Crab Cannon

You'll never guess what the phrase "restaurant-size pepper mill" refers to.

It’s a short week in tabs, but you know what isn’t short? The reply thread on Ronan Farrow’s latest Instagram thirst trap:

Instagram comments from mrjaymanuel: “Unmmm video games… what??? #nipples 🥵” and susanorlean: “😂😂😂😂”

Also Not Short: Ava Kofman’s New Yorker x ProPublica exposé of the length and girth of the list of complaints brought by regretful recipients of urologist James Elist’s “Penuma” penile implant which, as Kofman’s story points out several times, got a massive sales enhancement from this cheerfully credulous 2016 GQ article. So Condé got them coming and going, as it were. But apparently…

Not everyone minded. Kaelan Strouse, a thirty-five-year-old life coach, was thrilled by both the “restaurant-size pepper mill” between his legs and the kilts he began wearing to accommodate it.

As Bell Biv DeVoe said, never trust a big dick in a kilt.1 

susanorlean: 😂😂😂😂

This weekend The New Yorker also brought us polycular classicist Agnes Callard’s new troll, “The Case Against Travel,” which annoyed everyone, although if you read past the headline, she is unfortunately right. I am pro-travel and I take no pleasure in reporting this. She’s not actually arguing against travel at all, is the thing, she’s arguing against tourism and more specifically the kind of fetishized tourism-by-rote that has already been critiqued with more subtlety and wit by writers like David Foster Wallace, Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, Jerome K. Jerome, and David Foster Wallace. I guess making everyone mad with a conventional argument dressed in contrarian clothing is a useful trick, but in the penultimate paragraph she veers off and suddenly asserts that in fact travel gives us a preview of death!!!

Travel splits this expanse of time into the chunk that happens before the trip, and the chunk that happens after it, obscuring from view the certainty of annihilation. And it does so in the cleverest possible way: by giving you a foretaste of it. You don’t like to think about the fact that someday you will do nothing and be nobody. You will only allow yourself to preview this experience when you can disguise it in a narrative about how you are doing many exciting and edifying things…

Socrates said that philosophy is a preparation for death. For everyone else, there’s travel.

Now this is the kind of lunacy I want from Agnes. Especially now, when the biggest news in the world is a boat full of millionaires imploding on a visit to the world’s most famous and exclusive grave site. Someone put a copy of Connie Willis’s Passage in Agnes’s hands and let her cook.

Other Thoughts About Travel:

Neil deGrasse Tyson tweets: “In principle, @TheFlash could kiss his own cheek in a mirror... If he moves backwards through time when traveling faster than light, he could kiss the mirror before his reflection knows about it. Then press the side of his face against the mirror, kissing himself on the cheek.”

Intern Mariam is here with the rest of this weekend’s travel news:

The Shein-fluencer Junket

Fast-fashion leviathan Shein, infamous for its janky clothes, environmentally destructive and toxic products, and forced labor claims sent six “confidence activists” on a sponsored visit to the brand’s facilities in China last week in an effort to rebrand as “not completely evil.” It went about as well as you’d expect.

Tweet by @LindseyCreated: “SHEIN is sending the influencer girlies to China to some (PR) “innovation” factory where it looks pristine and super clean and the workers are having fun while sewing and the company saying they pay a “competitive” wage lol”

Influencer/model Dani Carbonari’s fawning video tour was the most viral piece of media to emerge from the PR junket. She calls herself an "investigative journalist” and says she’s “excited and impressed to see the working conditions” at the Guangzhou factory. “I was able to interview a woman who works in the fabric cutting department… she was very surprised by all the rumors that have been spread in the US,” said Carbonari. “There's a narrative fed to us in the US and I'm one that always likes to be open-minded and seek the truth…” After being dragged relentlessly for her naïveté, Carbonari is not mad, in fact she’s laughing.

The other five CONfidence Activists employed eerily similar language, suggestive of a Shein-provided form letter: “Like many others, I’ve heard a lot of misinformation,” said Marina Saavedra. “I expected this facility to be so filled with people just slaving away…they weren’t even sweating, we were the ones sweating,” said Destene Sudduth (the audacity!), adding workers “get a nap-time after lunch.” In a post she has since deleted Aujené insisted that “everyone we came across was content with their salary and the idea of child labor was something they looked at me crazy for.”

Actual investigative journalist Iman Amrani’s 2022 documentary exposed a few of the awful realities inside Shein facilities: laborers working 18-hour days, seven days a week, being paid $.02-.03 cents per garment while meeting strict guidelines and incurring severe punishments for mistakes, with barred windows and no emergency exits.

Iman Amrani tweeted: “I commented on her video to say we had done the first undercover investigation into factories supplying clothes to Shein which provided video evidence of laws being broken - they aren't just rumours. She has since deleted all of the comments and moved the video to her reels...” in a QT of a Tiktok “translating” one of Carbonari’s posts.

For this trip, Shein handpicked creators who “look progressive to a Western audience,” i.e. none of them are thin white women, and who by their own account aren’t being flooded with other brand partnership offers. While Shein carefully showcased a specific one of its 6,000 factories, the company’s documented wrongdoings are by no means difficult to find. Even a cursory Google search reveals Shein rips off indie designers, endangers customer data, emits 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide yearly, and sells toddler clothes bursting with lead. Is getting that brand partnership bag worth promoting all this?

Aspiring influencers take note: these “wellness advocates” are bleeding followers while Shein remains both mum and flush. Bioré and Tarte are doing just fine while the influencer who referenced a school shooting in an ad and the girlies flown to Dubai for a “tone-deaf” all-expenses-paid trip, respectively, are out here fighting for their damn lives. Brands don’t care about you! Hope that “epic night cruise to admire Guangzhou's amazing skyline” was worth it.

—Mariam Sharia is simply not going to write shorter no matter what her editor says, she is not the one, she knows exactly who she is, she knows exactly what she’s doing, and to be a pioneer you just gotta write a lot of words sometimes, so it is what it is, you don’t know her, you don’t know her vision, and the relationship she has with herself is on another level.

I am a Triangle Shirtwaist ambassador here in New York getting a closer look behind the scenes at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory!

Today in Crabs: Crab Canon. Not to be confused with crab cannon.

Screenshot of Bach’s Crab Canon from tiktok.

Casey Newton on the Canada Facebook news blackout. Also via Casey, Bloonface: “Why did the #TwitterMigration fail?” Charlie Savage on twenty-eight years of being the guy that popularized “The Dark Side of the Rainbow.” A recap of the infamous Doom Wad Bathroom thread on Bluesky (sorry if you can’t see this yet!). Tom Scocca and Maria Bustillos chatted about the Russia coup and “The Limits of Expert Analysis” and it’s more enlightening than anything anyone has to say about the coup itself, so far. James Vincent: “AI is killing the old web, and the new web struggles to be born.” Watergate historian Garrett M. Graff “there’s nowhere on thousands of hours of Nixon tapes where Nixon makes any comment as clear, as clearly illegal, and as clearly self-aware as this Trump tape.”

Today’s Song: Pink Floyd, “Time”

This one is not Music Intern Sam’s choice, I just wanted to commemorate my own “Dark Side of the Rainbow” history, which I will tell you about if we’re ever sharing a drink. Thanks to Intern Mariam for keeping it brief as always. Scheduling note: normal Tabs tomorrow, then we’re off Thursday, and then Friday is Intern Mariam’s graduation tabs! I know I say this at the end of every Intern month but I can’t believe it’s been a month already. If you enjoyed her contributions, this is very nearly your last chance to subscribe and help me pay her.

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