The US is going to get a new, capitalist Cuba—and it might not like it

Originally posted on Quartz:

Cuba is already far from being the place it used to be. The once proudly tattered mansions of central Havana sport fresh paint jobs and modern fittings. Those magnificent old American gas guzzlers not reduced to rust or scrap have largely been turned into tourist limos. Air-conditioned buses speed travelers across the island, there are hotels that are neither exorbitant nor terrible, and the food is sometimes even described as “mind-blowing.”

The thaw in US-Cuba relations that began this week promises to accelerate this modernization. Though lifting the US embargo is still up to the recalcitrant Republicans who will, as of January, control Congress, their resistance is bound to crumble by 2018, when Raúl Castro has said he will cede power—most likely to Miguel Díaz Canel, a reformist who was not even born when Fidel took control in 1959. From there, Cuba’s abundant beaches, proximity to the US, and the ruthless entrepreneurialism…

View original 137 more words

Why black Americans love Fidel Castro

Originally posted on Quartz:

When it came to matching words with deeds on the topic of racial equality, the most stalwart leader of the Western hemisphere, over the course of the 20th century, was Fidel Castro.

I say this as a black American who came to bond closely with Latin America as an adult, living in Mexico for almost two years, traveling and staying with families in the Dominican Republic, and making more than half a dozen visits to Cuba, where I strolled through its enchanting cities and drove into the far reaches of the countryside, forging relationships with its people, especially those of darker hue.

Ronald Howard with Fidel Castro

The author with Fidel Castro

Now we are again feeling the heat of the burning topic, the man, who bonded black Americans to his Caribbean island. Yes, it was Fidel Castro who—even though out of power now for years—is angering so many Americans, especially police officers, over his signature action three…

View original 1,271 more words

2014 was a year of sport mismanagement

Originally posted on Quartz:

The sporting year 2014 will be remembered, depending on what sport you are a fan of, for the odd moment of individual brilliance, a dramatic team collapse and the enduring excellence of a couple of veterans. The thing is, examples of achievement and failure can of course be found in every sport, almost every year. But 2014 will also go down as the year of sporting mismanagement.

The perceived failure of the various authorities and governing bodies to make the right decisions, encourage excellence and balance the soul of sporting competition with their commercial realities has always been a constant, low-level grumble among sports fans. We all think we could do a better job than FIFA, the IOC or the NFL in making sport what it should be. Some of that is conservatism, or a misplaced yearning for the games to be as they were when we were kids:…

View original 905 more words

Black Mirror’s new “Christmas Special” takes on robot slaves, smart homes, and blocking IRL

Originally posted on PandoDaily:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 2.27.17 AM

Every generation needs its Black Mirror.

In 1932, Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World reflected the ugliest sides of consumerism, commoditization, and complacency. In 1949, George Orwell published 1984, which warned against how governments used surveillance, propaganda, and fear to control societies. And in 1984, William Gibson’s Neuromancer forecasted the terrifying confluence of big data, the connected self, and cybercrime, years before those terms even existed.

Today, with so many of Huxley’s, Orwell’s, and Gibson’s predictions taking shape, and technological innovation affecting our routines and psyches faster than our laws and mores can catch up, science fiction plays a more important role to society than ever. Not only can the genre foresee any potential dystopian futures where our current paths may lead if we aren’t careful. By turning audiences into outside observers of technology, as opposed to merely active participants, science fiction can also communicate how this “progress” has already altered our relationships with each other, our governments, and ourselves.

A few works…

View original 934 more words

Pilots have organized a ferocious, at times threatening, response to Quartz’s story about Instagrams in the sky

Originally posted on Quartz:

Quartz’s investigation of commercial airline pilots taking photos and videos of their flights provoked a furious response from the aviation community. Hundreds of pilots and their fans have been harassing the reporter who wrote the story with vitriolic comments and, at times, threats of violence.

The outcry started even before the piece was published on Dec. 11. “Heads Up. D-Bag Alert,” began one thread on a message board for pilots, after Quartz sought comment from people who had posted images to Instagram that appeared to violate safety rules. After the story went online, the thread erupted with livid replies and an organized campaign to harass the reporter, David Yanofsky.

“This motherfucker needs to be put on the no fly list,” wrote the anonymous organizer of a popular Facebook page, Shit Pilots Say, which has galvanized much of the response. Thousands of comments, many of them threatening, have been left on Yanofsky’s accounts on

View original 997 more words