Tag: The Atlantic

China in Hong Kong

Sunday, 16 June, 2019

What’s going on in Hong Kong? For those of us not completely familiar with the situation, the BBC has created a useful explainer on Hong Kong and its relationship with the People’s Republic of China. The ongoing protests would seem to be about the extradition of “Hong Kongers” to Mainland China for trial, but a more fundamental struggle is taking place on the streets. All kinds of institutions are giving the citizens time and encouragement to demonstrate: small businesses, local bureaucracies and the unions. The teachers’ union is supporting student protesters and the transport union is backing bus drivers who deliberately slow down their service. Shopkeepers are handing out free water to demonstrators, while entrepreneurs are turning up with their employees to defend their civil rights.

Because Hong Kong is a huge economic asset for Beijing, the Communist apparatchiks face a dilemma. The island’s limited autonomy is based on a treaty that the mainland needs to respect to keep the money flowing, but this very autonomy is now undermining central government control. The authority of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, has been irreparably damaged and it would appear that it’s only a matter of time now before the mandarins order the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong to carry out its core mission: attacking and killing fellow Chinese.

The United States gave Most Favored Nation status to China in 2000 and soon afterwards helped the country become a WTO member. The appearance of tanks on the streets of Hong Kong running over demonstrators defending democracy would have huge implications for Beijing and China’s Most Favored Nation trade status would be put in jeopardy. That would make the current trade dispute look like a minor matter.

The Atlantic has produced a powerful photo series on the Hong Kong protests. This is what real “Resistance” looks like.

Hong Kong


Smartphones are almost everywhere

Sunday, 18 November, 2018

It’s estimated that 40 percent of the world’s population now has a smartphone. For three billion people, writes Alan Taylor in The Atlantic, “these versatile handheld devices have become indispensable tools, providing connections to loved ones, entertainment, business applications, shopping opportunities, windows into the greater world of social media, news, history, education, and more.”

Here, Nigerian refugee Aicha Younoussa poses with a smartphone in front of her tent in a refugee camp in southern Chad.

In Chad

Here, attendees take photos of President Donald Trump as he attends the 2018 Young Black Leadership Summit in the East Room of the White House.

President Trump in the White House

Here, three women take selfies in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan.

Piazza del Duomo


John McCain: warrior, Senator, patriot, man

Sunday, 26 August, 2018

The gallant old warrior, John McCain, who served America with such distinction and honour, is no more. He died yesterday aged 81. Senator John McCain was a patriot who believed in his bones that America was exceptional, and it is exceptional because of people like him.

In the coming days, it will be instructive to study the waves of admiration that wash over the legacy of the man who fought Hanoi Jane Fonda’s hero, Ho Chi Minh. And if we fast-forward from 1967 in Vietnam, where he was a prisoner of war, to 2008, when he was running for the presidency of the USA, we can learn a lot from how the media treated John McCain then and how the media operate today. Consider the role of that bastion of liberal ideals, The Atlantic.

Its October 2008 cover story was titled “Why War is His Answer – Inside the Mind of John McCain” and the author was one Jeffrey Goldberg. But because a picture is worth more than ten thousand of Goldberg’s words, the role of the snapper hired to do the (hit) job on McCain tells us as much as we need to know. The operative was Jill Greenberg, who styles herself as @jillmanipulator on Twitter, and here’s how she deployed her manipulative skills to take the photo that so tarnished the McCain campaign:

When The Atlantic called Jill Greenberg, a committed Democrat, to shoot a portrait of John McCain for its October cover, she rubbed her hands with glee…

After getting that shot, Greenberg asked McCain to “please come over here” for one more set-up before the 15-minute shoot was over. There, she had a beauty dish with a modeling light set up. “That’s what he thought he was being lit by,” Greenberg says. “But that wasn’t firing.”

What was firing was a strobe positioned below him, which cast the horror movie shadows across his face and on the wall right behind him. “He had no idea he was being lit from below,” Greenberg says. And his handlers didn’t seem to notice it either. “I guess they’re not very sophisticated,” she adds.

So, when you hear any of this lot eulogising the late John McCain, take note that they were again him before they were for him.

John McCain


They were against McCain before they were for him

Sunday, 13 May, 2018 0 Comments

Suddenly, the gallant old naval pilot, John McCain, is a Hero of The Left. This might have to do with a surge in leftist support for McCain’s belief in the importance of the warrior to the defence of freedom and the West, or it may be connected to McCain’s opposition to many of President Trump’s policies. The reader must decide.

But there’s more to this new wave of admiration for the man who fought Hanoi Jane Fonda’s bestie, Ho Chi Minh, than meets the eye. If we scroll back to late 2008, when John McCain was running against Barack Obama for the presidency of the USA, we can learn a lot from how the media apparatus treated him then. Consider the role of that bastion of liberal ideals, The Atlantic. Its October 2008 cover story was titled “Why War is His Answer – Inside the Mind of John McCain” and the author was one Jeffrey Goldberg, who went to become an Obama administration sycophant for eight years. But a picture is worth more than ten thousand of Goldberg’s words so the snapper hired to do the (hit) job on McCain was a famous “#Resistance” operative named Jill Greenberg. Here’s how she deployed her skills to take the photo that helped sink the McCain campaign:

When The Atlantic called Jill Greenberg, a committed Democrat, to shoot a portrait of John McCain for its October cover, she rubbed her hands with glee…

After getting that shot, Greenberg asked McCain to “please come over here” for one more set-up before the 15-minute shoot was over. There, she had a beauty dish with a modeling light set up. “That’s what he thought he was being lit by,” Greenberg says. “But that wasn’t firing.”

