The Europeans are now worried about allowing any personal information near China, whether Huawei is involved or not. It’s always amusing hearing western governments complain about Chinese mass surveillance given the constant visual surveillance they place their own citizens under (and wait til the Europeans hear about how Australia forces companies to spy on people).
I’m not sure whether this belongs in a section on digital dystopia because I have no idea who this person is, but recently the multiplayer online game Fortnite suspended all of its games and forced every single person logged in to watch a ten-minute virtual performance by one “Marshmello”, with which players could interact, including with specially purchased virtual paraphernalia. The kids of today, huh? Except, it generated $30 million in revenue.
“Interactive music” is now the next big thing, or at least attracting the hype of the next big thing. Also, if you think the music The Kids listen to these days is no good, finally some evidence for you (except, the Eagles still suck, as do all bands before the Sex Pistols).
ADVENTURES IN ENERGY
Still on the continent, the Europeans are arguing about piping more gas from Russia, with the Americans egging them on. Or were arguing — they managed to nut out a compromise, which will infuriate the Trump Administration (it wants to flog LNG to Europe instead).
In Japan, a robot is going in to see if it can pick up melted fuel within the Fukushima nuclear plant, commencing what will be a 40-year clean-up. Previous robots sent in had their innards fried by the intense radiation. The plant is still leaking radiation, by the way.
And our government isn’t the only one paralysed on energy policy: Emmanuel Macron is unlikely to have an energy plan until the 2020s.
IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD
Last month the ABC ran a series on migraines and Australians’ experiences of them; here’s an American’s journey through migraines — and the appalling US health care system’s treatment of them. The best medical journalism combines the connection afforded by personal experience with hard data and a sense of discovery.
For those who missed it a decade ago, here’s one of the great examples of medical journalism: Atul Gawande’s legendary “The Itch” (warning: graphic and deeply unsettling). There’s more information on mirror therapy here, and other kinds of visual therapies might be on the way.
MORE GREAT MOMENTS IN POLICY
America’s mayors still think it’s a good idea to offer tax breaks to businesses to lure investment — but only if they do it, not when other mayors do it. The schadenfreude is strong in this one… but resist it: meet anarcho-capitalists –and find out what happened when they tried to actually live out their libertarian fantasy in Mexico. (Spoiler: it got ugly, fast).
If you think Australians had a problem with foreign investment in real estate, try America, where Russian’s biggest crooks pumped billions into US property (though it’s bit rich to say the Russians introduced kleptocracy to the US, given the entire country is founded on dispossession surely?) And how US policy keeps Iran’s murderous theocrats in charge (while Trump wants Iraqis to go without electricity to help enforce his sanctions).
THE SIDE VIEW REVIEW OF ARTS AND PHILOSOPHY AND GENITALS
What’s normal for a vulva? The concept of “ordinary” in female genitalia, and its consequences for women seeking surgery to “improve” their labia. From crotches to, um, clocks — Jenny Sinclair watches The Clock in Melbourne — and if that artwork leaves you pining for some classic Hollywood, have a Daniel Fuchs essay (or enjoy this great review of his essay collection).
How do you explain what’s real to a small child? It’s a lot harder than you think to do it in a way that will withstand philosophical scrutiny.
Nathanael Stein is the philosopher with the curious 4-year old. And after centuries of debate within continental philosophy, there’s now agreement between the Austrians and the French over another key question, the existence of Hell: c’est les autres (or should that be ist anderen Menschen?)
STAT OF THE WEEK
Australian workers, now facing their seventh year of stagnant wages, have been told by the government and the Reserve Bank that if they wait a little longer, falling unemployment will improve wages growth. That’s fine in theory but how’s it play out in practice?
Let’s look across the Tasman, where the Kiwis have seen their unemployment rate fall from well above 5% — our current rate — to just above 4%. So, presumably that put a rocket, or at least a firecracker, under wages growth? Well, a sparkler, maybe… Would you believe a birthday cake candle?