All posts tagged: simple reason

The Impossible Pursuit of a Good Death

The Impossible Pursuit of a Good Death

Two years into recovery from a bad romance with booze and other drugs, an Iranian American poet makes a half-hearted attempt to redeem his misspent youth. He decides to write a book about people whose deaths retroactively imbued their lives with meaning: Joan of Arc, the early Muslim leader Hussain, the Irish Republican Army militant Bobby Sands, and, though he’s still alive, himself. Such is the premise of Kaveh Akbar’s first novel, Martyr!, an existential comedy about the difficulty of finding beauty in banality and sense in suffering. The novel opens in abjection. The protagonist, Cyrus Shams, lies prostrate on his piss-stained mattress in a college town in 2010s Indiana, beset by the anxious stupor that befalls those who do “the right drugs in the wrong order.” In a gesture as old as Saint Augustine’s Confessions and Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, he prays for a sign from God. But this particular drunken supplicant happens to be intimately familiar with the tradition of drunken supplication, and he knows that he’s too wretched to expect a grand gesture. …

The Only Way to Stop Trump

The Only Way to Stop Trump

This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here. Eminent legal scholars think the Constitution makes Donald Trump ineligible for office; critics of the idea worry that using the Fourteenth Amendment will create an uncontrollable political weapon. First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic: A Constitutional Dilemma For weeks, legal scholars and public intellectuals have been debating whether Donald Trump is constitutionally ineligible to run for president again. Six voters in Colorado filed a lawsuit last week that will test this theory. If you’re confused, or uncertain whether this is a good idea, join the club: I change my mind about it roughly once every 12 hours. Let’s review some basic civics. Here’s Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, passed by the U.S. Senate in 1866: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, …

Imagine TikTok Without the All-Knowing Algorithm

Imagine TikTok Without the All-Knowing Algorithm

TikTok’s algorithm knows. People speak of the unseen program governing the platform’s “For You” page, where videos populate based on ones you’ve previously interacted with, as an omniscient, omnipresent god. The algorithm has figured out your every interest and hobby, every thought you’ve ever had. More than once, it’s been alleged to have figured out that a person is queer before they knew themselves. The machine genuinely feels like it’s handpicking videos just for you—which is why everyone should pay close attention when the app allows some people to turn it off later this month. TikTok will soon allow users in Europe to disable the personalized feed. It’s an update meant to satisfy a component of the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) that requires the internet’s largest social-media sites to let users opt out of being algorithmically targeted. The regulation, part of an aggressive push in Europe in recent years to rein in tech platforms, is geared toward better protecting people’s rights online and mitigating risks to democracy such as the spread of disinformation. …

Donald Trump’s Unhinged Attacks on Smith and Chutkan

Donald Trump’s Unhinged Attacks on Smith and Chutkan

In some ways, Donald Trump’s mental state is more transparent than nearly any public figure’s: He has no shame, little discretion, and ample channels to broadcast his feelings in real time. Yet his constant stream of consciousness and always elevated dudgeon make it hard to parse the finer fluctuations in his mood. Even so, the former president’s public behavior since Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted him last week suggests a man feeling cornered. This isn’t to say that Trump is cornered—his ability to escape tough situations makes him the envy of every house cat—but that his handling of the case suggests a man rattled in a way he seldom has been. The former president has attacked Smith in terms that are strikingly personal, even for him. He has also attacked Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge assigned to hear the case. He delivered angry speeches in Alabama and South Carolina. He jeered the U.S. Women’s National Team, blamed President Joe Biden for its early exit from the World Cup, and unintelligibly ridiculed former House Speaker Nancy …