(Image: Getty)

WORK, REST AND… ACTUALLY FORGET IT, JUST WORK

Low-paid jobs are increasingly dominated by monitoring and algorithms, inflicting a miserable combination of Taylorism, surveillance and abusive customers on workers. America’s professional class faces the same challenges as the working class did in the 1990s: immiseration, meaninglessness, alienation.

Meanwhile, despite a booming jobs market, American workers still struggle to find jobs that aren’t rubbish, and they’ve paid good money for the privilege of it. An interview with University of Melbourne social theorist Boris Frankel on UBI versus UBS, utopian thinking and practical policy.

ABROAD

Is the narrative of India sliding into fascism under Modi any more accurate than the one of India as a tech and capital tiger (the kind of narrative still being peddled by Australian commentators)?

Irf Yusuf on the myth of migrant failure to assimilate. When is a Muslim terrorist not a terrorist? When he’s from Saudi Arabia, you fool. Some Americans want a US naval base in Australia. Arab Israelis face a plague of gun violence, but the only authority that can address it, Israeli security forces, don’t want to and aren’t wanted by Arabs anyway.

And while the EU is willing to negotiate with Trump about protectionism, Germany and France are gearing up for a war over national champions. Meantime, Germany is considering ordering the flying of the national flag outside schools to save it from extremists.

ETHICS

THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS IS BUSINESS

Dollar stores now outnumber McDonalds and Starbucks combined in the United States, and they’re driving smalltown grocery stores to the wall. Around half of all phone calls in the US are now robocall spam. And men find yet another way to abuse and control women’s bodies: there’s a developing market in combining 3-D pornography with deepfakes involving female celebrities.

Elsewhere, as the Australian police state continues to push for a national facial recognition database, recognition technology is already deeply scary and rapidly getting more so. Poor governance and corruption are a key reason why many African countries are going backwards in infrastructure.

THE SIDE VIEW REVIEW OF ARTS, CRAFTS AND OVERLONG FRENCH FILMS

French sculptor Camille Claudel, left (Image Wikimedia)

A new museum of Camille Claudel explores a brilliance that fin de siècle Paris refused to accept (that said, for god’s sake never watch the three-hour 1988 film about her).

The philosophy of Vertigo is the subject of a new treatise from philosopher Robert Pippin. A new book details the horrific work of the Imperial Japanese Army’s Unit 731, which engaged in extensive human experimentation. And an exploration of American’s history of anti-monopoly policy is “punditry posing as history” but its heart is in the right place.

NOT THE PREFERRED NARRATIVE

Presented with accurate data, people will misremember the numbers to suit their prior beliefs. A new study of US immigration in the 1920s shows the closure of US borders to large-scale immigration saw wages fall in affected US areas.

Trump’s attorney-general says some communities won’t receive police protection unless they show more “respect and support” for police. Gee, wonder which “communities” he has in mind.

FINALLY

Summer viewing: both my favourite TV shows of the moment are hard to recommend because unless you’ve watched the preceding seasons of the adventures of Rami Malek, Christian Slater and BD Wong, the brilliant Mr Robot (now coming to a finish) will make no sense whatever. Likewise, the superb Watchmen requires perfect recall of the legendary 1980s comic it draws inspiration from.

Both would repay investment over the summer break. And having avoided Unbelievable for weeks, I can unhesitatingly recommend what is a grim but ultimately positive procedural and exploration of sexual assault and resilience of women, based on a real case.

Christmas markets: to some of us, just lots of Europeans standing around in the snow smoking and drinking disgusting warmed wine. To others, a winter wonderland.

Peter Fray

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