The Sunday Post for February 26, 2017

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles good for slow consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat.

4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump

Two good ones this week on a particular alt-right (or whatever) subculture:

Laurie Penny has spent solid time with Milo Yiannopoulis and his young male entourage, and her account from the tour bus during the Berkeley riot is mesmerizing and exceptionally well written. Make sure to pair it, though, with this counter by Aura Bogado, on what happens when you code white privilege as innocence.

In a similar spirit (if you’re not sure what that spirit is, go read Graham Greene’s “The Destructors”): Dale Beran’s piece on 4Chan, the online forum that birthed Gamergate, and how it grew from a few kids who liked anime to a worldwide collective with the power to change our country’s future.

Trump supporters voted for the con-man, the labyrinth with no center, because the labyrinth with no center is how they feel, how they feel the world works around them. A labyrinth with no center is a perfect description of their mother’s basement with a terminal to an endless array of escapist fantasy worlds.

Trump’s bizarre, inconstant, incompetent, embarrassing, ridiculous behavior — what the left (naturally) perceives as his weaknesses — are to his supporters his strengths.

Code Rouge: Cracking the Case of the Counterfeit Makeup

Simple to make, lightweight to ship, and a breeze to unload over EBay and Alibaba, counterfeit makeup is easy money. David Gauvey Herbert follows “Operation Big MAC,” a DEA-led initiative to take down cosmetic companies’ biggest enemy: the multitude of small-time sellers that are costing name brands billions every year. A crazy mix of high drama and petty theft, and maybe just a touch of schadenfreude for the original flim-flam industry ($20 for a tube of lipstick? how’d you talk us into that?).

Greenberg and rookie inspector MacDonald initiated surveillance on the family’s home. For months, two to four vehicles at a time would park nearby, watching business associates pick up inventory. Agents also tailed the couple as they drove around town. They went to school, the gym, and restaurants, but never seemed to hold 9-to-5 jobs. And yet over four years, investigators tallied $629,000 in cash deposits to the couple’s bank account, plus an additional $100,000 in Amazon sales.
Harold Denton, nuclear regulator who calmed fears at Three Mile Island, dies at 80

Harold Denton was an archetypal American hero — cool under pressure, fearless when the chips are down — whose country called him to meet an equally archetypal crisis: a nuclear emergency on Three Mile Island. Do right, save the world. The Washington Post revisits his story.

News reports speculated on several apocalyptic scenarios, including the possibility that an explosion could rip through concrete walls four feet thick. The most serious risk was a meltdown, in which the reactor’s superheated core could burn through the building’s base and burrow into the earth.

Mr. Denton was monitoring events from NRC’s headquarters, but President Jimmy Carter said a federal official should be at the scene to take charge. On March 30, two days after the initial accident, Mr. Denton flew to Three Mile Island in a White House helicopter.

He found the power plant to be in “absolute chaos,” he told The Washington Post at the time.

Complicated. Weird. Beautiful! The secret Google project to put an aquarium full of tiny, wiggly water bears inside your phone

I hadn’t thought to mourn the death of Google’s Ara, the modular phone project that closed last year, “hamstrung by time, money, and worst of all, reality” — until I read this. A phone full of water bears? Yes, ridiculous, but gloriously so. Also a very readable, very geeky inside look at the outer edge of tech innovation.

As Google neared completion of what would become a last-ditch effort at the shell for an Ara prototype, the company commissioned a team of Brooklyn engineers, designers, and artists to dream up the craziest idea imaginable and squish it down to fit inside a phone.

If you could build an entire phone out of blocks, like a high-tech Lego set, what would you create?