Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
I missed Sophia Shalmiyev’s recent reading at Elliott Bay Books, with immense regret. Her review of Eileen Myles’s Afterglow is one of the most vibrant and energetic pieces I’ve edited in my time as associate editor here, and I was eager to see that energy on stage. Nanci McCloskey’s interview with Shalmiyev shows exactly why: Shalmiyev brings a fiercely feminist perspective and the same ambition to critical writing as she does to creative.
Every time I write I might imagine a feminist thinker or writer I wish to speak to directly and I try to do so without any of the pretenses or idealizations that reduce most women in the arts to tropes and clichés. Like Oh, that’s that experimental novelist; or that’s that writer who had been raped. I hate this. I hate that women must be marketed for their pain or their proximity to power, but not for their actual craft. Jean Rhys comes to mind right away. Ok, it is very relevant that she was an unhappy, broke, alcoholic, now what? Her sentences slaughter. Her themes and topics are sliced lemons on newly cut skin.
The contractors Facebook hires to screen content are emotionally scalded, under extreme performance pressure and threat of retaliation from disgruntled moderators, and beholden to confusing, constantly changing, and often ignorant or misinformed direction from Facebook itself — corporate errors that can cost them their jobs.
Next time you log on to the behemoth popularity contest, reflect on the fact that this excruciatingly thankless work also allows our tech gods to continue stretching the income inequity gap until it breaks. Then take the currency of your attention to another vendor.
The use of contract labor also has a practical benefit for Facebook: it is radically cheaper. The median Facebook employee earns $240,000 annually in salary, bonuses, and stock options. A content moderator working for Cognizant in Arizona, on the other hand, will earn just $28,800 per year. The arrangement helps Facebook maintain a high profit margin. In its most recent quarter, the company earned $6.9 billion in profits, on $16.9 billion in revenue. And while Zuckerberg had warned investors that Facebook’s investment in security would reduce the company’s profitability, profits were up 61 percent over the previous year.
Sara Fredman uses television’s favorite antiheroes to dissect how unlikeable women help us like unlikeable men. Painful but apt, and worth reflection heading into 2020.
Looking back, it’s painful to admit that for many in the electorate, Hillary Clinton was the Skyler to Trump’s Walt, the Betty to his Don. We had already spent years seeing her as the Carmela to Bill’s Tony, implicated in her husband’s misdeeds by dint of staying with him, forever tainted by her own moral compromises that, while they paled in comparison to his, were for some reason less forgivable and rendered her eternally “unlikable.” It made sense, then, that when Clinton took a jab at Trump’s penchant for avoiding paying taxes while explaining her plan to raise taxes on the wealthy during the third debate, Trump interrupted to call her “such a nasty woman.” This one, he seemed to be telling viewers at home, is a Skyler.