We humans

What’s better than diamonds, and other need-to-know stories

May 12, 2014 /

Today’s must-read articles from around the web include the minerals that might replace diamonds, why the freelance economy isn’t working, and why the Euro-Twittersphere went wild for a bearded drag queen this weekend.

Diamonds. So yesterday
Who’d want to be a diamond? Joshua Davis announced “the new diamond age” back in 2003, the beginning of a new era in which inexpensive gems indistinguishable from the real thing could be cranked out using mass-production techniques. And things have only gone downhill since then: the stone got modifiers such as “blood” and “conflict” attached to it thanks to Global Witness’ investigations (and Leonardo DiCaprio’s hijinks). And now, New Scientist tells us that two other natural substances are actually way harder than diamond. If scientists can figure out how to reproduce the two minerals in the lab, that’ll pique the interest of industrial drillers who need super-precise cutting tools. Sorry, diamonds.

Exploitation economics
“Media companies, wire services, and agencies are not operating ethically towards the human beings they depend on to supply them their content.” A sobering story depicting the reality of the freelance economy, in this case focused on the plight of those going to great personal risk to report on the situation in places such as Libya or Syria.

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Good work, everybody
Guardian US deputy editor Stuart Millar summed up the Twittersphere’s jubilation at the confluence of equal rights wins this weekend, pairing a snapshot of the AP feed announcing Michael Sam as the NFL’s first openly gay player right next to its anointing bearded drag queen Conchita as winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest (above). It’s easy to poke fun at Eurovision (really, really easy) but still, it was quite a weekend for acceptance. Take a moment and watch Conchita’s performance in all its soft-focus glory.