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Spotlight: 75 Years After Pearl Harbor

Erika Banoun

U.S.-Japanese relations over the past 75 years is one of history's great tales of decimation and reconciliation. Japan's massive surprise attack on the Hawaiian naval base on Dec. 7, 1941, which led to the American entry in World War II, was at the time unprecedented in the efficiency of its destructive powers. On the "day which will live in infamy," 75 years ago, Japanese air bombers managed to kill more than 2,400 people and virtually wipe out the U.S. fleet in the Pacific in little more than two hours.

Of course, Pearl Harbor is bookended by the far more "efficient" attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ended the war with more than 100,000 dead in two successive instants.

The surrender and subsequent American occupation of Japan, along with massive U.S. investment in rebuilding the Asian island nation, would pave the way for an alliance of enormous economic prosperity. The latter was on full display with the news, touted by President-elect Donald Trump, that Japanese tech giant SoftBank had agreed to invest $50 billion in the U.S., with the goal to create 50,000 new jobs.

But today's anniversary, and all the blood that was shed during the War, is a reminder that prosperity is ultimately most important as a tool for peace. In May, U.S. President Barack Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the first sitting American President to visit the site commemorating the atomic bombings of 1945. This week came the news that, later this month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will become the first Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor. December 7, 1941 may indeed live in infamy, but the day has the power to take on other meanings too.

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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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