Canada

Pluralistic: 28 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 29/03/2020 - 7:33am in

Today's links

  1. Charter techs get $25 gift cards instead of hazard pay: No hand-san or PPE, either.
  2. The Pandemic Playbook: Trump won't rtfm.
  3. Boardgame Remix Kit: Make 26 new games out of Monopoly, Clue, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble sets.
  4. McMansion Hell visits 1972: "Architecture store? I'd like one of everything."
  5. Free Cheapass Games print-and-plays: KILL DOCTOR LUCKY, GIVE ME THE BRAIN, LORD OF THE FRIES, UNEXPLODED COW and so many more!
  6. Trump officials killed Walmart opioid prosecutions: With help from Jones Day.
  7. United gets $25B stimulus and announces layoffs: The biggest corporate giveaway in history.
  8. FLICC vs denialism: A taxonomy of scientific denial, just in time.
  9. This Waifu Does Not Exist: Autogenned anime characters, with backstories.
  10. Fever cameras are garbage: It's the pivot-to-covid for grifty police enablers.
  11. Employers scramble to buy remote-worker spyware: Even if you're paying for the product, you're the product.
  12. Canada Reads Q&A on Apr 23: Unfortunately, it's on Facebook.
  13. Cowboy Economist on covid stimulus: Congress doesn't spend taxes, it spends and then taxes.
  14. 88 Names podcast: Talking VR, AR and gold farming with Matt Ruff.
  15. This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019
  16. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading


Charter techs get $25 gift cards instead of hazard pay (permalink)

My local, unremittingly terrible ISP is Charter. You might remember them as the company whose CEO insisted that all workers, even those who could work from home, show up for work and give each other coronavirus.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/18/diy-tp/#sociopathy

But of course, many of Charter's employees can't work from home: they're coming to our homes, risking potentially lethal infections, to keep our internet running while we're all stuck indoors.

Now, Charter gets incalculable government subsidies (free/low-cost access to rights of way that could not be purchased on the open market) and got billions in tax breaks from Trump (pissed away on stock buybacks).

You'd think they'd have some dough to give to the workers risking their lives to keep the packets flowing.

Think again.

Those workers are getting $25 gift cards in lieu of hazard pay. They're not getting masks or gloves or hand sanitizer.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/amberjamieson/spectrum-workers-coronavirus-gift-cards

Charter spokesapologist Cameron Blanchard insisted that field techs were really happy about this: "The response from the technicians to all our recent changes, along with the gift card gesture has been very positive."

He says they hope to have gloves, masks and hand-sanitizer in the next few weeks.

AT&T is paying techs 20% hazard pay. Charter is sending techs out even for "nonessential" house-calls.


The Pandemic Playbook (permalink)

In The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis describes how the core US civil service is made up of extremely passionate nerds, people who are very smart about their domain of expertise, and work quietly and tirelessly to see policy that comports with evidence.

https://boingboing.net/2018/11/27/homework-vs-public-choice.html

This is what makes them "the reality based community," the term Karl Rove is said to have used to disparage those who claimed (correctly) that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan would be a perpetual, destablizing quagmire.

The thing is, grifting is incompatible with objective truth. The job of a grifter is to tell you his building is ten stories taller than it actually is, that his inauguration crowd was larger than it actually was, that his infomercial service is actually a "university."

The grifter president is surrounded by a grifter upper echelon, sociopaths whose power and wealth derive from lying like crazy and stealing from people. To put it mildly, these people do not value expertise.

That explains a lot about the pandemic. Specifically, why therecommendations in the "Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents" (AKA "the pandemic playbook") were not followed.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/25/trump-coronavirus-national-security-council-149285

This is a 69-page report created by the NSC in 2016. The Obama NSC chief briefed the incoming Trump official on the playbook in 2017, and that official seems to have wiped his ass with it and flushed it.

It literally explains, step by step, how to administer a crisis like this, from the earliest glimmerings that it might occur, right through a full-blown pandemic. It mobilizes resources, identifies shortages, and coordinates comms and strategy. It is, in other words, a meaningful set of steps that the US government could have taken to head off the virus. We taxpayers paid handsomely to develop it. Now we're paying again because Trump ignored it.


Boardgame Remix Kit (permalink)

It's been a decade since Hide & Seek released its absolutely brilliant "Boardgame Remix Kit": rules for new games using tokens and boards from Monopoly, Clue, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble sets.

Now, the 26-part ruleset has been released as a free download for a world of locked-down families looking for ways to entertain themselves. These games are MUCH better than the originals!

https://bgrk.itch.io/


McMansion Hell visits 1972 (permalink)

It's always a great day when McMansion Hell does a new post – and it's a very good day when it's one of her long-ass posts, and it's a very very good day when it's a long post dunking on a shitty 70s McMansion.

https://mcmansionhell.com/post/613784020458913792/the-mcmansion-hell-yearbook-1972

Wagner is working her way through McMansions of the 1970s — proto-McMs, if you will. Last time, it was this rough beast shambling forth from 1971:

https://pluralistic.net/2020/02/26/pluralistic-your-daily-link-dose-26-feb-2020/#morriscounty

Now, she's moved one year forward, to a 4900sqft, $1.13m 4-bedroom in Denton County, TX. Though it's had some 2000s-era renos, there's a lot of 1970s McEnergy shining through in this monstrosity.

This house has got it all: oversized furniture that looks tiny in giant rooms, giant furniture that looks comical in tiny rooms, but best of all is the view from the rear. As Wagner writes, "Hello, Architecture Store? I'll take one of everything, please!"


Free Cheapass Games print-and-plays (permalink)

Back in 1995, James Ernest, a Wizards of the Coast games designer, quit to found his own company, Cheapass Games, whose philosophy was that gamers had plenty of dice and pawns lying around and all they needed to play new games was ingenious rules.

https://cheapass.com/

A quarter century later, Cheapass celebrated with "Cheapass Games in Black and White," a stunning retrospective hardcover with all of its many, many games:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cheapassgames/cheapass-games-in-black-and-white

In celebration of the book, the company released its original games as free, print-and-play downloads: KILL DOCTOR LUCKY, GIVE ME THE BRAIN, LORD OF THE FRIES, UNEXPLODED COW and so many more!

https://cheapass.com/free-games/originals/

This is a serious bounty!


Trump officials killed Walmart opioid prosecutions (permalink)

From 2006-2014, Walmart was America's number one opioid distributor, dispensing millions of lethal doses in response to prescriptions from doctors so obviously crooked that every other pharmacy in America had blacklisted them.

Walmart's own pharmacists begged HQ for permission to blacklist these docs, but these pleas were refused by top execs who told them they should focus on "driving sales."

The DEA was all set to criminally and civilly charge Walmart, a one-two combo that took account of the fact that the company has gigantic cash reserves that would be barely scratched even by a very large fine.

Walmart, in turn, hired the notorious enablers of Jones Day, a giant corporate lawfirm whose partners were hired in great numbers to serve in Trump's DoJ. Walmart's internal and external legal teams are well-stocked with ex-DoJ top officials.

Trump appointees, working with these revolving-door types, killed the criminal charges against Walmart, despite the massive trove of evidence showing that the company deliberately – and for years – knowingly peddled opioids to people whose lives were at risk from them.

Top Trump DoJ brass refused to help prosecutors force Walmart to comply with subpoenas, then ordered prosecutors to drop the criminal charges, and kept setting up long delays for civil court cases, allowing the statute of limitations to run out for many of Walmart's murders.

Now the civil suit is in "negotiations" for a wrist-slap. The DoJ lost prosecutors whose stinging resignation letters reveal that they were disgusted with impunity for well-connected corporate murderers.

The coverage in Propublica is amazing: they have the receipts – internal Walmart, DoJ and Trump administration memos – even Ivanka's work laundering Walmart's reputation even as prosecutors were trying to wring settlements out of the company.

https://www.propublica.org/article/walmart-was-almost-charged-criminally-over-opioids-trump-appointees-killed-the-indictment


United gets $25B stimulus and announces layoffs (permalink)

The covid stimulus is gonna put cash in the hands of people reeling from economic collapse, which is important, but it's also putting trillions into corporate coffers, which is why AOC called it "shameful."

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/489863-ocasio-cortez-blasts-22t-coronavirus-stimulus-package-as-shameful-on-house

AOC: "One of the largest corporate bailouts with as few strings as possible in American history. Shameful! The greed of that fight is wrong for crumbs for our families."

Congress is politely asking the bailed out companies to forebear on layoffs, but if the companies renege on that, their public-money gift turns into a super-low-interest loan, and their workers are out on their asses.

In fact, many of those companies (the ones that sell bonds to the USG instead of getting loans) can use public money to pay dividends to shareholders, cash out top execs, and STILL lay off workers

https://twitter.com/MarcusMStanley/status/1243597976381120514

Would companies do that? Seems likely: "Over the past 2 years, corporate America has engaged in an unprecedented orgy of capital payouts to shareholders – S&P 500 companies paid out $2.6 trillion, or almost 7% of GDP, to shareholders over those two years" -Marcus Stanley

United didn't wait until the ink was dry. As soon as they were guaranteed $25B in government handouts, they announced layoffs effective after the Sept 30 penalty period is over.

https://twitter.com/matthewstoller/status/1243626367092219905

"Congress is full of a bunch of fucking morons." -Matt Stoller


FLICC vs denialism (permalink)

Since 2013, John Cook has been researching and speaking on countering scientific denial, using the FLICC model: "Fake experts, Logical fallacies, Impossible expectations, Cherry picking, and Conspiracy theories."

https://crankyuncle.com/a-history-of-flicc-the-5-techniques-of-science-denial/

Since then, the model has grown in sophistication, through collaboration with Cook's colleagues on a mobile game called "Cranky Uncle" where "cartoons and gameplay interactively explain denial techniques used to cast doubt on climate science."

https://crankyuncle.com/game/

The new, more granular version of FLICC comes together in a three-part, must-watch video series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjtMDtA0N7Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk4RyUUFxdE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtFGN6B8lfg

As right-wing strongmen have leaned into virus denial as a way of buoying up the stock market, risking lives at genocidal scale, we are locked in a new life-or-death battle over evidence, reality and expertise. This is very timely indeed.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2020/march/brazil-undone


This Waifu Does Not Exist (permalink)

A recent addition to the genre of semi-lucid media created by Generative Adversarial Networks is "This Waifu Does Not Exist," which creates very plausible anime faces accompanied by much less plausible storylines for those characters.

https://www.gwern.net/TWDNE

The creator used the Danbooru2017/​Danbooru2018 corpus, "~2.5tb of 3.33m images with 92.7m tag instances (of 365k defined tags, ~27.8/image) covering Danbooru 2005-2018"

The images and text generated by the system are CC0.

https://www.gwern.net/Danbooru2019#danbooru2018

I can't stop hitting reload:

https://www.thiswaifudoesnotexist.net/


Fever cameras are garbage (permalink)

Grifters gonna grift, part MMMCCCLII: those "fever detection" cameras don't detect fevers, and also rely on super-dodgy facial recognition and other techniques to accuse people of having fevers.

