Required reading

When social media influencers showed up at the Azimuth music festival in the middle of the Saudi desert, they were promised a festival of musical and gastronomic excess, all subsidized by a branch of the Saudi government.

What attendees didn’t know was that the expensive music festival was secretly organized by youth media company Vice, as part of the media company’s ongoing effort to raise money in the state of Middle East despite the country’s poor human rights record.

Just three years after Vice publicly announced it was suspending all work in Saudi Arabia due to fallout from the state-ordered killing of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, Vice insiders told the Guardian the company is looking again aggressively for business opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

“For years, Vice employees have raised concerns about the company’s involvement with Saudi Arabia – and we’ve been palmed off with empty statements and pathetic apologies,” said a Vice employee. .

If you pay attention to both the Hollywood trades and the crypto press, and smoke enough weed, you can begin to spot the outlines of an expanding, interconnected, knowledge-based web3 financial and cultural complex. celebrities: did you know, for example, that Jimmy Fallon is represented by CAA, which is an investor in the OpenSea NFT market, and which recently signed an agreement to represent the NFT collector 0xb1, which owns NFTs of Bored Ape Yacht Club and women’s world? Did you know that another CAA client, Ashton Kutcher1, is also an investor in OpenSea, through his company Sound Ventures? Or that Kutcher will star in a Netflix romantic comedy called Your place or mine with Reese Witherspoon, the most important owner of World of Women NFTs, who also happens to be married to a CAA agent? Or that the people behind World of Women and Bored Ape Yacht Club are both represented by Kutcher’s partner in Sound Ventures, music director Guy Oseary? Did you know Oseary’s other major venture these days is pearpop, a platform to connect Tiktok influencers with celebrities for collaborations – a platform used by none other than Paris Hilton?

During the interview, I asked [President Whipps] to describe to me someone who could benefit from being a digital Palauan, and he explained that residents of states like Hawaii cannot buy and sell Hawaiian cryptocurrencies with their Hawaiian ID (note : they could, but I understand that’s a pain in the ass because of how restricted trading is.) With a digital ID the idea is that they could participate in those markets more freely and essentially transcend their location and their nationality… with an assist from Palau. And yes, there will be background checks similar to the ones banks use to make sure they’re not doing business with money launderers (all of whom seem to still have bank accounts, but OK.)

For individuals, this is a nice service to have; for Palau, it’s the first step in a bigger bid to become a place with the kind of regulations that entice cryptocurrency companies to register there, thereby earning the country money through fees, licenses, taxes and so on.

Moore’s descent into the far right was gradual and initially unintentional. When she heard about a post-election MAGA rally planned for November 2020 at DC’s Freedom Plaza near the Capitol, she immediately decided to attend. “I’ve always made time for something like that. I grew up here, so I think it twists your brain in a weird way,” she explained to me in November 2021, at a DC bar. She had just returned straight from a spinning class, just like she had before going to the rally a year before.

As she spoke quickly and intensely, she was warm and inviting, despite this being our first face-to-face meeting. I imagined how that—along with her ruthless persistence, sense of purpose, and status as a white woman in a space that explicitly values ​​them but lacks them—helped her to ingratiate herself with the far-right.

Moore, who is 33, did not initially build a cover. But she realized that if she didn’t wear a mask, held her tongue and acted friendly, protesters simply assumed she was on their side, warming up and speaking freely with little prompting. After the November 2020 rally and several other events, Moore realized she was noticing things — sightings that kept her from being as surprised as many people were by the storming. of the Capitol on January 6.

“December was incredibly disturbing,” she explained, describing a threatening tone at the next big MAGA rally in DC following Biden’s win. “It was tense all day and people were telling me how the Proud Boys had protected and saved them at the last rally, and how the police can’t do anything” – all of which, she says, means committing violence against the counter-protesters. “I remember this guy walking by me and saying, ‘When it’s dark…'”

  • Oscar Schwartz considers Ted Talk and what it really is for The Drift, although I think his suggestion that Ted Talks never changed anything is not true, as many people have been “discovered” or at least became very popular after their prominent talks, including Ashraf Ghani in 2005, who would become Afghanistan’s president until the withdrawal of US forces last year:

In ancient Athens, public speaking was understood primarily as a means of persuasion; learning to convince others was the duty of a democratic citizen. For Confucius, refined speech was the embodiment of refined ethics. In 19th century America, popular lectures given in East Coast high schools were seen as a form of moral upliftment, raising the nation’s cultural standards and satisfying the middle class’s hungry appetite for useful knowledge. The main function of TED, on the other hand, is to predict the future.

The inaugural TED Conference, held in Monterey, California, in 1984, was organized by Richard Saul Wurman, an architect, and Harry Marks, a television program designer, who shared the belief that the distinct domains of technology (T), entertainment (E), and design (D) were converging, and that their convergence would change the world. Elevated futurism was nothing new to the Silicon Valley cohort who attended the first TED talk. Since the dawn of digital computing, the engineers and mathematicians building the new machines had talked about how their inventions would spark revolutions, disrupt institutions, disrupt industries, and transform what it means to be human. John von Neumann, sometimes considered the father of modern computing, is said to have confessed to his wife: “What we are creating now is a monster whose influence will change history, provided history remains “. The world was about to enter a new historical epoch. The change would be exponential and irrevocable in all spheres of human activity. Wurman and Marks packaged this futuristic fantasy and sold it as a live event.

  • Billionaire Leon Cooperman talks to Eli Saslow about Washington Post about how much money is enough. I can’t say that Cooperman doesn’t seem oblivious here (the super rich always like to play the victim, woe to me, it’s not enough to be rich, you have to worship them):

The past year has been the best time in history to be one of 745 American billionaires, whose cumulative wealth has increased by around 70% since the start of the pandemic, even as tens of millions of workers low-wage workers have lost their jobs or their homes. Together, those 745 billionaires are now worth more than the poorest 60% of U.S. households combined, and every day Cooperman could see that gap widen on its balance sheet — up an average of $4,788 per minute on the stock market, 1.9 million a day and $700 million in total in 2021. As a record amount of wealth continued to shift to a tiny fraction of people at the top of the economy, Cooperman could also sense something else changing. .

“Billionaires shouldn’t even exist in America,” read a memo he received after going on TV recommending stock picks.

“One day we will chase you all with pitchforks,” another message read.

“Wake up, moron. YOU and your insatiable greed are the root of our greatest societal problems.

He answered most personal emails, logged the occasional death threat, and wrote letters to politicians such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) every time they criticized the billionaires in their speeches, because he couldn’t understand: what exactly had he done wrong? What rule had he broken? He was born to poor immigrant parents on the losing side of a capitalist economy. He had attended public schools, had gone into debt to become the first in his family to attend college, worked 80 hours a week, made wise decisions, benefited from a little luck, amassed a fortune for himself and for its customers and paid hundreds of millions in taxes to the government. He had a 57-year-old wife, two successful children and three grandchildren who helped him decide how to give most of his money to a long list of charities. “My life is the story of the American dream,” he said as he accepted an award at a charity gala, and he’d always imagined himself as the rags-to-riches hero, only to now find himself in the role of the greedy villain in a tale of economic inequality gone mad.

Required reading is published every Thursday afternoon and includes a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts or photo essays worth a second look.

About Ethel Nester

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