dish, but could be the main. However sad this is, his work at Prada has been fantastic - making it one of the fastest growing brands among Gen Z - so it’s hardly the last we’ll see of his brilliance.
‘Vaccinate the turkeys (and the chickens)’ by Kenny Torrella (Vox). The pointless killing of millions of animals for regulatory failure is a moral disaster.
‘Brokenism’ by Alana Newhouse (Tablet). As good as you’ve probably heard.
‘How VCs can avoid being tricked by obvious frauds’ by Rohit Krishnan (Noahpinion). Rohit is a great thinker (I spoke with him in my Metaverse piece), and this is a good example of that. Find more by him at Strange Loop Cannon.
‘Orbán: Hungary will approve Sweden, Finland NATO bids next year’ (Politico). Pleasant, if surprising news. Let’s hope he sticks to it.
‘Chinese Companies Are Hiding Behind Mining Cooperatives’ by Manuel Seoane (El Delario). The most underreported story of the past 5 or so years is the human and environmental cost of Chinese expansion in South America and Africa.
‘Miami nightclubs mourn absence of high-rolling crypto entrepreneurs’ by Madison Darbyshire (Financial Times). Lol.
A related tweet on my thoughts on the current crypto market:
Cars: BMW got their style back with the new 3.0 CSL; Praga unveiled their race-car for the road; Mercedes said “fuck our customers” and put a $100 monthly paywall on unlocking the power of their electric cars; and the Abarth took the fantastic 500e (one of my favourite cars on the market) and made it uglier, whereas Kahn made it look properly mean.
Entertainment: The great cult action director Albert Pyun passed away; Ben Affleck and Matt Damon announce a new film studio, with a unique profit-sharing model; a trailer for the next ‘Willem Dafoe goes slowly insane’ movie came out; and the press for Avatar: Way of the Water continued, which has changed my attitude from “what a terrible idea” to “I’m pumped”.
Technology: Twitter will (finally!) encrypt DMs; Meta announced a negotiation AI that rivals humans; and Alexa - one of the few technologically successful voice assistants - is a finance disaster, costing The House of Jeff $10B this year. Also, space:
One article is on continued hold, and I got a kill-fee for another, but still ended up with two articles out this week!
Most Important Story You Missed
You probably saw clips of these ‘zero COVID’ protests, but their significance is understated. Consider the following two datapoints:
Protests are allowed in China - particularly against unions and businesses - as a way to relieve social tension, and help reinforce the CCP as the universal solution to all problems.
The Chinese internet is segmented by region. For example, you can post a video of a protest in your neighbourhood on WeChat, but it won’t appear on any feeds or searches outside of your neighbourhood.
These protests have broken both. They’re squarely critical of the CCP and Xi Jinping, and videos of them are everywhere, coming from within Chinese internet. It’s some form of breaking point, but it makes me more nervous than optimistic. Xi is driven by status and ‘saving face’, and as the Chinese economy has declined, the sensitivity to slights has driven up. A thriving China wouldn’t viciously crack down on citizens and invade Taiwan - the risk to the status quo was too high - but times like this may provide license for a show of force. This is a immensely dangerous moment.
“McDonalds doesn't want their Happy Meal to appear next to fist-fucking.”
Professor Susanna Paasonen on the prudish nature of online advertisers; in an upcoming article of mine.
App: AltSnap (Windows). Hold alt and left-click anywhere on a window to move it; alt and right-click anywhere to resize it. I’ve been using it for years and it honestly should be a default part of Windows.
Film: ‘Official Competition’. A really fun dramedy about three competing, contradicting artistic styles. Underrated.
Music: ‘Preachers Daughter’ by Ethel Cain. The singer-songwriter album of the year. The stand-out tracks are The Family and American Teenager, but every track is great.
Podcast: ‘Casablanca’s Charaf Tajer on Designing for Impossible Possibilities’ by The BoF Podcast. Inspiring, interesting story behind one of the fastest growing designer brands.
TV: ‘Andor’. Considering that Rogue One is the worst Star Wars movie, I wasn’t optimistic, but it’s a surprisingly fun heist show. Only 5 episodes in, and it’s not amazing!!! as so many on Twitter say, but it’s good.
Video: ‘Best of the Worst: Cyborg and Arcade (Albert Pyun Double Feature)’. The best channel on YouTube puts out a really touching celebration of Pyun. RIP.
That’s all folks! There’ll only be one article of mine out next week, but it’ll be a good one! Enjoy your week!