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/fever-detection-cameras-fight-coronavirus-experts-say-they-don-t-n1170791

Even if they did work, they'd only catch symptomatic people, and of course, the thing that makes covid so dangerous is that most people who have it are asymptomatic. Looking for fevers is the epidemiological equivalent of searching for your car keys under a lamppost because it's too dark to search where you dropped 'em.

The cameras are a covid-pivot for the scummiest CCTV/predictive policing/bootlicker/arms dealer companies serving American police forces, who generally get to buy this stuff without public notice or oversight.

And while covid makes the usual police procurement procedures (like lavish meals and free massages at trade shows) unavailable, I'll bet a testicle* that there are some high-dollar "incentives" changing hands with the cops writing the checks here.

*Not one of mine

(Image: Moses, CC BY, modified)


Employers scramble to buy remote-worker spyware (permalink)

Apparently we're all in this together, which is why your employer expects you to turn your home into a satellite office for free.

https://www.wired.com/beyond-the-beyond/2020/03/turn-quarantined-home-employers-remote-office/

But that solidarity is firmly unidirectional: your boss doesn't trust you to work from his rent-free satellite office (your spare room/kitchen/garage) without slacking, which is why employers are binge-spending on remote spyware:

https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2020-03-27/coronavirus-work-from-home-privacy

These are tools that watch your every keystroke and peer endlessly at you from your webcam to monitor your activity, even as your browser traffic (on that internet connection you're paying for) is surveilled, analyzed and logged.

Naturally, the CEOs and top managers who require you to install this stuff don't have to run it on their computers for their Boards of Directors to monitor.

It's a neat example of two dystopian technological principles: first, it epitomizes the shitty tech adoption curve – the idea that our worst tech is perfected and normalized by imposing it on powerless people, and then new generations are visited upon ever-more-powerful people.

This kind of remote monitoring software started off as a way for parents to spy on their kids, then became a tool for educational institutions to use for remote-proctoring of exams, then a way for prospective employers to conduct job interview tests.

From little kids to university students to jobseekers — now it's white-collar workers. That's a pretty steep shitty tech adoption curve right there.

But it also illustrates the fallacy that "if you're not paying for the product, you're the product." The reality is, "If a corporation can turn you into the product, you're the product, even if you're paying."

The John Deere tractors that farmers have to pay huge fees to have authorized service for, even for repairs they could make themselves? They're not ad-supported freemiums: they're six-figure industrial equipment.

Likewise, Apple doesn't mine your Iphone data, but it sure as fuck extracts monopoly rents from you by selling access to you through its mandatory App Store to software developers, and forcing you to use authorized Apple service and parts.

The idea that "surveillance capitalism" is an epiphenomenon of "surveillance" and not of "capitalism" is a fallacy. Shareholder neoliberal capitalism is just sociopathy with spreadsheets. Companies spy on you because they can, not because you're not paying them.

Your employer expects rent-free facilities and free capex that comes out of your pocket and it expects to spy on you.

The reason they expect that is that you're not in a union and labor protection is weak and the job market is cratering, so they know you have no choice.

Anything we do to poor people and powerless people in this pandemic will be done to rich people within a decade. Remember that the next time you think, "Well, at least it's not happening to me."

(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY, modified)


Canada Reads Q&A on Apr 23 (permalink)

I'm a zuckervegan: No Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp. But you gotta meet people where they are, not where you wish they were.

That's why I signed up to do CBC's Canada Reads Facebook live event, with some support from the CBC:

https://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads/ask-the-canada-reads-authors-your-questions-live-on-facebook-1.5512394

On Apr 23 at 2PM Eastern, you can read into a pre-written Q&A with me about my Canada Reads finalist Radicalized on the Canada Reads FB group, and I'll be online from 2PM-3PM, on a phone-link with a CBCer who will relay your questions to me and post my answers to the forum.

I hope those of you who aren't yet zuckervegans will tune in, and then immediately resign from all Facebook products (or at least think about why you're using them). And don't worry if you ARE a zuckervegan: we'll post the Q&A on the actual internet afterwards.


Cowboy Economist on covid stimulus (permalink)

I love The Cowboy Economist, economist JT Harvey's drawling alter-ego who explains Modern Monetary Theory using hilarious old west metaphors:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL9PHjlPQ5wq0CD6vAibxYg

He's just released a covid stimulus episode called "Paying COVID-19 to go away," explaining how Congress could find trillions in the sofa cushions without insisting that the money first be paid into its coffers through taxation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uf6pMuDCwI

It's 3.5 minutes well spent. Tldr: Congress spends money first, then taxes it back. It doesn't need to tax us to pay for services any more than Starbucks needs to wait until you've cashed in your gift card before it can issue one to me.


88 Names podcast (permalink)

The brilliant writer Matt Ruff just published a new heist novel about gold-farming and MMORPGs called 88 NAMES that's like Snow Crash meets The King and I:

https://boingboing.net/2020/03/17/3d-gen-gold-farmers.html

Matt's doing a podcast about the book with Blake Collier, and I appeared in the latest episode:

https://www.riseupdaily.com/88namespodcast/2020/03/28/episode-3/

We cover a lot of ground: "the state of tech and how it influences everything from economics to the environment, how fiction shapes VR and AR tech and closed tech systems like Apple…We dive deep on some philosophical and technical ideas."

I hope you'll listen, but even more, I hope you'll read Matt's book. It's outstanding.

Direct MP3 link:

https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/88namespod/88_Names_Podcast_–_Cory_Doctorow_mixdown.mp3


This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago McD's will pay rappers for name-checking Big Macs https://web.archive.org/web/20050406032453/http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/294121p-251806c.html

#15yrsago Mark Cuban will fund Grokster's legal battle https://web.archive.org/web/20050601000000*/https://blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000230037801/

#10yrsago UK government wants to secretly read your postal mail https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/henryporter/2010/mar/27/intercepting-mail-stasi-tax-inspectors

#10yrsago UK government's smoke-filled room legislative process https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/mar/28/pre-election-parliamentary-wash-up

#10yrsago Douglas Adams lecture https://www.ted.com/talks/douglas_adams_parrots_the_universe_and_everything

#10yrsago Battlefield Earth screenwriter apologises https://web.archive.org/web/20100424024934/http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/penned_the_suckiest_movie_ever_sorry_MdXedZpTMWJmfpw80Xc7aO/0

#5yrsago Prisoner escapes by faking an email ordering his release https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-32095189

#5yrsago What it's like to teach evolution at the University of Kentucky https://orionmagazine.org/article/defending-darwin/

#1yrago How hedge funds, Goldman Sachs, and corrupt executives used Gymboree's chaotic bankruptcy to cash out while destroying the careers of loyal employees https://theintercept.com/2019/03/25/gymboree-bankruptcy-severance-scam/

#1yrago AOC is going to Appalachia to talk to coal miners https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article228488679.html

#1yrago Millennials are killing McMansions https://www.businessinsider.com.au/millennials-vs-baby-boomers-big-houses-real-estate-market-problems-2019-3

#1yrago Sting operation: the NRA explains to white nationalist Australian political party how to deflect gun control calls after a massacre https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/sell-massacre-nra-playbook-revealed-190325111828105.html


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Vinay Gupta (https://twitter.com/leashless, Kottke (https://kottke.org), Stefan Jones (https://twitter.com/StefanEJones), Slashdot (Slashdot), Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/), Beyond the Beyond (http://www.wired.com/category/beyond_the_beyond/).

Currently writing: I'm getting geared up to start work my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Data – the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill? https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/23/data-the-new-oil-or-potential-for-a-toxic-oil-spill/

Upcoming appearances:

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_medium=socialpost&utm_term=na-poesycorypreorder&utm_content=na-preorder-buynow&utm_campaign=9781626723627

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250757531

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commerically, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to pluralistic.net.

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When live gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

Pluralistic: 26 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/03/2020 - 1:17am in

Today's links

  1. EFF's videoconferencing backgrounds: With a deep cut from the NSA's secret listening post.
  2. The ideology of economics: Economics doesn't have "laws" it has "policies."
  3. LoC plugs Little Brother: Open access FTW.
  4. Canada nationalizes covid patents: An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19.
  5. Exponential Threat: Trump threatened to sue media outlets that aired this spot.
  6. Sanders on GOP stimulus cruelty: "Millions for plutes, but not one cent for workers."
  7. Record wind-power growth: Covid stimulus could start a Green New Deal.
  8. Social distancing and other diseases: Do we trust IoT thermometer companies, though?
  9. Badger Masks: UW Madison's open facemask design.
  10. This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019
  11. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading


EFF's videoconferencing backgrounds (permalink)

Telework is a quiet reminder that we live, in some sense, in an age of wonders. As terrible as lockdown is, imagine it without any way to videoconference with your peers and colleagues.

But it's also a moment where we tremble on the precipice of cyberpunk dystopia, when calls for mass surveillance – both for epidemiology and stabilizing states that are bruised and reeling – meet a world where everything is online and amenable to "collection" by spooks.

This is, basically, the moment that EFF has been warning about for 30 years: the moment when the "digital world" and the "real world" fully merge, and where the distinction between "tech policy" and "policy" dissolves.

One way you can help keep this in your colleagues' minds is to use EFF's amazing, free/open graphics as your videoconferencing background (most of these are the creation of the brilliant Hugh D'Andrade).

Now, those are all great, but this one is Room 641A at AT&T's Folsom Street center, where the whistleblower Mark Klein was ordered to build a secret room so the NSA could illegally spy on all US internet traffic.


