All Across the Alien Nation

Now THAT'S what I call the pearls that were his eyes

It’s April!

That’s right, it’s the month we revisit T.S. Eliot’s 1922 banger “The Waste Land,” which turns one hundred this December. Here’s my boy Tom himself reading it in his strenuously affected transatlantic accent and donating at least seven extra syllables to the word “cruellest.”

Do I regret that my taste in poetry is almost exclusively “pretentious white male New England modernists?” Of course. But we’re all prisoners of our identity—literally so for the characters in Severance, the only series that will show you fear in a plateful of waffles. In Dirt, newslettering’s foremost suburbanist Daisy Alioto traced the design elements and locations that connect Severance to the American suburban waste land. Meanwhile in Dorchester, “severance” means something quite different.

Outside of Dorchester “severance” is another word for “alienation,” where everything isn’t meant to be okay. And how are we dealing with the alienation of labor under capitalism a hundred years after Eliot sat in his ‘dark airless basement’ at Lloyd’s bank, pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door? Two guys from Staten Island dealt with it by handing the world’s fifth most valuable company its ass in a unionization vote. It’s good that Amazon’s lawyers are staying hydrated, they’re going to need it. The BBC’s Alex Christian reports that some of us are just coasting—resting on our absence of laurels, if you will. 

“In sales, it’s quite hard to tell how much work someone is putting in, so I’m kind of just riding off the work I put in previously,” he says. “Who knows if anyone is paying enough attention to realise I haven’t brought in anything new in for a while? My boss hasn’t even got ‘round to setting me targets.” 

If you need a little coasting, here’s two perfect minutes of it (you can watch it as many times as necessary):

Margaret Sullivan put in a full day’s work roasting CBS for hiring Mick Mulvaney, and fish are working harder than ever, according to the University of Bonn researchers who trained some of them to add and subtract. Both stingrays and bony cichlids got their sums right “with over 96% and 82% accuracy… respectively,” which compares very favorably to Mick Mulvaney, who is wrong 100% of the time.

But who are those hooded hordes swarming over endless plains? Maybe they’re the titular crazy ants from one of my all-time favorite Jon Mooallem stories, 2013’s “There’s a Reason They Call Them ‘Crazy Ants’.” Now Will Bostwick reports that a team of ecologists from U.T. Austin have discovered a fungal pathogen that appears to wipe out crazy ants without harming anything else. Good news for Mike the Hog-a-Nator. Or maybe they’re the customers of fast fashion colossus Shein, which is still private despite previous IPO rumors, and which Bloomberg reports is raising a billion dollars in new funding at a valuation of one hundred billion dollars, which “would make it the third most valuable startup in the world, after ByteDance Ltd. and SpaceX.” Does the company produce its super-cheap clothes using slavery or child labor? Who can say.

Facebook did a computer whoopsie where rather than “suppressing posts from repeat misinformation offenders… was instead giving the posts distribution, spiking views by as much as 30 percent globally,” reports Alex Heath. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Thomas Friedman is “beginning to wonder if [the Russia-Ukraine] conflict isn’t our first true world war,” which it isn’t and only an idiot would wonder that. The local CBS affiliate in Minnesota discovered some archival footage of an eleven year old Prince attending a teacher’s strike in 1970. It’s a nice story, and Anil’s Twitter thread on it is already 740 posts deep. Only there is shadow under this red rock, (come in under the shadow of this red rock) and Vulture’s Josef Adalian will show you that “CNN+ has Quibi vibes.”

Of course another way to deal with alienation is to just lie about everything, like French serial killer expert Stéphane Bourgoin did, according to Lauren Collins in The New Yorker. That works too.

Today’s Song: The Who, “Baba O’Riley”

~ You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon onglet,—mon frère! ~

Thanks to Senior Contributing Editor for Graphics Alison Headley for absolutely nailing what she described as “the most bonkers image request I’ve seen in all my years as a Tabs photoshopper.” This Friday is a new Today in Polly for subscribers. Tweets at @fka_tabs and @TodayinTabs. Registered at the post office as “Like everyone on the internet.” Thanks Caitlin! Now I finally feel like… we are friends. ❤️

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