Ah, the internet! Where good intentions—and liberal democracy—go to die a tortuous death.
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You heard it here first, folks: the internet is a real mixed bag. Take, for example, the latest installment in our Dispatched series. R&K contributor Matthew Bremner traveled to Peru to investigate vigilante groups that are mobilizing through Facebook in order to track criminals and publicize their extrajudicial punishments. But the social network encourages rapid responses and online showboating, and innocent people have been hurt. It’s a fascinating look at how people fighting injustice can end up looking a lot like criminals, especially when you bring the internet into it.
You know what, that’s depressing, so let’s just move along from the internet and take to the streets, shall we? How do you fight the robber barons of the digital age? “Organization and agitation.” How do you resist propaganda from the White House and the Kremlin? “Nothing counters cold propaganda quite as effectively as a mass of warm bodies in the street.” How do you stand up to a strongman? “These young protesters are … using wit and creativity to stand against a powerful enemy, fully aware of the history of violence they are up against.” I’m seeing a trend here!
This week in food: the story behind one of the greatest agricultural crimes in all of history is a fantastic, fantastic story. The world according to bottom pot. Super rich private equity firms are getting insanely rich off Twinkies; I do not recommend reading this story while holding anything sharp. Is there anything more satisfying than an eviscerating restaurant review?
And in non-food news, it’s time for Foreign Policy’s annual feature on 100 Global Thinkers, an always excellent guide to 89 people shaping our world in unexpected ways and 11 people needed to round out the list. (<– I make this joke every year. Hi, Ben!)
Did 2016 really screw up the branding for this annual “Pessimist’s Guide” to the upcoming year? Because this reads as pretty middle of the road to me, tbh. Speaking of pessimists, remember when I optimistically said there was an election in 2016 that didn’t go entirely wrong? Why would I say that? Lesson learned.
And now for some miscellany: North America’s 1,000-year-old lost city sits beneath St. Louis. The world’s largest reindeer herd is vanishing. What you can learn about China while searching for the world’s rarest bird. Let’s drink a negroni while the world burns! Let’s make date-stuffed cookies. Let’s read ancient science fiction. What’s your nationality determined by booze? I know I said no more internet, but I lied: here’s the year in memes.
I’ll end this week on an entirely serious note. The unimaginable violence in Aleppo came to a head this week, where “the savagery has become primordial” and a “new stage of misery” is about to begin. The photos and messages here are difficult to look at, which is exactly why it’s worth doing so.
That’s it for this week! Send me stories you’d like to see here @caraparks.