The ideology of economics (permalink)

Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century" advanced a simple, data-supported hypothesis: that markets left to their own will cause capital to grow faster than the economy as a whole, so over time, the rich always get richer.

https://boingboing.net/2014/06/24/thomas-pikettys-capital-in-t.html

He's followed up Capital with the 1000-page "Capital and Ideology" – whose thesis is that the "laws" of economics are actually policies, created to "justify a society's inequalities," providing a rationale to convince poor people not to start building guillotines.

The first ideology of capital was the "trifunctional" system of monarchist France, dividing society into "those who pray," "those who fight," and "those who work."

After the French revolution, we enter the capitalist phase, then social democracies, and now, "meritocracies."

"Meritocracies" invest markets with the mystical power to identify and elevate the worthy, in a kind of tautology: those who have the most are worth the most. You can tell they're worth the most because they have the most.

("That makes me smart" -D. Trump)

In Piketty's conception, "Inequality is neither economic nor technological. It's ideological and political," where "ideology" "refers to a set of a priori plausible ideas describing how society should be structured" (think: Overton Window).

https://bostonreview.net/class-inequality/marshall-steinbaum-thomas-piketty-takes-ideology-inequality

The major part of the book seeks to explain how the post-war social democracies gave way to the grifter meritocracies of today, pulling together threads from across the whole world to tell the tale.

On the way, he described alternatives that were obliterated, and others that were never tried, and shows how "meritocracy" gave us Trump, xenophobia, Brexit, and the Current Situation.

In particular, he's interested in why working class people stopped voting (spoiler: they no longer perceive that elites will pay attention to them irrespective of how they vote) — and what it would take to mobilize them again.

The elites' indifference to working people is grounded in an alliance between the Brahmin Left (educated, well-paid liberals) and the Merchant Right (the finance sector). Notionally leftist parties, like the Democrats, are dominated by the Brahmin Left.

But more than any other, Macron epitomizes this alliance: proclaiming his liberal values while slashing taxes on the wealthy — punishing poor people for driving cars, exempting private jets from his "climate" bill.

Life in a "meritocracy" is especially cruel for poor people, because meritocracies, uniquely among ideologies, blame poor people for poverty. It's right there in the name. French kings didn't think God was punishing peons, rather, that the Lord had put them there to serve.

"The broadly social-democratic redistributive coalitions of the mid-twentieth century were not just electoral or institutional or party coalitions but also intellectual and ideological. The battle was fought and won above all on the battleground of ideas."

As Marshall Steinbaum writes in his excellent review, Piketty's work doesn't just highlight new ideas in economics: it highlights the intellectual poverty of the economics profession and its tunnel vision.

"Economists cannot be allowed to be the arbiters of the intensely political concerns Piketty takes up in the book, and the good news is that there is reason to believe they won't be."


LoC plugs Little Brother (permalink)

Honored and pleased to have my book Little Brother included on the Library of Congress's excellent collection of open-access ebooks in its collection, which you can always access gratis but which may be of especial interest during the lockdown.

https://blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2020/03/more-open-ebooks-routinizing-open-access-ebook-workflows/

If you enjoyed Little Brother and its sequel Homeland, you might be interested in the third Little Brother book, Attack Surface, which Tor is publishing on Oct 12.

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250757531

If you're looking for more topical reading, Infodocket's carefully curated list of coronavirus resources is here for you:

https://www.infodocket.com/2020/01/31/2019-novel-coronavirus-resources/


Canada nationalizes covid patents (permalink)

Canada's Parliament has passed Bill C13, "An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19," amending patent law to create automatic compulsory licenses for any inventionused to fight covid, including diagnostics, vaccines, therapies or PPE.

https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-1/bill/C-13/third-reading

As E Richard Gold writes, it's an "important signal that Canada will not support IP delays…While most firms are helping find solutions, this will prevent those who try to take advantage-by raising prices or limiting supply-or those who cannot deliver to block what is needed."


Exponential Threat (permalink)

"Exponential Threat" is a remarkable – and factual – political ad, one that contrasts Trump's statements on coronavirus with the spread of the disease in America.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkMwvmJLnc0

More remarkable: Trump has threatened to sue the media for airing it, which is a totally cool and normal thing for someone who has sworn a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to do.

https://assets.donaldjtrump.com/2017/web/hero_images/Redacted_PUSA_Letter.pdf

"In case you needed more, here's an (admittedly incomplete) list of Trump statements on the novel coronavirus and COID-19"

http://www.joeydevilla.com/2020/03/25/exponential-threat-the-covid-19-themed-ad-that-the-trump-pence-campaign-doesnt-want-you-to-see/


Sanders on GOP stimulus cruelty (permalink)

This Bernie Sanders floor speech in the Senate on the GOP's relentless attempts to punish poor people in the covid relief package is a must-watch

https://www.reddit.com/r/SandersForPresident/comments/fp3my0/bernie_goes_full_sanders_on_the_republicans_for/

tldr: GOP Senators are freaking out because some people in line to get the pittances they're doling out actually earn EVEN LESS than $1k-2k/month, and so they might get a raise in the form of covid relief.

That is, rather than taking the fact that this bare-minimum subsidy package exceeds "normal" income as a wakeup call to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 2009, the GOP is calling for cuts to aid to the most vulnerable Americans.

As Sanders points out, these same Senators had no problem with the Tax Scam, which poured trillions into the accounts of the richest Americans, directly and indirectly through stock-buybacks, which also left US business vulnerable and in need of trillions more today.

Now those bailed-out plutes want workers to risk death to "restart the economy," and the GOP will ensure they'll starve if they don't.

As ever, The Onion nails it:

https://politics.theonion.com/gop-urges-end-of-quarantine-for-lifeless-bipedal-automa-1842461351

"GOP Urges End Of Quarantine For Lifeless Bipedal Automatons That Make Economy Go"


Record wind-power growth (permalink)

As the world's wind-generation capacity increases, you'd expect annual growth to fall proportionately (it's easier to double a very small number than a very big one!), but this year should see the largest proportional growth ever, a 20% increase!

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/25/worlds-wind-power-capacity-up-by-fifth-after-record-year

That number is uncertain (hello, coronavirus), but on the other hand, there's a massive stimulus package in the offing that could be used to restart the economy by saving the planet with renewable energy.

The non-adjusted, pre-virus projection for this year's total growth in wind power was an additional 76GW (to meet climate projections, that number has to rise to 100GW/year, and then to 200GW/year).


Social distancing and other diseases (permalink)

Though the evidence is a little shaky, it appears that social distancing has dramatically reduced the spread of other infectious diseases, like flu.

https://qz.com/1824020/social-distancing-slowing-not-only-covid-19-but-other-diseases-too/

The data comes from an Internet of Shit "connected thermometer" company that (allegedly) anonymizes its data and uses it for health surveillance; they report a massive drop-off in high temps relative to other years and pre-distancing levels.

The claims are plausible, but they're also an ad for an IoT company that sells a product no one needs, so take them with a grain of salt.

I'd be interested in STI transmission after weeks/months of government-recommended masturbation-over-hookups:

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/covid-sex-guidance.pdf


Badger Masks (permalink)

A local hospital asked researchers at the UW Madison Engineering Design Innovation Lab to design them a field-expedient face-shield that could be mass-manufactured to protect its staff from coming cases.

https://www.wired.com/story/tinkerers-created-face-shield-being-used-hospitals/

Using hardware-store parts, the UW makerspace, and teleconferencing with self-isolating collaborators, the team designed an excellent mask, the Badger Shield:

https://making.engr.wisc.edu/shield/

They've manufactured and delivered 1,000 Badger Masks to the hospital and a Ford plant in MI is making 75,000 more this week for Detroit-area hospitals. Here's a technical spec you can follow if you have access to equipment and parts:

https://www.delve.com/assets/documents/OPEN-SOURCE-FACE-SHIELD-DRAWING-v1.PDF

It involves just 3 pieces: polyethylene sheets (laser- or die-cut), an elastic headband, and a 1" thick strip of self-adhesive polyurethane foam. For initial production, Midwest Prototyping used office-supply-store electric staplers for assembly.

The design process started with a teardown of an existing, approved mask, and the project lead, Lennon Rodgers, worked with collaborators to replicate it, sanity-checking successive designs with his wife, an anaesthesiologist.

They started hand-delivering prototypes to the hospital, who refined the design further, swapping in latex-free elastic and lengthening the shield. Tim Osswald from UW used his polymer engineering expertise to find a supplier who could create a custom die.

Now, more than 1M Badger Masks have been sought, with manufacturers like St Paul's Summit Medical tooling up to meet demand.

Other designs are popping up across America. San Francisco's Exploratorium is making 200+ shields/day using its own makerspace.


This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago If the Constitution was a EULA https://web.archive.org/web/20050330012000/http://slate.msn.com/id/2115254/

#10yrsgo Discarded photocopier hard drives stuffed full of corporate secrets https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2010/03/18/hightech_copy_machines_a_gold_mine_for_data_thieves.html

#5yrsago TPP leak: states give companies the right to repeal nations' laws https://wikileaks.org/tpp-investment/press.html

#5yrsago Woman medicated in a psychiatric ward until she said Obama didn't follow her on Twitter https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/woman-held-in-psychiatric-ward-after-correctly-saying-obama-follows-her-on-twitter-10132662.html

#5yrsago Sandwars: the mafias whose illegal sand mines make whole islands vanish https://www.wired.com/2015/03/illegal-sand-mining/

#5yrsago Australia outlaws warrant canaries https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/03/australian-government-minister-dodge-new-data-retention-law-like-this/

#5yrsago As crypto wars begin, FBI silently removes sensible advice to encrypt your devices https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150325/17430330432/fbi-quietly-removes-recommendation-to-encrypt-your-phone-as-fbi-director-warns-how-encryption-will-lead-to-tears.shtml

#1yrago Article 13 will wreck the internet because Swedish MEPs accidentally pushed the wrong voting button https://medium.com/@emanuelkarlsten/sweden-democrats-swedish-social-democrats-defeat-motion-to-amend-articles-11-13-731d3c0fbf30

#1yrago EU's Parliament Signs Off on Disastrous Internet Law: What Happens Next? https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/03/eus-parliament-signs-disastrous-internet-law-what-happens-next


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Slashdot (https://slashdot.org/), Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/), Late Stage Capitalism (https://www.reddit.com/r/LateStageCapitalism/).

