If you’re interested in the end of the world, you’re interested in New Zealand. If you’re interested in how our current cultural anxieties – climate catastrophe, decline of transatlantic political orders, resurgent nuclear terror – manifest themselves in apocalyptic visions, you’re interested in the place occupied by this distant archipelago of apparent peace and stability against the roiling unease of the day. If you’re interested in the end of the world, you would have been interested, soon after Donald Trump’s election as US president, to read a New York Times headline stating that Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, considered New Zealand to be “the Future”. Because if you are in any serious way concerned about the future, you’re also concerned about Thiel, a canary in capitalism’s coal mine who also happens to have profited lavishly from … [Read more...] about Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand
How squaw valley got its name
Here is a story about Le Loir, a river and region in France. And if there are any geography or French teachers reading this, please don't write a furious letter. No, I don't mean La Loire. La Loire is France's longest river. It runs from the coastal west to the mountainous south, and boasts a verdant landscape of fabulous chateaux and superb vineyards. This is about Le Loir, a much quieter chap, happy to meander for a mere 200 miles in rural obscurity through gentle, mid-west countryside. But given a choice between La and Le, I would go with Le. The village of La Fleche sits in a pleasant spot on the banks of Le Loir river Le Loir is actually a tributary of the Sarthe river. But the Loir Valley - just to keep things nice and confusing - runs 25 miles to the north, seemingly trickling along in its shadow. RELATED ARTICLES Previous 1 2 Next The world's most unusual borders revealed: Spain's 'mini... Never sit next to a crying baby on a flight again! Airline... From a cheeky … [Read more...] about Not to be confused with the busy Loire Valley to its south, the lesser-known Le Loir offers a gentler France
I bought a ticket to Cuba in 1998 when Fidel Castro promised a Christmas Day holiday after a 30-year ban. The holiday itself was a tinsel-free affair, but I heard live music and caught a glimpse of Castro in the main square at Santiago de Cuba as he toasted the 40th anniversary of his revolution. Since that first trip, I’ve danced, drunk, dived, fished, hiked, cycled and driven around Cuba. I’ve had my fortune told and portrait painted, ridden vintage American cars with no seats, picked up a spent bullet in the Bay of Pigs, and paraded through Havana on a giant fibre-glass stiletto. Cuba is utterly bonkers and I love it, as do those who come in search of an offbeat sunny break. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution but it’s not all austerity and rationed food. Since a change to private business rules almost a decade ago, this Caribbean island now offers holidaymakers swanky apartments in colonial villas, rural hideaways, beach getaways, bike … [Read more...] about The Cuban holiday revolution: It’s still got its crazy charm, but visitors are discovering a new side to the Caribbean island… luxury!
Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook. But even that wasn’t enough. In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies. Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps. He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place. A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who … [Read more...] about ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia
It can be hard to remember from this side of a successful foreign intervention in a US presidential election, but in April 2016, Mark Zuckerberg was widely praised when he spoke out – however obliquely – against Donald Trump’s then longshot presidential candidacy. “I’m starting to see people and nations turning inward against this idea of a connected world,” the Facebook chief executive said in a speech. “I hear fearful voices talking about building walls … It takes courage to choose hope over fear.” Three and a half years later, another US presidential campaign is well under way and courage is not exactly thick on the ground at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. For the past few weeks, the company has been embroiled in a slow-motion scandal over its inexplicable policies on political misinformation, one that epitomizes the kind of moral cowardice that characterizes Facebook’s approach to its political challenges. … [Read more...] about Facebook’s decision to promote Trump’s lies shows how it’s programmed to protect the powerful