Donald Trump is reminiscent of Kaiser Wilhelm II, during whose reign the upper echelons of the German government began to unravel into a free-for-all

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During Kaiser Wilhelm II’s reign, the upper echelons of the German government began to unravel into a free-for-all, with officials wrangling against one another. Photo: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

By Miranda Carter

One of the few things that Kaiser Wilhelm II, who ruled Germany from 1888 to 1918, had a talent for was causing outrage. A particular specialty was insulting other monarchs. He called the diminutive King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy “the dwarf” in front of the king’s own entourage. He called Prince (later Tsar) Ferdinand, of Bulgaria, “Fernando naso,” on account of his beaky nose, and spread rumors that he was a hermaphrodite. Since Wilhelm was notably indiscreet, people always knew what he was saying behind their backs. Ferdinand had his revenge. …


The most lurid corner of the Internet is not a new dating app or a fetish site. It’s a column in which anonymous young professional women document every penny they earn and spend in a week

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Refinery29’s record-your-expenditures column suggests that money may be the last arena in which we’re allowed to judge others openly. Photo: martin-dm/Getty Images

By Carrie Battan

The most lurid corner of the Internet is not a new dating app or a fetish site. It’s not an alt-right forum or a bitcoin marketplace, nor is it some channel of the deep Web where novel, illicit substances are heavily trafficked. It is Money Diaries, a column, from the life-style site Refinery29, in which anonymous young professional women document every penny they earn and spend in a week — on Uber rides, lattes, birthday gifts, impulse-buy candy bars at the Walgreens register. Like I said: thrilling stuff.

Money Diaries launched in January of 2016, premised on the idea that “the first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend.” By encouraging young women to record their expenditures, and to discuss their finances frankly, Refinery29 could, the theory goes, help young women become savvier about money. The first woman to brave the experiment was a twenty-seven-year-old Brooklynite making sixty-five thousand dollars a year in an undisclosed “creative industry.” Her entry was candid and funny: she ordered buffalo wings and a large pizza for herself late at night ($28.74); bought beauty products online, to compensate for being unhappy at work ($59); ordered a copy of a novel on Amazon ($10.66); and dabbled in cocaine (gratis). “I don’t know how much drugs are supposed to cost, but I heard coke is pricey,” she wrote. “I just did a line because it was offered, and I was drunk. …


My dad often told us that he assumed that he would have sons, but he ended up with girls. He eventually adjusted. As his firstborn, I became his mission.

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Photo: Rae Russel/Getty Images

By Robin Wright

As my sister, Jana, tells it, my father and I had one long conversation that spanned thirty-four years. “From the time I remember, you and dad were always talking — about the world, about sports, about everything,” she told me recently. My dad often told us that he assumed that he would have sons, but he ended up with girls. He eventually adjusted. I was his firstborn; I became his mission.

My father, L. Hart Wright, was the son of conservative Baptists in Oklahoma — his father was a bank president and his mother a snob who boasted of having descended from a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He became an agnostic, a liberal, and a law professor at the University of Michigan who ironed his own clothes. He wore bow ties most of his life. My mother made them. …


I wonder how far along the scale of moral degeneration Zweig would judge America to be in its current state

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Stefan Zweig in Ossining, New York, in 1941, seven years after he fled the ascendant Nazism of Europe. Photo: ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

By George Prochnik

The Austrian émigré writer Stefan Zweig composed the first draft of his memoir, “The World of Yesterday,” in a feverish rapture during the summer of 1941, as headlines gave every indication that civilization was being swallowed in darkness. Zweig’s beloved France had fallen to the Nazis the previous year. The Blitz had reached a peak in May, with almost fifteen hundred Londoners dying in a single night. Operation Barbarossa, the colossal invasion of the Soviet Union by the Axis powers, in which nearly a million people would die, had launched in June. …


She was fooled by a group of expert criminals. The rest of us were fooled by her.

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By David Owen

The voice mail was from my mother’s longtime stockbroker, in the private-client department at Charles Schwab. “We’ve had some requests for large cash withdrawals from her account,” she said, and asked me to call her back. “We’re afraid that maybe someone has gotten to her. She requested two hundred thousand out.” She’d taken the money from a trust that she inherited from her own mother; now, the broker said, she had requested even more money. “And, again, we just want to make sure that this is legit as to what’s going on.”

I called back immediately and told the person who took my call to stop everything. Then I called my mother, who is in her late eighties and lives alone, in Kansas City, in a retirement community near a shopping area called the Country Club Plaza. (People who aren’t from Kansas City laugh at that name, but the shopping area is almost a century old. There’s also a Country Club Christian Church.) She angrily said that she knew what she was doing, and told me to butt out. Eventually, under pressure, she explained that she’d won enough money to set up our family for life, and that, if I interfered, I would ruin everything. …


Why assessing the state of the world is harder than it sounds.