Currently writing: I'm getting geared up to start work my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Data – the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill? https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/23/data-the-new-oil-or-potential-for-a-toxic-oil-spill/

Upcoming appearances:

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_medium=socialpost&utm_term=na-poesycorypreorder&utm_content=na-preorder-buynow&utm_campaign=9781626723627

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250757531

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commerically, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to pluralistic.net.

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When live gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

A letter to the Canadian Prime Minister, with two suggestions for next steps in dealing with #COVID19

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 6:58am in

Prime Minister,

I certainly hope you and yours are well.

I was in New York City up until last weekend. Earlier in the previous week the university where I work announced that it was moving all courses online, and closing the campus. There was really no further need for me to stay in the City, but my initial thought was to wait it out, and decide later on when to return to Canada.

I started to have second thoughts when a student emailed me for advice just after President Trump announced that travel from Europe to the United States would be banned. He’s from Mexico, and said that he trusted the Mexican health care system more than the American, and wanted my advice on whether he should return home.

If that wasn’t enough to give me pause, when I saw the twitter feed of the Minister of Foreign Affairs  on Saturday evening recommending “that Canadian travellers return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available” I immediately bought myself a ticket for a next day flight to Canada. I arrived last Sunday evening, and have been in self-isolation since. I’m glad to be home given the events of the last week.

It is certainly time for government to step up, and history will judge the fall out of this pandemic in terms of how well societies govern themselves: professionally and efficiently, scientifically and socially, and with a sense of reciprocity and trust that strengthens community. I hope you and your cabinet take to heart a message that one of my colleagues has written in an article called “The Real Pandemic Danger Is Social Collapse.”

… the main (perhaps even the sole) objective of economic policy today should be to prevent social breakdown. Advanced societies must not allow economics, particularly the fortunes of financial markets, to blind them to the fact that the most important role economic policy can play now is to keep social bonds strong under this extraordinary pressure.

Good governance, not just a good health care system, is one of the reasons I’m glad to be home. I have been watching your daily press briefings with a good deal of admiration. And I am also impressed with both the design and speed with which the government has been able to roll out the package of reforms earlier this week, an effort that has no doubt been supported by legions of professional public servants working around the clock.

You promised that these reforms are just the first step in a fast moving and dynamic situation. I can’t pretend to understand the complete situation, hardly have full information, and can’t offer wide-ranging suggestions on what the next steps might be. But here are two suggestions that come from my limited areas of expertise.

 

First, about information and testing. I appreciate that a good deal of testing has to do with the medical priorities of diagnosis and appropriate triage, only testing those with risk factors, like international travel and showing symptoms. That may be appropriate from a medical stand point in the context of possibility limited test kits and personnel.

But testing only those most likely to be ill is not appropriate as a source of information for broader decision making engaging the Prime Minister’s Office. The Economist magazine had a nice article in its February 29th edition describing the challenges of getting information on the incidence of infection and mortality rates from test samples that are selected in this way. Knowing where you are in flattening the curve is going to much more challenging with selected rather than random samples.


Source: https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/02/29/covid-19-is-now-in-50-countries-and-things-will-get-worse

You might consider a way to randomly test samples of individuals in the provinces and health areas to get data representative of the population, information from a continually rolling daily sample of thousands of Canadians. This will become all the more important in understanding the degree to which there is community spreading, and give your office more accurate estimates of incidence and how it is changing. As you well know, good information is the first ingredient in a professional scientific approach to taking the next steps.

Second, let me restrict particular policy suggestions to Employment Insurance, because that is what I know about. In a sense the need for these reforms shows us where our social safety net is knitted most thinly, and next steps should be conducted not just for short term patch-ups, but with an eye toward making the system more effective in the longer term.

As I mentioned, I was impressed with the package that came out, particularly the attempt to cover people who will not be EI eligible through the new Emergency Support Benefit. A sad failing of the EI program has long been the relatively small fraction of unemployed population who are actually covered. In 2018 only about 64% of the unemployed had contributed to the program, and were potentially eligible to receive benefits. There used to be provisions in the program for labour market re-entrants and job quitters, and you might rethink their eligibility.

A lack of coverage hurts, and will continue to hurt into the future when you are likely to unroll the Emergency Support Benefit.

Unemployment Insurance was always meant to be an insurance program for big social risks, exactly of the kind we are now facing. In the early 1970s Canadians had a much more generous program, broader coverage, more generous and longer benefits, but it was progressively chipped away at in the name of deficit fighting and work incentives.

In normal times, when jobs are to be had, the program’s design certainly does need to keep work incentive effects in mind. That is why we have a waiting period. That is why there is a maximum insurable earnings set modestly at around the overall average earnings. That is why benefits are only paid to 55% of insurable earnings. That is why the duration of benefits is limited.

But all of these design features intended to keep work disincentives in check, now hamper the program’s effectiveness in being an income replacement tool when there is no work to be had, or in fact to be discouraged.

These are not normal times, and in some sense we want Canadians to work less while giving them timely and generous income support. The government has recognized this by eliminating the waiting period. So what is the logic of holding on to the other co-insurance features of the program?

You should significantly increase the maximum insurable earnings—which is currently just above $54,000–by at least half to $75,000 so that more Canadians will see all or a larger fraction of their earnings covered.

You should increase the benefit rate from 55% to at least 75% or even higher. In fact, there is a precedent to be found in the unemployment insurance in the 1970s, which had a replacement rate as high as 75% for certain lower income populations.

You should move the eligibility rule for all regions to the least stringent requirement that now exists for any region. This is important because the eligibility rule adjusts relatively slowly to fast changing conditions, as it is determined by an average of the past three months of unemployment rates in the region. So it is inherently backward looking, and won’t pick up the dramatic changes that are occurring now for at least a couple of months.

For now you should continue to maintain the maximum duration of benefits, and adopt a wait-and-see approach. When people come close to exhausting benefits you will know about it, and can increase the duration at that time if necessary.

Finally, in the last recession during 2008 the work-sharing part of EI worked well to help reduce layoffs. This could be leaned on more aggressively, and relaxed to recognize that we want workers to be attached to their employers, but don’t necessarily want as much work sharing as we normally would.

I hope in some small way this is of help. You, yourself, said in one of your first press briefings this past week that these new reforms should be particularly addressed to the least advantaged. To be without work raises insecurity, and even questions dignity, and good governance is, in the first instance, about reinforcing a grand insurance scheme, that shares risks, binds us together, and gives us all the assurance that together we are taking the right steps in the right direction.

Pluralistic: 19 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 3:05am in

Today's links

  1. The worst Democrat in Congress just lost his job: Dan Lipinski primaried by the amazing Marie Newman.
  2. Canada Reads documentary on Radicalized: The Great Canadian Book debate is indefinitely postponed, but here's an hour on my book!
  3. Africa's Facebook modders are world leaders: Technological self-determination through adversarial interoperability.
  4. Imagineering in a Box: Interdisciplinary theme park design lessons from Khan Academy and Disney.
  5. Data is the New Toxic Waste: It was never "the new oil."
  6. How to structure a fair covid bailout: Stimulus, not private jets.
  7. Fox News is a suicide cult: Telling your elderly viewers to perform tribal loyalty by engaging in high-risk behaviors is a career-limiting move.
  8. Grocery supply chains are resilient: One less thing to worry about.
  9. Magic in the time of coronavirus: Never let a good crisis go to waste, card-trick edition.
  10. This day in history: 2010, 2019
  11. Colophon: Recent publications, current writing projects, upcoming appearances, current reading


The worst Democrat in Congress just lost his job (permalink)

Congress's worst Democrat is Dan Lipinski, a corrupt, anti-abortion, corporatist, gunhumping asshole in a safe seat that he inherited from his father in 2004, who handed it to him after nominations had closed, bypassing the semblance of democracy.

https://theintercept.com/2018/01/29/dan-lipinski-illinois-3rd-district-marie-newman/

He's a homophobic bigot who opposed the $15 minimum wage and allowed the rail-barons who fund his campaign to dismantle safety regulations.

He was primaried by Marie Newman (I'm a donor!) whose campaign was vicious sabotaged by the DNC.

https://theintercept.com/2019/04/26/dccc-blacklist-marie-newman-dan-lipinski/

Despite this, Marie Newman successfully primaried this piece of shit.

Like AOC's seat, Newman's is a very safe one, meaning she's all but guaranteed to go to Congress in November.


Canada Reads documentary on Radicalized (permalink)

The Canada Reads national book prize is indefinitely postponed, thanks to covid. In lieu of the televised debates originally scheduled for this week, the CBC is airing one-hour specials on each book, including mine, Radicalized.

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-6-canada-reads/clip/15766247-canada-reads-2020-special-episode-radicalized-by-cory-doctorow

If you're jonesing for The Great Canadian Book Debate, you can fill the gap with the whole series:

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-6-canada-reads


Africa's Facebook modders are world leaders (permalink)

In most of Africa, the most popular app by far is WhatsApp, and unofficial WhatsApp mods – including one that started life as a Syrian alternative at the height of its civil war – are offering local tools for local contexts.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/03/african-whatsapp-modders-are-masters-worldwide-adversarial-interoperability

"Nothing about us without us" has been a rallying cry for many movements, most recently the disability rights movement. Coders working for a Silicon Valley Big Tech firm shouldn't have the last work on how apps work for people half a world away.

The big WhatsApp mods accommodate lots of local needs: larger groups and filesizes, better privacy protection, multiple accounts on a single device.

But it's also hard to find reliable mods, because FB used legal threats to shut down the largest, most popular one.

Ironically, this has driven peer-to-peer app sharing, where people you trust will directly send the app from their phone to yours, assuring you that they haven't detected any spyware. That's just great.

What would be even better is if local coders could dismantle FB's digital colonialism and market their improved apps directly, come out of the shadows without fear of retaliation by distant juggernauts who want to capture "the next billion users" and own their digital lives.

The history of Adversarial Interoperability is full of users modifying their tools to improve them. Before John Deere was a monopolistic copyright troll, it used to send engineers out to farms to collect and integrate farmers' mods into its products.

https://securityledger.com/2019/03/opinion-my-grandfathers-john-deere-would-support-our-right-to-repair/

Every human being should have the right of technological self-determination: the right to decide which tools they use, and to change how those tools work to suit their own needs.