What was firing was a strobe positioned below him, which cast the horror movie shadows across his face and on the wall right behind him. “He had no idea he was being lit from below,” Greenberg says. And his handlers didn’t seem to notice it either. “I guess they’re not very sophisticated,” she adds.

So, when you hear any of this lot eulogising John McCain, reach for the vomit bag.

John McCain


Trump is Jay Gatsby

Friday, 28 August, 2015 1 Comment

The average working American has seen her standard of living stagnate during the Obama years and despite having a job and despite reports of impressive growth doesn’t feel confident about the economy. The presidential candidate who appeals most to this disaffected worker/voter is the spectacularly wealthy Donald Trump. He is leveraging the blue-collar anxiety, which used to be Bruce Springsteen’s songbook, into a campaign that terrifies the chattering class.

On 14 August, Conor Friedersdorf, a writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs, wrote a letter to Donald Trump supporters with One Big Question: “If you elect the billionaire, what makes you think that he will use whatever talents that he possesses to address your grievances rather than to benefit himself?” On 17 August, Friedersdorf published 30 of the responses. Given that this is Gatsby week at Rainy Day, here’s one that caught our eye:

Gatsby“Donald Trump personifies a modern-day, extremely brash Jay Gatsby, clawing feverishly for that elusive ‘green light’ at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s beckoning dock. Is it not better to place your chips on hopes and dreams rather than certain nightmares? Those of us who buy into Trump’s vision, nearly to the point of blind trust, are loudly professing our disgust with the current immoral situations that taint and threaten our blueprint of the American dream:

  • A world in which police are reluctant to protect citizens (and themselves) for fear of reprimands and indictments
  • An atmosphere in which politicians are ridiculed for uttering the simple truth
  • A media more concerned with those nauseating, idiotic Kardashians than with the welfare of its heroic war veterans

Carraway further states: “…Gatsby turned out all right in the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams, that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and the short-winded elations of men.” The ‘foul dust’ floating in the wake of Trump’s dreams consists of a biased, unfair, unimaginative media and his fellow dull, donor-driven candidates. But Mr. Trump, as Nick said to Jay Gatsby: ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together!'”

Thanks for your attention this week. More Gatsby next August.


Ambulator nascitur, non fit

Monday, 3 February, 2014 1 Comment

There are those who believe that poeta nascitur, non fit (a poet is born, not made), and those who don’t. The same applies to walkers. Well, that’s what Henry David Thoreau thought. A month after his death from tuberculosis, in May 1862, The Atlantic magazine published one of his most famous essays, “Walking,” which contains the observation, Ambulator nascitur, non fit. To someone who did some serious walking in January, the aphorism rings true. And the following passage is filled with goodness:

“My vicinity affords many good walks; and though for so many years I have walked almost every day, and sometimes for several days together, I have not yet exhausted them. An absolutely new prospect is a great happiness, and I can still get this any afternoon. Two or three hours’ walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect ever to see. A single farmhouse which I had not seen before is sometimes as good as the dominions of the King of Dahomey. There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you.”

In essence, Walking celebrates the rewards of immersing oneself in nature and mourns the inevitable advance of land ownership upon the wilderness.


We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month

Thursday, 7 March, 2013 0 Comments

“Thanks for responding. Maybe by the end of the week? 1,200 words? We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month. I understand if that’s not a workable arrangement for you, I just wanted to see if you were interested.

Thanks so much again for your time. A great piece!”

So writes Olga Khazan, the Global Editor of The Atlantic, to Nate Thayer, journalist. Their exchange is documented by Thayer on his blog at A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist — 2013. Backstory: Khazan had read Thayer’s 4,300-word story for North Korea News about “basketball diplomacy”, and she was thinking of running a shorter version of the piece in The Atlantic. What makes Khazan’s offer of zero so shocking is that there was a time, and not so long ago, either, when The Atlantic was offering Thayer $125,000 to write six articles a year for the magazine.

In a damage-limitation action, James Bennet, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, wrote about the Thayer incident saying “We’re sorry we offended him,” and Alexis C. Madrigal joined the debate with A Day in the Life of a Digital Editor, 2013, which clarifies the “reality” of the situation from The Atlantic perspective. Bottom line: “Anyway, the biz ain’t what it used to be, but then again, for most people, it never really was. And, to you Mr. Thayer, all I can say is I wish I had a better answer.”

There are no satisfactory answers anymore. As The Irish Examiner has just discovered, the old media model is broken and the rough contours of the new one are only now taking shape. Felix Salmon of Reuters put it best when he noted: “Digital journalism isn’t really about writing, any more — not in the manner that freelance print journalists understand it, anyway. Instead, it’s more about reading, and aggregating, and working in teams; doing all the work that used to happen in old print-magazine offices, but doing it on a vastly compressed timescale.”