Several top marketers were openly critical of the tech giant, a day after The New York Times published an investigation detailing how Facebook’s top executives — Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg — made the company’s growth a priority while ignoring and hiding warning signs over how its data and power were being exploited to disrupt elections and spread toxic content. The article also spotlighted a lobbying campaign overseen by Ms. Sandberg, who also oversees advertising, that sought to shift public anger to Facebook’s critics and rival tech firms.
The revelations may be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer for the Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s biggest ad companies. “Now we know Facebook will do whatever it takes to make money. They have absolutely no morals.”
I completely agree that Facebook has no morals, and I have believed pretty firmly for a while now that their entire business model is a scam. They tell everyone—users, publishers, and advertisers—that Facebook will be great for them, but because they are a closed silo, the only data anyone can get to support those claims is what Facebook gives them.
Facebook is bad for business, bad for the web, and bad for society.
That said, I think I agree with what Zeynep Tukekci said in a recent conversation with Isaac Chotiner. It doesn’t make sense to really go after Facebook as a company. Break them up or constrain they directly, and some other company will crop up to take their place.
Instead, we should go after the practices that have allowed Facebook to accumulate its enormous pile of user data and make it impossible for them to keep doing that or for anyone else to do it.
Ridley Scott is determined to finish the story he started with 2012’s Prometheus, despite the majority of Alien fans not really giving a shit about the cold-circuited travails of Michael Fassenbender’s android David. Last year’s Alien: Covenant managed to sneak in a bit more of the deep-space horror for which the franchise is known, but it distracted from the new characters by hinging the story on David’s genocide on Paradise, a planet home to a bunch of beefy aliens called Engineers that were introduced in Prometheus.
Scott’s planned sequel to Covenant, Alien: Awakening, is currently in limbo due to a marked lack of interest on behalf of fans. Should it get greenlit, however, it’s apparently ready to go. Empire (via HN Entertainment) reports in their Empire Classics Alien Special issue that screenwriter John Logan has already written the script, and it’s…all about David and Engineers. The one intriguing takeaway, however, is that David’s journey would take him to LV-426, the planet where Ripley and the rest of the Nostromo first met the Xenomorphs in Alien.
This summary confirms my opinion coming out of Prometheus and even moreso out of Alien: Covenant that Scott is taking this story in a terrible direction.
For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the original Alien trilogy is the notion that there are terrifying, unknown, and, well, alien things waiting out there in space. In our hubris, greed, and ignorance, we go blundering about out there and unwittingly stumble into the remains of some ancient, unknowable conflict, and we are devoured by them.
That story is a really interesting one, both in how the characters respond to the horrors they find waiting for them out in space as well as in what it has to say about the assumptions we have about our place in the universe. It also gives the original story a grand scale, a sense of a much larger world at which we can only get a passing glimpse.
With the two more recent films, though, Scott has scrubbed all of that horrifying grandeur away and turned the xenomorph into a human creation, albeit an indirect one. My guess is that he thinks the idea of Michael-playing-god is super-interesting and deep, but it’s really not.
There’s zero question whether Pelosi can get the support to be the leader of the House Democratic caucus. But that’s not the question. Because of the peculiarities of how the House elects leaders, the Democrats need close to unanimous support for their leader for her to become Speaker. That means that between ten and twenty members can block Pelosi from becoming Speaker, even if she has overwhelming support from within her caucus.
The other part of the equation – and I think this is the key to Pelosi’s strength – is that she doesn’t just have opponents from the right of the caucus, mainly midwestern moderates. She also has a lot of opponents on the left of the caucus, members who are more ideologically to the left, more anti-establishment. Can those factions agree on a new leader? That’s hard to figure since they’d each like a leader that looks and thinks like their faction of the party.
Which brings us to yet another point. Let’s say Pelosi goes down to defeat and you have an open leadership contest which is won by Rep. X. Do the losers in that contest, the supporters of Rep. Y, support Rep. X in the floor vote? They basically have to, almost all of them, or else that person can’t become Speaker. Which is to say that they have to do what the anti-Pelosi faction now refuses to do, vote on the floor of the House for the candidate they voted against in the leadership vote. This kind of parliamentary blackmail can easily spin out of control.
The best argument for a generational change in leadership is not the absolute age of the top three caucus leaders: Pelosi (78), Hoyer (79), Clyburn (78). It’s rather that they’ve held the collective reins for so long that they’ve kept a generation of potential leaders who aren’t terribly young themselves – men and women in their 40s and 50s – from gaining the kind of experience and track record they’ll need to take over in the future. That is part of the present problem. There’s no tested person really up for the challenge.
I continue to see a bunch of arguments amongst Democrats and progressives about whether or not Pelosi should stay, but I have yet to see any real, convincing plans put forward by opponents of Pelosi as Speaker for what comes next if she is ousted.
I suspect the biggest reason for all this is the ultimate betrayal: His followers failed him by not voting in great enough numbers to defy all the predictions and prove that he is the biggest winner in American political history. He may not be stable and he may not be a genius, but right now he knows that he looks like a loser. Perhaps he also instinctively realizes that may just break the spell some of his voters have been under since he was unexpectedly elected two years ago — the belief that even though he is personally a mess and his administration is nonstop chaos, he’s an unbeatable giant-slayer, an omnipotent superhero who transcends the normal definition of leadership. He lost, and his followers will never see him the same way again.
Once a con man is exposed, he blows town and moves on to the next mark. But Donald Trump is the president of the United States. He’s trapped and he has nowhere else to go.
He is and always been a con-artist, but he’s always had an out—his dad’s money, a pile of shoddy licensing deals, fame as a fake TV businessman, and shady Russian “investments.”
Now he’s at the end of the line, and he knows it.
For those members, old and new, who oppose Pelosi from the left, the #FiveWhiteGuys are offering a sucker's bet. The #FiveWhiteGuys are of the school that believes that the Democratic Party's needs are best served winning back all those disgruntled folks at diners in the Mahoning Valley, a theory fairly well demolished last Tuesday. It is very unlikely that a Green New Deal or Medicare For All is high on their list of priorities. The only argument that the #FiveWhiteGuys have that might resonate with their new progressive colleagues is that Pelosi is old and has been in Congress for a long time. Period. That's not enough to dispense with the party's most effective legislative leader since Lyndon Johnson.
So what the #FiveWhiteGuys are flirting with is not a brawl within the party, but a three-way brawl in which the progressive side and the #FiveWhiteGuys side both work to bring Pelosi down, which would set the stage for an absolute bloodbath between those two forces for the right to pick her successor. (And, strictly from a provincial standpoint here in the Commonwealth—God save it!—we are preparing to have Richard Neal as chairman of House Ways and Means and James McGovern as chairman of House Rules. If this attempted coup screws that up, Moulton's going to have some serious 'splainin' to do back home.)
There is no need for any of this. Pelosi stays as speaker. Steny Hoyer goes, replaced by, say, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Jim Clyburn does what he wants, and the new generation moves into position as deputy whips under him. Then the Democratic Party can get back to the primary business at hand: beating the Republicans sufficiently hard and sufficiently often until the Republican Party regains a semblance of sanity. It's a long, hard job.