Imagineering in a Box (permalink)

Imagineering in a Box is a joint project from Khan Academy, Pixar and Disney Imagineering. It's a series of interactive lessons and lectures on designing themed spaces, rides to go in those spaces, and animatronics to go in those rides.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/hass-storytelling/imagineering-in-a-box

It's interdisciplinary: land design is meant to be undertaken with physical materials, ride design uses art and math, and animatronic design is robotics – mechanical engineering and software development.


Data is the New Toxic Waste (permalink)

In a new article for Kaspersky, I argue that data was never "the new oil" – instead, it was always the new toxic waste: "pluripotent, immortal – and impossible to contain."

https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/secure-futures-magazine/data-new-toxic-waste/34184/

Data breaches are inevitable (any data you collect will probably leak; any data you retain will definitely leak) and cumulative (your company's data breach can be combined with each subsequent attack to revictimize your customers). Identity thieves benefit enormously from cheap storage, and they collect, store and recombine every scrap of leaked data. Merging multiple data sets allows for reidentification of "anonymized" data, and it's impossible to predict which sets will leak in the future.

These nondeterministic harms have so far protected data-collectors from liability, but that can't last. Toxic waste also has nondeterministic harms (we never know which bit of effluent will kill which person), but we still punish firms that leak it.

Waiting until the laws change to purge your data is a bad bet – by then, it may be too late. All the data your company collects and retains represents an unquantifiable, potentially unlimited source of downstream liability.

What's more, you probably aren't doing anything useful with it. The companies that make the most grandiose claims about data analytics are either selling analytics or data (or both). These claims are sales literature, not peer-reviewed citations to empirical research.

Data is cheap to collect and store – if you don't have to pay for the chaos it sows when it leaks. And some day, we will make data-hoarders pay.


How to structure a fair covid bailout (permalink)

It's a foregone conclusions that there will be a bailout. My first worry is that it will be inflationary, because production has ground to a halt. More dollars chasing fewer goods — not good.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/18/diy-tp/#covid-stimulus

But there's another risk, which is that it will just go to the finance sector, who will use it to buy private jets and political influence, repeating the 2008 pattern.

https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/how-to-structure-the-coronavirus

Financialization is how the economy got so fragile in the first place. Leveraged buyouts, debt-loading, payoffs for layoffs, looting corporate cash reserves, selling assets and spiking executive competition made companies brittle. As Matt Stoller writes, financialization's goal "is to eliminate production in favor of scalable profitable things like brands, patents, and tax loopholes, because producers – engineers, artists, workers – are cost centers."

Bush/Obama had huge leverage over corporations during their bailout, but they squandered it by making companies subservient to finance, instead of public priorities, workers' rights, or a fair deal for customers.

We must not repeat that blunder. Any company that gets a covid bailout should:

  • be permanently banned from buybacks, and banned from dividends for 5 years. Companies need to restore their financial cushions.
  • have their share price zeroed. Shareholders aren't getting a bailout. They "took the risk and upside, they should get the downside too."
  • have limits on executive comp. Tax dollars shouldn't make execs who presided over failure into millionaires.
  • a ban on lobbying, limits on PR – you can't spend public handouts to lobby for more public handouts
  • no M&A activity for 5 years. We're bailing you out so you can run a productive business, not become an acquisition target.

This crisis is different than 2008. It's worse. Let's not make the response worse, as well.

(Image: Bernie Durfee, CC BY-SA)


Fox News is a suicide cult (permalink)

Throughout the crisis, Fox News has been dutifully fulfilling its role as a state new organ for the Trump admin. When Trump's narrative was "no big deal," the network engaged in denial and urged its viewers to engage in high-risk conduct to perform their tribal loyalty.

TV news viewers are much older than the median American. Fox viewers are much older than the median TV new viewer. Old people are at the highest risk of covid complications. Linear increases in patient age yield exponential increases in mortality.

Fox has since changed its orthodoxy to match the president's new narrative. But it's too late. Many viewers will cling to their original denial in order to protect themselves from feeling like dupes.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/on-fox-news-suddenly-a-very-different-tune-about-the-coronavirus/2020/03/16/7a7637cc-678f-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html

Others are already incubating – and passing on the virus.

Fox News just murdered a substantial portion of its viewership.

https://ritholtz.com/2020/03/foxnews-clearpresentdanger/

But don't get smug. The Fox viewers' risky conduct will have spread the virus further, infecting people far beyond the circle of denialists.

And their cases and the cases of those they infected will contribute to the overwhelming of the health-care system.

People who have car-wrecks or burst appendices or complex births or other emergency hospitalizations will die as a result.

Fox didn't cause the pandemic, and its viewers aren't solely responsible for its spread. But their ideology and conduct made it much, much worse.


Grocery supply chains are resilient (permalink)

If you – like me – have been worried about empty US grocery shelves, it appears that you can rest easy (or easier).

US food distributors' warehouses are at 200-500% nominal, comparable to pre-Thanksgiving.

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/18/817920400/empty-grocery-shelves-are-alarming-but-theyre-not-permanent

They saw this coming and stocked up.

Food production is also still very healthy.

The shortages appear temporary, driven by logistics bottlenecks that will ease with time, assuming the labor force for grocers/warehousers/shippers remains healthy and available.

(Image: Lyza, CC BY-SA)


Magic in the time of coronavirus (permalink)

I really dote on the "social magic" of Andy at The Jerx, a one-on-one style of conjuring and mentalism that often plays out over weeks and months. He's been doing a series of performing tricks during coronavirus, and the latest instalment is great.

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2020/3/19/magic-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-part-3

"I have this trick I'm working on but I've run out of people to perform it on in person. Can you hop on Skype for a few minutes?"

This implies that you could do the trick in person, and you can use it to do something you couldn't do in person.

"The window of the Skype frame makes switching and ditching and that sort of thing incredibly easy. You don't need a pocket index, you can have stuff just sitting on your computer desk off frame."


This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago Peter Watts found guilty www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1186

#10yrsago Icelandic Pirates soar: citizenship for Snowden? https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/03/icelandic-pirate-partys-rapid-rise-may-result-in-citizenship-for-snowden/

#1yrago Uber used spyware to surveil and poach drivers from Australian rival service Gocatch https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-18/uber-used-secret-spyware-to-try-and-crush-australian-start-up/10901120

#1yrago Kickstarter employees want to unionize under OPEIU and have formed Kickstarter United to make that happen https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/19/18254995/kickstarter-unionizing-union-representation-inclusivity-transparency-tech-us-crowdfunding

#1yrago The European Copyright Directive: What Is It, and Why Has It Drawn More Controversy Than Any Other Directive In EU History? https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/03/european-copyright-directive-what-it-and-why-has-it-drawn-more-controversy-any

#1yrago Matt Taibbi finally makes sense of the Pentagon's trillions in off-books "budgetary irregularities" https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/pentagon-budget-mystery-807276/

#1yrago New Zealand's domestic spies, obsessed with illegally surveilling environmental activists, missed a heavily armed right-wing terrorist https://consortiumnews.com/2019/03/15/misguided-spying-and-the-new-zealand-massacre/


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Disney Parks Blog (https://disneyparks.disney.go.com), Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/).

Currently writing: I've just finished rewrites on a short story, "The Canadian Miracle," for MIT Tech Review. It's a story set in the world of my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. I've also just completed "Baby Twitter," a piece of design fiction also set in The Lost Cause's prehistory, for a British think-tank. I'm getting geared up to start work on the novel next.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: The Masque of the Red Death and Punch Brothers Punch https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/16/the-masque-of-the-red-death-and-punch-brothers-punch/

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_medium=socialpost&utm_term=na-poesycorypreorder&utm_content=na-preorder-buynow&utm_campaign=9781626723627

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250757531

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

LISTEN: CBC Radio cuts off expert when he questions Covid19 narrative

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/03/2020 - 10:45am in

Tags 

audio, Canada, China, Italy

A phone interview with a respected physician appears to have been cut short by CBC Radio when the Doctor went off-script Dr Joel Kettner phoned into the March 15th episode of CBC’s Cross Country Checkup podcast to discuss the Canadian (and international) reaction to the Covid19 pandemic. He was in the middle of making a …

Pluralistic: 14 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/03/2020 - 2:20am in

Today's links

  1. Masque of the Red Death: Macmillan Audio gave me permission to share the audiobook of my end-of-the-world novella.
  2. When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth: A new podcast audiobook of my 2005 end-of-the-world story.
  3. Ada Palmer on historical and modern censorship: Part of EFF's Speaking Freely project.
  4. Glitch workers unionize: First-ever tech union formed without management opposition.
  5. Women of Imagineering: A 384-page illustrated chronicle of the role women play in Disney theme-park design.
  6. Tachyon celebrates 30 years of sff publishing with a Humble Bundle: DRM-free and benefits EFF.
  7. Honest Government Ads, Covid-19 edition: Political satire is really hard, but The Juice makes it look easy.
  8. TSA lifts liquid bans, telcos lift data caps: Almost as though there was no reason for them in the first place.
  9. CBC postpones Canada Reads debates: But you can read a ton of the nominated books online for free.
  10. Star Wars firepits: 750lbs of flaming backyard steel.
  11. This day in history: 2005, 2015, 2019
  12. Colophon: Recent publications, current writing projects, upcoming appearances, current reading


Masque of the Red Death (permalink)

Edgar Allan Poe wrote "The Masque of the Red Death" in 1842. It's about a plutocrat who throws a masked ball in his walled abbey during a plague with the intention of cheating death.

https://www.poemuseum.org/the-masque-of-the-red-death

My novella "The Masque of the Red Death" is a tribute to Poe; it's from my book Radicalized. It's the story of a plute who brings his pals to his luxury bunker during civlizational collapse in the expectation of emerging once others have rebuilt.

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250242334

Naturally, they assume that when they do emerge, once their social inferiors have rebooted civilization, that their incredible finance-brains, their assault rifles, and their USBs full of BtC will allow them to command a harem and live a perpetual Frazetta-painting future.

And naturally – to anyone who's read Poe – it doesn't work out for them. They discover that humanity has a shared microbial destiny and that you can't shoot germs. That every catastrophe must be answered with solidarity, not selfishness, if it is to be survived.

