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Mothers, Daughters, Nationality: The Tombola Of Fate

Our Naples-based psychiatrist thinks about a little girl she met in the rain, one of two sisters burdened with the unfairness of uncaring parents and a struggle with Italian nationality.

Photograph of a person's hand as they set down a number on a tombola board

A woman plays Tombola over coffee

Caffè Izzo/Instagram
Mariateresa Fichele

Last night it was pouring in Naples, and I was stuck waiting out the rain at a supermarket entrance. Next to me was a little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old. A mini lady holding her even smaller sister with her left hand and an enormous shopping bag and umbrella with her right. She seemed to be in a hurry because suddenly she stepped into all that rain, so I held her back.

"Stop, where are you going? It's raining too much! Where do you need to go? I'll go with you; otherwise, how can you handle the umbrella by yourself?"

She looked at me with her big blue eyes, surprised, and bravely replied:

"Ma'am, I need to get to the corner of the street. If you want, you can walk with us!"

So, I took the umbrella and walked with the girls.

"What did you buy?"

"I bought ricotta and pasta, provola cheese, gnocchi, meat, and tomatoes. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to make sauce!"

"Where is your mom? Why isn't she cooking tomorrow?"

"Mom is at home. She's playing tombola (Italian bingo) with her friends, so she'll stay up late tonight. She won’t be able to get up early to make the sauce."

"What about your dad?"

"Ma'am, how should I know? Besides, dad is a man. Men can’t do these things."

When we arrived at her place, a tiny basement, we could hear the women inside drawing numbers.

She looked at me and said:

"Do you want to come in too?"

"No, thank you; I have to go."

"Tell the truth! You're Italian, and you don't like playing tombola!"

This morning, I was thinking about that phrase. By this time, the little girl will already be making the ragù sauce. Indeed, she was right; I hate tombola.

But what I hate the most is the fact that I'm Italian and she's not. Because citizenship alone is not enough to ensure a child's right to be loved and cared for. Many children can't enjoy their childhood in the indifference of all, not just those who play tombola.

And anyway, today, I'll eat gnocchi just like her and her mom. I’ll be hoping that a small gnocchi gets stuck in her mom's throat for a moment, so she feels like choking just long enough for her to come to her senses and realize what a terrible person she is.


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Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A photo of hands holding onto a smartphone

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet.

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification. The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

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Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix, for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

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