When 24-year-old Nyiko Lebogang Shikwambane left her home on the outskirts of Johannesburg to begin her law degree at the University of Witswatersrand in 2011, she brought with her the aspirations of a family of teachers and nurses—the only esteemed professions most black people living in South Africa could aspire to during the time of apartheid.The University of Witwatersrand, known locally as “Wits,” is among South Africa’s one-time predominantly white educational institutions, which, during apartheid, sporadically butted heads with the government over their admissions policies. While a small number of black students were admitted to Wits and other similar, mostly English-medium, prestigious universities like the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Rhodes University, their student bodies remained largely white at the time. But within several years of the end of apartheid, the student bodies at many of these universities was majority black.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
After Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, the Black Mirror episode in which a politically incorrect cartoon bear ends up as a terrifyingly plausible political candidate no longer seemed quite so outlandish. But while “The Waldo Moment” has been most closely tied with the rise of Trump, the episode is not Black Mirror’s best critique of the candidate.For that, turn to “Men Against Fire.” The third season’s fifth episode follows Stripe, a soldier fighting a high-tech war against a series of vampiric hell zombies in a bombed out village somewhere in what seems to be Eastern Europe. The twist, as you know by now, is that the “roaches” are actually human beings. Stripe and his fellow soldiers perceive them as vicious subhumans because of an army-issued implant that changes the soldiers’ vision and other senses: “You don’t hear the shrieks, you don’t smell the blood or the shit,” an army official explains to Stripe.
It’s a Sisyphean task, reflecting on something as fleeting as the “present.” Yet it’s striking how different the planet is compared to 2011—just five years ago—when Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror first aired on British TV. Comprised of three one-off stories—each posing menacing what-if scenarios sprung from the interplay between technology and society—the series painted a near-future that was both darkly entertaining and disconcertingly plausible.Yet now, in the strange, lurid nightmare that is 2016, it’s hard to tell if Black Mirror is more necessary than ever, or has been rendered completely redundant. Why bother scripting the nightmare when reality is just as bad?
In the middle of “Dissonance Theory,” the Man in Black (Ed Harris) demands answers from Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), one of Westworld’s feared killers; she has a full-body snake tattoo, and he wants its secret. She tells him the story of Wyatt, the man who slaughtered her hometown and forced her to play dead in her mother’s blood in order to survive. Revenge has been the backbone of her life since.But we’ve seen Armistice before, and this wasn’t her story then. Wyatt’s new, a backstory plugged into the narrative by the park’s director Ford (Anthony Hopkins), who loaded her up with the trauma because it gave her something to do. She suffered so greatly because it might make her more interesting to the guests.
Sono un uomo gay di 49 anni, e ho fatto amicizia con un ventunenne etero davvero bono che ha dovuto abbandonare l’università e tornare a casa. So che ha bisogno di soldi perché non ha ancora trovato lavoro e si è dovuto arrangiare vendendo la sua vecchia strumentazione musicale. A me piacerebbe molto possedere qualche suo indumento sudato, nello specifico le mutande, ma mi andrebbe bene anche una canottiera. È legale chiedere a una persona di venderti la sua biancheria intima? Lui è un ragazzo davvero caro e non vorrei spaventarlo con una richiesta così personale. Come faccio ad affrontare l’argomento?– Lustfully Obsessed Stink Seeker
From the moment you cross the bridge over the old steam train railway line to Deraa, you can see what happened to this little town south-west of Damascus. It’s not just the bullet holes, the smashed buildings, the toppled mosque with its minaret lying in pathetic chunks, nor the apartment blocks that have slid into the streets after two years of Syrian tank fire and helicopter bombing. Nor the underground hospital.
In an age of anxiety, the words sound so reassuring: predictive policing. The first half promises an awareness of events that have not yet occurred. The second half clarifies that the future in question will be one of safety and security. Together, they perfectly match the current obsession with big data and the mathematical prediction of human actions. They also address the current obsession with crime in the Western world – especially in the United States, where this year’s presidential campaign has whipsawed between calls for law and order and cries that black lives matter. A system that effectively anticipated future crime could allow an elusive reconciliation, protecting the innocents while making sure that only the truly guilty are targeted.
It is no surprise, then, that versions of predictive policing have been adopted (or soon will be) in Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and dozens of other US cities. These programs are finally putting the enticing promises to a real-world test. Based on statistical analysis of crime data and mathematical modelling of criminal activity, predictive policing is intended to forecast where and when crimes will happen. The seemingly unassailable goal is to use resources to fight crime and serve communities most effectively. Police departments and city administrations have welcomed this approach, believing it can substantially cut crime. William Bratton, who in September stepped down as commissioner of New York City’s police department – the nation’s biggest – calls it the future of policing.
“Your honors, in this venue I announce my separation from the United States… both in military and economics also.”Thus Philippines President Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte unleashed a geopolitical earthquake encompassing Eurasia and reverberating all across the Pacific Ocean.And talk about choosing his venue with aplomb; right in the heart of the Rising Dragon, no less.Capping his state visit to Beijing, Duterte then coined the mantra — pregnant with overtones — that will keep ringing all across the global South; “America has lost.”And if that was not enough, he announced a new alliance — Philippines, China and Russia — is about to emerge; “there are three of us against the world.”
Charlie Brooker has always had a cynical eye on the future. His Black Mirror takes place 20 minutes from now, in a world ten degrees more cynical than our own. And this new season has room to explore this darkness—it’s direct to Netflix, with episodes at least an hour long. The season is preoccupied in particular with the parts of our identities we submerge and put in danger in the course of just getting by, and how hard it is to break free of our everyday tech; it’s Black Mirror: Terms and Conditions.But a second thematic thread emerges, particularly through Brooker’s darkest visions, and gets to the heart of what this future is, and who it’s for. Black Mirror is already certain technology is dangerous—that second question is: Are you? Every horror story is both a cautionary tale and an empathy experiment—but an empathy experiment works by forcing you to understand something you hadn’t previously considered. The most revealing part of Black Mirror might be what the show thinks its audience needs to hear, and what it assumes will be news to them.