Like my story When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, the Masque of the Red Death has been on a lot of people's minds lately, especially since this Guardian story of plutes fleeing to their luxury bunkers was published. Hundreds of you have sent me this.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/disease-dodging-worried-wealthy-jet-off-to-disaster-bunkers

I got the message. Yesterday, I asked my agent to see if Macmillan Audio would let me publish the audiobook of my Masque of the Red Death for free. They said yes, and asked me to remind you that the audiobook of Radicalized (which includes Masque) is available for your delectation.

I hope you'll check out the whole book. Radicalized was named one of the WSJ's best books of 2019, and it's a finalist for Canada Reads, the national book prize. It's currently on every Canadian national bestseller list.

There's one hitch, though: Audible won't sell it to you. They don't sell ANY of my work, because I don't allow DRM on it, because I believe that you should not have to lock my audiobooks to Amazon's platform in order to enjoy them.

Instead, you can buy the audio from sellers like libro.fm, Downpour.com, and Google Play. Or you can get it direct from me. No DRM, no license agreement. Just "you bought it, you own it."

https://craphound.com/shop/

And here's the free Macmillan Audio edition of Masque of the Red Death, read with spine-chilling menace by the incredible Stefan Rudnicki, with a special intro from me, freshly mastered by John Taylor Williams. I hope it gives you some comfort.

https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/13/the-masque-of-the-red-death/

(Here's the direct MP3, too)

https://archive.org/download/Cory_Doctorow_Podcast_332/Cory_Doctorow_Podcast_332_-_The_Masque_of_the_Red_Death.mp3


Ada Palmer on historical and modern censorship (permalink)

My EFF colleague Jillian C York's latest project is Speaking Freely, a series of interviews with people about free expression and the internet, including what Neil Gaiman memorably called "icky speech."

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-icky-speech.html

The latest interview subject is the incomparable Ada Palmer: historian, sf writer, musician, and co-host of last year's U Chicago seminar series on "systems of information control during information revolutions," which I co-taught with her. Ada's interview synthesizes her historian's distance from the subject ("yes, this is my subject, and these people are terrible, and it's kind of fun in that way") with her perspective as a writer and advocate for free speech.

"One of the victims of censorship is the future capacity to tell histories of the period when censorship happened….. It renders that historical record unreliable… makes it easier for people to make claims you can't refute using historical sources… It's similar to how we see people invalidating things now—like 'that climate study wasn't really valid because it got funding from a leftist political group"—they're invalidating the material by claiming that there has to be insincerity its development.

"Pretty much every censoring operation post-printing press recognizes that it isn't possible to track down and destroy every copy of a thing…An Inquisition book burning was the ceremonial burning of one copy. The Inquisition kept examples of all of the books they banned."

Fascinating perspecting on whether nongovernmental action can really be called "censorship."

"The Inquisition wasn't the state – it was a private org like to Doctors Without Borders or Unicef, run by private orgs like the Dominicans and it often competed with the state." As she points out, everything the Inquisition did would be fine alongside the First Amendment, because it was entirely private action.

Next, Palmer talks about market concentration and how it abets this kind of private censorship. This is something I've written a lot about, see for example:

https://locusmag.com/2020/01/cory-doctorow-inaction-is-a-form-of-action/

"If you have a plural set of voices, then you're always going to have some spaces where things can be said, just like you have a plurality of printers printing books, and some will only print orthodox things and some will only print radical ones."

And while the internet could afford many venues for speech, in practice a concentrated internet makes is plausible to accomplish the censor's never-realized dream: "You can make a program that can hunt down every instance of a particular phrase and erase it."

Tiny architectural choices make big differences here ("Architecture is politics" -Mitch Kapor). Amazon can update your Kindle books without your permission, Kobo can't. Amazon could delete every instance of a book on Kindles, but Kobo would need cooperation from its customers.

Palmer is just the latest subject of Jillian's series. You can read many other amazing interviews here:

https://www.eff.org/speaking-freely


When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth (permalink)

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of people have written to me to draw comparisons between the pandemic emergency and my 2005 story "When Sysamins Ruled the Earth" – an apocalyptic tale of network administrators who survive a civilizational collapse.

https://craphound.com/overclocked/Cory_Doctorow_-Overclocked-_When_Sysadmins_Ruled_the_Earth.html

I started writing this story in the teacher's quarters at the Clarion Workshop, which was then hosted at MSU. It was July 6, 2005. I know the date because the next day was 7/7, when bombs went off across London, blowing up the tube train my wife normally rode to work. The attacks also took out the bus I normally rode to my office. My wife was late to work because I was in Michigan, so she slept in. It probably saved her life. I couldn't work on this story for a long time after.

Eventually, I finished it and sold it to Eric Flint for Baen's Universe magazine. It's been widely reprinted and adapted, including as a comic:

https://archive.org/details/CoryDoctorowsFuturisticTalesOfTheHereAndNow/mode/2up

I read this for my podcast 15 years ago, too, but the quality is terrible. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I should do a new reading. So I did, and John Taylor Williams mastered it overnight and now it's live.

https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/13/when-sysadmins-ruled-the-earth-2/

There's a soliloquy in this where the protagonist reads a part of John Perry Barlow's Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace. Rather than read it myself for the podcast, I ganked some of Barlow's own 2015 reading, which is fucking magnificent.

https://vimeo.com/111576518

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. I've spent a lot of imaginary time inhabiting various apocalypses, driven (I think) by my grandmother's horrific stories of being inducted into the civil defense corps during the Siege of Leningrad, which began when she was 12.

You can subscribe to the podcast here:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/doctorow_podcast

And here's the MP3, which is hosted by the Internet Archive (they'll host your stuff for free, too!).

https://archive.org/download/Cory_Doctorow_Podcast_331/Cory_Doctorow_Podcast_331_-_When_Sysadmins_Ruled_the_Earth.mp3


Glitch workers unionize (permalink)

The staff of Glitch have formed a union. It seems to be the first-ever white-collar tech-workers' union to have formed without any objections from management (bravo, Anil Dash!).

https://cwa-union.org/news/releases/tech-workers-app-developer-glitch-vote-form-union-and-join-cwa-organizing-initiative

The workers organized under the Communications Workers of America, which has been organizing tech shops through their Campaign to Organize Digital Employees.

https://www.code-cwa.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIovDRsc-S6AIVCuDICh0rFQCMEAAYASAAEgJb1PD_BwE

"We appreciate that unlike so many employers, the Glitch management team decided to respect the rights of its workforce to choose union representation without fear or coercion."


Women of Imagineering (permalink)

Next October, Disney will publish "Women of Imagineering: 12 Careers, 12 Theme Parks, Countless Stories," a 384-page history of a dozen pioneering woman Imagineers.

https://thedisneyblog.com/2020/03/13/new-book-highlights-stories-from-the-women-of-walt-disney-imagineering/

Featured are Elisabete Erlandson, Julie Svendsen, Maggie Elliott, Peggy Fariss, Paula Dinkel, Karen Connolly Armitage, Katie Olson, Becky Bishop, Tori Atencio, Lynne Macer Rhodes, Kathy Rogers, and Pam Rank.

When I worked at Imagineering, the smartest, most talented, most impressive staff I knew were women (like Sara Thacher!). It's amazing to see the women of the organization get some long-overdue recognition.


Tachyon celebrates 30 years of sff publishing with a Humble Bundle (permalink)

For 30 years, Tachyon has been publishing outstanding science fiction, including a wide range of stuff that's too weird or marginal for the Big 5 publishers, like collections of essays and collections.

https://tachyonpublications.com/

Now, they've teamed up with Humble Bundle to celebrate their 30th with a huge pay-what-you-like bundle that benefits EFF. There are so many great books in this bundle!

https://www.humblebundle.com/books/celebrating-25-years-scifi-fantasy-from-tachyon-books

Like Bruce Sterling's Pirate Utopia, Eileen Gunn's Stable Strategies, and books by Michael Moorcock, Thomas Disch, Jo Walton, Jane Yolen, Nick Mamatas, Kameron Hurley, Lauren Beukes, Lavie Tidhar and so many more!

I curated the very first Humble Ebook Bundle and I've followed all the ones since. This one is fucking amazeballs. Run, don't walk.


Honest Government Ads, Covid-19 edition (permalink)

Good political satire is hard, but The Juice's "Honest Government Ads" are consistently brilliant.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKRw8GAAtm27q4R3Q0kst_g

The latest is, of course, Covi9-19 themed. It is funny, trenchant, and puts the blame exactly where it belongs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hks6Nq7g6P4

If you like it, you can support their Patreon.

https://www.patreon.com/TheJuiceMedia


TSA lifts liquid bans, telcos lift data caps (permalink)

Your ISP is likely to lift its data-caps in the next day or two. AT&T and Comcast already did.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/v74qzb/atandt-suspends-broadband-usage-caps-during-coronavirus-crisis

And TSA has decided that 12 ounces of any liquid labelled "hand sanitizer" is safe for aviation, irrespective of what's in the bottle.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/13/21179120/tsa-hand-sanitizer-liquid-size-airport-screening-coronavirus-covid-19

What do these two facts have in common? Obviously, it's that the official narrative for things that impose enormous financial costs on Americans, and dramatically lower their quality of lives, were based on lies. These lies have been obvious from the start. The liquid ban, for example, is based on a plot that never worked (making binary explosives in airport bathroom sinks from liquids) and seems unlikely to ever have worked, according to organic chemists.

Keeping your "piranha bath" near 0' C for a protracted period in the bathroom toilet is some varsity-level terrorism, and the penalty for failure is that you maim or blind yourself with acid spatter.

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/on_the_implausi.html

And even if you stipulate that the risk is real, it's been obvious for 14 years that multiple 3oz bottles of Bad Liquid could be recombined beyond the checkpoint to do whatever it is liquids do at 3.0001oz.The liquid ban isn't just an inconvenience. It's not even just a burden on travelers who've collectively spent billions to re-purchase drinks and toiletries. It's a huge health burden to people with disabilities who rely on constant access to liquids.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m12mLXgO1A

And as we knew all along, the liquid ban was a nonsense, an authoritarian response to a cack-handed, improbable terror plot. It embodies the "security syllogism":

Something must be done. There, I've done something.

Think of all those checkpoints where all confiscated liquids were dumped into a giant barrel and mingled together: if liquids posed an existential threat to planes, they'd dispose of them like they were C4, not filtered water. No one believed in the liquid threat, ever. TSA can relax the restrictions and allow 12oz of anything labeled as hand-san through the checkpoints. There was no reason to confiscate liquids in the first place. But don't expect them to admit this. The implicit message of the change is "Pandemics make liquids safe."

