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The Spy Who Came

The Daily BeastPhoto Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Donald Trump has the power to make me a liar. I said in a post a few months ago, Cheaters Never Prosper that Trump will become our third president to suffer a Senate trial, but I gave a hint of how I think Trump might actually sum up his presidency by noting that Richard Nixon wasn’t ‘impeached’ because he avoided all the unpleasantness at showtime by resigning. I’m sure Donald Trump would’ve thought it insulting to suggest that he resign after his first hundred days, as I did in my post 100 Crazy Nights, but I’d bet he’d take that bargain in a heartbeat now, because that was before we knew about the smokin’ hot Russian spy with an assault rifle: Maria Butina, y’all.

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Cheaters Never Prosper

Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason.

– Sir John Harington, 1618

 

I almost reactivated my Facebook account this week, after Mark Zuckerberg finally admitted that his company was actually in the business of eavesdropping. After the beautiful London Observer piece highlighting Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix caught on video selling his company’s wares (blackmail, ratfucking, extortion, racketeering and money laundering), the same employer of ‘Sloppy’ Steve Bannon (then running the American branch) I really wanted to write that I’d actually reactivated my account after Zuck went on CNN and finally admitted that his company took blood money. This week’s announcement that Facebook was cutting ties with data mining companies is a sign that I might just come back. Zuckerberg said that he wants to be proud of his company going forward because he has two daughters now, as opposed to before when he was an asshole Harvard hacker who cared about nothing except making lots of money.

When I first became aware of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, one fact stood out for me above all others: Zuckerberg was a hacker. Hacker culture is what the internet was all about back in the early days, and tech titans Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were no exception. In screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network (2010), Zuckerberg, Saverin and the Winklevoss brothers were portrayed as savvy hackers without much going on in the way of morals. I suspect the dark score and lighting in the film lends a hint that it was much worse than that. Born as ‘Facesmash’ as a prank by the merry Zuck against his fellow students at Harvard – stealing their identities (or head shots) from the easily hackable Harvard Yearbook Publications computer, a student-run server hosting the earliest editions of the ubiquitous Freshman Register, known by everyone in the first year as ‘The Facebook.’ I’ve always cast a jaundiced eye at those who would just as soon steal your data as look at you. These hacker dweebs, many with tape firmly affixed on glasses, proudly displaying gleaming breast pocket organizers and bad skin are now worth millions. Many of those weenies from the old high school computer club could buy and sell their high schools many times over and some even contribute millions to alumni organizations and philanthropic endeavors, yet most are still just like Martin Shkreli, only nerdier.

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