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By Joshua Rothman

Branko Milanović grew up in Yugoslavia, during the nineteen-sixties and seventies. He became an economist at the World Bank and then a professor at CUNY; on his blog, Globalinequality, he discusses economics and reminisces about the past. Recently, he published a post about his youth. He had been reading histories of the postwar decades, by Svetlana Alexievich, Tony Judt, and others. Faced with these grim accounts, Milanović felt protective of his past. “However hard I tried,” he wrote, “I just could not see anything in my memories that had to deal with collectivization, killings, political trials, endless bread lines, imprisoned free thinkers,” and so on. Instead, he had mainly good memories — of “long dinners discussing politics,” the “excitement of new books,” “languid sunsets, whole-night concerts, epic soccer games, girls in miniskirts.” He worried that, with the passage of time, it was becoming harder to imagine life under Communism as anything other than a desperate struggle with deprivation and repression. …


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The financial privileges described in three recent articles amount to an instinctive denial of what American wealth really is and what it really means. Photograph by Jamel Toppin. Courtesy Forbes.

By Jia Tolentino

Lately, the air has been crackling with financial resentment. Tweets and articles about money — about, say, how Kylie Jenner is a self-made billionaire, or how two rich college graduates chose their expensive apartment in Kips Bay, or how one young woman lives in New York on an intern’s salary and a generous parental allowance — have extended themselves, like steel rods, into our atmosphere of extreme inequality. As planned, the lightning of outraged public attention has forked and flashed through the air.

The agita directed at these recent articles, published by Forbes, the Times, and Refinery29, respectively, is much less about the articles themselves and much more about the era and the nation we live in. We are mad at billionaires because our richest one employs warehouse workers who sometimes have to pee in bottles to avoid being punished for taking bathroom breaks. We are mad at the way American wealth is locked up and transmitted within families because we live in the world’s richest major country, and yet a third of our population struggles to get by. But our current political system is stacked so firmly in favor of those who wish to keep things this way that we have found ourselves, as usual, litigating these issues in discourse rather than in policy. …


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Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

By Katy Waldman

In more than twenty years of running diversity-training and cultural-competency workshops for American companies, the academic and educator Robin DiAngelo has noticed that white people are sensationally, histrionically bad at discussing racism. Like waves on sand, their reactions form predictable patterns: they will insist that they “were taught to treat everyone the same,” that they are “color-blind,” that they “don’t care if you are pink, purple, or polka-dotted.” They will point to friends and family members of color, a history of civil-rights activism, or a more “salient” issue, such as class or gender. They will shout and bluster. They will cry. In 2011, DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” to describe the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged — and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy. …


What a burgeoning movement says about science, solace, and how a theory becomes truth.

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Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

By Alan Burdick

On the last Sunday afternoon in March, Mike Hughes, a sixty-two-year-old limousine driver from Apple Valley, California, successfully launched himself above the Mojave Desert in a homemade steam-powered rocket. He’d been trying for years, in one way or another. In 2002, Hughes set a Guinness World Record for the longest ramp jump — a hundred and three feet — in a limo, a stretch Lincoln Town Car. In 2014, he allegedly flew thirteen hundred and seventy-four feet in a garage-built rocket and was injured when it crashed. He planned to try again in 2016, but his Kickstarter campaign, which aimed to raise a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, netted just two supporters and three hundred and ten dollars. Further attempts were scrubbed — mechanical problems, logistical hurdles, hassles from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Finally, a couple of months ago, he made good. …


Incels aren’t really looking for sex. They’re looking for absolute male supremacy.

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By Jia Tolentino

Lately I have been thinking about one of the first things that I ever wrote for the Internet: a series of interviews with adult virgins, published by the Hairpin. I knew my first subject personally, and, after I interviewed her, I put out an open call. To my surprise, messages came rolling in. Some of the people I talked to were virgins by choice. Some were not, sometimes for complicated, overlapping reasons: disability, trauma, issues related to appearance, temperament, chance. “Embarrassed doesn’t even cover it,” a thirty-two-year-old woman who chose the pseudonym Bette told me. “Not having erotic capital, not being part of the sexual marketplace . . . that’s a serious thing in our world! I mean, practically everyone has sex, so what’s wrong with me?” A twenty-six-year-old man who was on the autism spectrum and had been molested as a child wondered, “If I get naked with someone, am I going to take to it like a duck to water, or am I going to start crying and lock myself in the bathroom?” He hoped to meet someone who saw life clearly, who was gentle and independent. “Sometimes I think, why would a woman like that ever want me?” he said. …

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