Now onto data-caps. Like the liquid ban, data-caps have imposed a tremendous cost on Americans. In addition to the hundreds of millions in monopoly rents extracted from the nation by telcos through overage charges, these caps also shut many out of the digital world. They represent a regressive tax on information, one that falls worst upon the most underserved in the nation: people in poor and rural places, for whom online access is a gateway to civic and political life, family connection, employment and education.

We were told that we had to tolerate these caps because of the "tragedy of the commons," a fraudulent idea from economics that says that shared resources are destroyed through selfish overuse, based on no data or evidence.

https://thebaffler.com/latest/first-as-tragedy-then-as-fascism-amend

(By contrast, actual commons are a super-efficient way of managing resources)

https://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/elinor-ostroms-8-principles-managing-commmons

Telcos insisted that if they didn't throttle and gouge us, their networks would become unusable – but really, what they meant is that if they didn't throttle and gouge us, the windfall to their shareholders would decline.

What's more likely: that pandemics make network management tools so efficient that data-caps become obsolete, or that they were a shuck and a ripoff from day one, enabled by a hyper-concentrated industry of monopolists with cozy relationships with corrupt regulators?

So yeah, maybe this is the moment that kills Security Theater and data-caps.

https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/12/coronavirus-could-force-isps-to-abandon-data-caps-forever/

(Image: Rhys Gibson)


CBC postpones Canada Reads debates (permalink)

The folks at the CBC have postponed next week's televised Canada Reads debates, so we're going to have to wait a while to find out who wins the national book prize.

https://www.cbc.ca/books/canada-reads-2020-postponed-1.5497678

Obviously, this is a bummer, though equally obviously, it's a relatively small consequence of this ghastly circumstance.

And on the bright side, the CBC have just released a ton of excerpts from the nominees:

https://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads/read-excerpts-from-the-canada-reads-2020-books-1.5496637

If you're looking for some Canada Reads lit for this moment, my novella "Masque of the Red Death" appears in my collection Radicalized, one of the finalists. I put up the story as a free podast last night (thanks to Macmillan Audio for permission).

https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/13/the-masque-of-the-red-death/


Star Wars firepits (permalink)

West Coast Firepits went viral when they produced a Death Star firepit, though of course, I lusted after their Tiki Firepit.

https://www.westcoastfirepits.com/shop/tiki-firepit-69825

But now they're really leaning into the Star Wars themed pits, with an Interceptor pit ($2500):

https://www.westcoastfirepits.com/shop/interceptor

Or, if you prefer a post-apocalyptic version, there's a Crashed Interceptor pit, also $2500.

https://www.westcoastfirepits.com/shop/crashed-interceptor

If those prices seem high, consider that they're hand-made onshore, and contain 750lbs of 1/4" and 1/8" steel.


This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago How DRM will harm the developing world https://web.archive.org/web/20050317005030/https://www.eff.org/IP/DRM/itu_drm.php

#5yrsago Anti-vaxxer ordered to pay EUR100K to winner of "measles aren't real" bet https://calvinayre.com/2015/03/13/business/biologist-ordered-to-pay-e100k-after-losing-wager-that-a-virus-causes-measles/

#1yrago A massive victory for fair use in the longrunning Dr Seuss vs Star Trek parody lawsuit https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190313/09554041791/big-fair-use-win-mashups-places-youll-boldly-go-deemed-to-be-fair-use.shtml

#1yrago A detailed analysis of American ER bills reveals rampant, impossible-to-avoid price-gouging https://www.vox.com/health-care/2018/12/18/18134825/emergency-room-bills-health-care-costs-america

#1yrago Ketamine works great for depression and other conditions, and costs $10/dose; the new FDA-approved "ketamine" performs badly in trials and costs a fortune https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/03/11/ketamine-now-by-prescription/

#1yrago Facebook and Big Tech are monopsonies, even when they're not monopolies https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-not-monopoly-but-should-broken-up/


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: EFF Deeplinks (https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/), Waxy (https://waxy.org/), Slashdot https://slashdot.org).

Currently writing: I've just finished rewrites on a short story, "The Canadian Miracle," for MIT Tech Review. It's a story set in the world of my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. I've also just completed "Baby Twitter," a piece of design fiction also set in The Lost Cause's prehistory, for a British think-tank. I'm getting geared up to start work on the novel next.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/13/when-sysadmins-ruled-the-earth-2/

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_medium=socialpost&utm_term=na-poesycorypreorder&utm_content=na-preorder-buynow&utm_campaign=9781626723627

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250757531

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

Coronavirus: Brand new problem, same old reaction

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/03/2020 - 6:30am in

Kit Knightly There was a cartoon on TV when I was little called Pinky and The Brain, watched by small children and ironically appreciated by culty (perhaps stoned) teenagers alike. It followed the wacky adventures of two white mice living in a science lab. There was a running gag in the show, at some point …

Prince Harry Is Quite Right about Trump and Global Warming

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/03/2020 - 7:55am in

One of the big news stories today is about Prince Harry being caught out in a prank call by two Russian hoaxers. They posed as teen climate campaigner Greta Thunberg and her father, and tricked him into making some impolitic comments. The one replayed in the ITV news piece about this story was of the prince saying to ‘Thunberg’ that he didn’t mind telling ‘you guys’, but that Donald Trump had blood on his hands through his refusal to sign the Paris accords on global warming. This was going to have terrible effects on the Pacific Island nations.

The hoax was reported by the Scum, and Zelo Street today has put up a piece wondering if Murdoch’s mighty organ didn’t pay the two jokers or put them up to the job. Because how else would they know that Harry and Meghan are living in luxury on Vancouver Island? That would make sense. The Murdoch press has plenty of previous with this. There’s the entire career of the fake sheikh Mahmood Mazher in the late, unlamented News of the Screws. Mazher, who really came from Birmingham, used to dress up as an Arab sheikh and then ingratiate himself with the good, the great, and the not-so-great, in order to trick them into doing or saying something improper. He tried it with a friend of the two princes and the young man’s girlfriend, whisking them off to Las Vegas. They were given a whirlwind tour of the sites, while Mazher in disguise kept asking them questions about the royal family, and particularly the Queen Mother. The couple didn’t have any opinion about them, and told Mazher that. They didn’t realise who he was at the time, and it was only when they were back in Blighty that they twigged it was him. Not that it did Mazher any good. When they checked with the Screws, they were told that he’d got nothing of any value out of them and the whole trip had wasted £7,000. Good. May all of these stunts by Murdoch’s lackeys be such colossal wastes of money.

This might have some bearing on how Trump views the British establishment or the royal family, but the prince is now a private citizen and can say what the devil he likes. And he is absolutely right about Trump and the Pacific Islanders. Trump doesn’t believe one bit in climate change and global warming, and is actively trying to block any state research and publication of findings showing that it exists. And it is a threat to the Pacific Island nations. One of them – I think it might have been Kiribati – is only a metre or so above sea level. They put on a demonstration a few years ago urging the world and the major powers to do more to tackle climate change, because rising sea levels mean that their homeland may soon be underwater. Harry obviously knows this, and I’m not surprised – his gran is the head of the Commonwealth, after all.

I got the impression that the Murdoch press and the rest of the Tory media hated Harry for marrying Meghan, a woman of colour, and taking over some of her progressive ideas, like feminism and Green politics. They’re probably congratulating themselves even now with having tricked him into disgracing himself.

But not in my book.

The prince was the victim of a disgraceful prank, which serves no good public purpose anyway.

And the prince is absolutely right about Trump, climate change and global warming.

And he’s shown that he takes very seriously both the climate crisis and the welfare of the peoples of the Commonwealth and the world who are affected.

Murdoch and his goons are a disgrace, but Harry and Meghan have outclassed them.

I hope they win their lawsuit against Murdoch and his goons, and that this incident only makes Harry and Meghan more popular, and Murdoch more despised.

 

Chief Rabbi Tells AIPAC Why He Told People Not to Vote for Corbyn

Unfortunately, Melanie Phillips wasn’t the only person this week violating the provisions of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in Israel’s favour. So was Ephraim Mirvis, the world’s worst Chief Rabbi. Mirv appeared in the page of the wretched right-wing libel sheet, the Jewish Chronicle, talking about his speech to AIPAC explaining why he told the British Jewish public not to vote for Labour because of Jeremy Corbyn. AIPAC is one of the very largest pro-Israel lobbying organisation in America. The largest is Ted Hagee’s equally vile Christians United for Israel, but AIPAC is extremely influential. Leading American politicos, including presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton, have appeared before it, pledging their undying support for Israel and seeking the organisation’s endorsement. And its leaders include such charmless nerks as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson’s a casino billionaire, who has apparently made it public that his first loyalty is to Israel. The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism says it is anti-Semitic to accuse Jews of being more loyal to a foreign country. For the vast majority of Jews, this is undoubtedly the case – they’re loyal citizens and accusing them of such disloyalty would be anti-Semitic. But in Adelson’s case, apparently, it’s true.

Mirv’s Violation of IHRA Anti-Semitism Definition

Mirv declared that Prime Ministers of Israel and key Jewish leaders have been graciously and warmly welcomed at No. 10 under the Conservatives. As Mike points out in his article, they’ve also been welcomed by Labour leaders. One of these was Tony Blair, who received considerable backing from the Israel lobby, which is probably one of the reasons why the Blairites were able to make such an alliance with the Israel lobby in the Labour Party to attack Corbyn. He then went on to ask rhetorically “What would happen if the next incumbent was Jeremy Corbyn? What would the consequences be for Jews and Judaism and the State of Israel?” As Mike also points out, that also violates another stipulation of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism – that Jews should not be identified with Israel.

Unfortunately, Zionists do it all the time. Netanyahu passed a law nearly a decade ago making all Jews everywhere automatically citizens of Israel. Many Jews weren’t impressed. There are very many Israel critical and anti-Zionist Jews. These include ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews, who believe it is their God-given duty to remain in exile and work for the good of the countries in which they live, until the Messiah comes to restore Israel. This cannot be the work of a secular state, which is an abomination. They’re a growing section of the British Israeli population. In a few years they will account for a third of it, and will have overtaken the United Synagogue as the largest section of British Jewry. Other Jews are critical of Israel from a belief in traditional liberal Jewish values, and despise the country for its barbarous ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. And these are also a growing part of the American Jewish population. An increasing number of American Jewish young people have no interest in Israel, or actively oppose it because of its treatment of the Palestinians. Enrollment in the heritage tours, which the Israeli state gives American school leavers so that they can visit Israel, is falling. One Jewish American, commenting on Netanyahu’s wretched citizenship law, said it was ludicrous that he, who had been born in Anchorage in Alaska, was a member of country he’d never been to, while his friend, a Palestinian, had no right to return to the country of his birth. And this opposition to Israel is shared by Jews, who have experienced genuine anti-Semitism.

Chief Rabbinate and Board of Deputies Not Representative of British Jewry

And then there’s the claim of the Zionist Jewish establishment to represent all of Britain’s Jews. Er, no, they really don’t. The Jews have never been a monolithic community. That’s a fantasy of anti-Semites. They’re as disparate and varied in their attitudes, opinions and values as every other ethnic or religious group. As Jewish bloggers like Tony Greenstein and David Rosenberg have pointed out, the Board of Deputies really only represents the United Synagogue. And its questionable how many of them it represents. Some synagogues don’t allow women to vote, others have sitting deputies whom they haven’t changed for years. And the Board’s constitution explicitly defines itself as a Zionist organisation, so non-Zionists need not apply. And needless to say, as they’re based on the synagogues, they don’t represent that third of British Jewry that is secular. But never mind. Once upon a time ’twas said that the Anglican Church was the Tory party at prayer. That was true at one time, as the Tory party stood for the monarchy, the established church and the landed aristocracy. But since Thatcher the Anglican Church has also criticised Tory policy on poverty, leading to disputes between the Tories and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It now seems that the Anglican Church is no longer such a staunch upholder of Conservatism. That role now seems to have been taken over by the United Synagogue, who can always be relied on to produce another anti-Semitism smear against Labour when the Tories are in trouble.

As for the Chief Rabbinate, as Mike has said on his blog, traditional Jewish theology and law stipulates that no rabbi’s opinion is any better than any other rabbi’s. And so when Mirvis speaks, it could be said that he speaks for himself alone, or rather, just himself and those who choose to share his opinions. The old retort Winston Churchill once gave a member of the House Lords therefore seems to apply to him: ‘The honourable member represents only himself, and I don’t like his constituency’.

Mirvis himself is a true-blue Tory, and welcomed the ascension of Tweezer as Prime Minister. He is also very much a Zionist thug. He and his predecessor, the noxious ‘Reform Jews are enemies of the faith’ Jonathan Sacks, both led British contingents to the annual March of the Flags in Jerusalem. That’s the unedifying occasion when ultra-patriotic Israeli boot-boys go marching through the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem, waving the Israeli flag around, vandalising Palestinian property and terrorising the locals. Sacks was requested by a liberal Jewish organisation not to go. He ignored them.

Jews Safe and Respected Under Corbyn

Not every Tory was happy about Mirvis’ decision to attack Corbyn. Simon Kelner wrote a piece in the I attacking it, stating that if Corbyn did win the election, nothing would happen to Britain’s Jews. There would be no riots, no pogroms. Now Kelner promoted the anti-Semitism smears as enthusiastically as all the other Fleet Street hacks. And in writing his piece he may well have been afraid that Corbyn would get in, and Mirv’s predictions of rampant Jew-hatred would have been exposed as the fearmongering it was. And as a consequence, the reputation of Chief Rabbinate would have been very badly damaged.

But Kelner would have been right. Nothing would have happened to Britain’s Jews under a Corbyn administration, because neither Corbyn nor his supporters are anti-Semites. Quite the opposite – Corbyn has always worked for the Jewish community. And he would have continued to do so. What would have happened is that Israel would have come under pressure to obey UN resolutions regarding the treatment of the Palestinians. And the ability of the Israel lobby to smear critics of Israel as anti-Semites would be severely damaged.

Jews Historically Indifferent or Opposed to Israel and Zionism

As for the relationship between British Jews and Israel, my guess is that the situation would have gone back to that pre-1969 and the launch of the Neo-Con project. William Kristol announced it in an American Jewish magazine as a method for encouraging Americans, and that included American Jews, to support Israel. Norman Finkelstein, that redoubtable Jewish American critic of Zionism, has pointed out that Kristol launched Neo-Conservatism because American Jews weren’t interested in Israel. They had no interest going to an unknown country, when they could make comfortable lives for themselves in America. David Rosenberg has said that until World War II, Zionism was a tiny minority in European Jewish opinion. Most Jews wished to remain in the nations of their birth, as equal citizens. The slogan of the Jewish socialist party, the Bund, was ‘Wherever we live, that’s our homeland!’. My guess is that British Jews have the same attitude. The Balfour Declaration was opposed by the British Jewish establishment, as they wanted Jews to be, and to be seen as, patriotic fellow Brits. They did not want to be accused of being foreign or having divided loyalties, and felt very strongly that the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine would lead to such anti-Semitic accusations. If British Jews migrated, my guess is that most of them would have gone to the same destinations as their gentile counterparts – America, or one of the White majority Commonwealth countries – Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Jews have been dinkum  Ozzies since the 19th century. In the 1870s Rabbi Davis of the Sydney Synagogue took part in a rally against the enslavement of the indigenous Polynesians along with his Christian compatriots in the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian churches. According to Patridge’s Dictionary of Historical Slang, the Australian term ‘Cobber’ comes from the Hebrew ‘Cobar’, which means ‘comrade’. If Corbyn had got in, it’s possible that all that would have resulted is that more Jews would have become indifferent to Israel. An attitude that’s probably growing anyway.

Conclusion

Mike in his piece on Mirv’s wretched speech asks if the Chief Rabbi is more concerned about representing Israeli racism than Britain’s Jews. I don’t think Mirvis is able to distinguish between Judaism and Israel, so taken is he with the Zionist lie that the two are one and the same. And at present, the absolute, uncritical support he and the Board demand for Israel does mean supporting racism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

An increasing number of British Jews, including those who consider themselves Zionist, oppose this. But it seems that Mirvis really doesn’t represent them.

Is the UK’s Chief Rabbi more concerned with supporting Israeli racism than Jewish people?

 

 

 

Sargon of Gasbag and Posy Parker on the Dangers of Radical Transgender Activists

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/02/2020 - 10:47pm in

Mike this morning has posted a piece about a Facebook argument he got into when he dared challenge Rebecca Long-Bailey’s commitment to tackling ‘transphobia’ in the Labour Party. As Mike’s article makes it very clear, he is in no way transphobic, and has trans friends. However, like many of us he has reservations about people making the decision to change their danger, when they may not need or be suited for it. Mike recounts how he has a friend, who had been considering transitioning. Mike supported them in their decision, but he also supports their decision that they didn’t want to go through with it. He is also afraid that the party’s policy of championing Trans rights would become another witch hunt, with those who oppose them smeared and expelled as transphobes regardless of whether they actually were.

Long-Bailey’s decision to attack transphobia was reported in Thursday’s I in an article by Richard Vaughan. This said that she had

sparked a row yesterday after urging members to sign up to a campaign that pledges to “fight” women’s groups deemed to be “transphobic”.

The Labour Campaign for Trans Rights also called for the expulsion of party members who hold “bigoted, transphobic views”, which it maintains includes Women’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance, which campaign for women-only spaces.

The move triggered fury among women Labour members who threatened to quit the party in protest, accusing the campaign of being a “misogynistic abuse” of women.

The report goes on to say that

The Labour Campaign for Trans Rights drew up a list of 12 pledges, the first of which demanded that the “transliberation must be an objective of the Labour Party” and called for changes to the Gender Recognition Act to “improve transgender rights.”

The group was backed by Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a supporter of Ms Long-Bailey for leader, who claimed yesterday that “sex is not binary – one or the other”. Women’s Place UK criticised the campaign group and denied that it was “transphobic”.

In a statement, it said, “We call on the Labour Party to demonstrate its opposition to this misogynistic abuse of women. Defend us or expel us’.

Long-Bailey was also criticised by Shadow Cabinet MPs, who felt that this was an issue that was only important to the metropolitan elites, and detracted from the party’s true aim of winning back its traditional heartlands in the north and midlands.

Now let’s start off by making a fundamental point here:

I am not attacking transpeople as a whole. I am only attacking the radical transgender movement.

These people are very dangerous, and there are many transmen and -women who also oppose them. For an example, please see the ‘Rose of Dawn’ channel on YouTube. The Labour party should stand for equality and inclusion, which means fighting prejudice against race, creed or sexuality. But the radical transgender activists go much further than this and are extremely dangerous because of it. At the moment, as I understand it, to be properly considered transgender a person must have a medical diagnosis that they do indeed feel that they are trapped in the wrong body. The radicals wish to change that, so that it includes people, who simply self-identify as a different gender, or wish to change their gender, rather than those who medically qualify as transgender. Transpeople like Rose of Dawn are against this, partly because they feel that it undermines the immense efforts people like herself have made to transition and properly fit in as members of the opposite sex.

And the transition can cause major health problems. Aside from the radical surgery to the genitals, the body remains biochemically the same. This means that the hormones given to transpeople as part of their transition will affect them as if they were still members of the gender they were born into. It can cause problems like heart disease. Also, many people making the transition later come to regret it, wishing they had remained the gender of their birth or that they could change back. Some, tragically, commit suicide.

And radical transgender activism becomes extremely dangerous when it is foisted on children, and kids with only hazy notions of what gender is, or being a boy or girl means, are asked to question their sexual identity.

The radical transactivists also seem to have a vicious hatred of natural biological, cis-women. I understand that they abuse and sneer at ordinary women with terms like ‘cervix-havers’ and ‘menstruators’. From this it seems to me very much that the accusations of misogyny are correct.

And the fears for the safety of women and girls if female-only spaces are opened up to transpeople are not unfounded. Over the other side of the Pond, right-wing media and internet commentators have extensively discussed the bizarre and extremely threatening behaviour of Jessica Yaniv. Yaniv is a transwoman, who still retains her male genitals. From what I have seen about her, she is extremely aggressive, litigious and bullying. She has threatened her opponents, including journalists, with tasers. These weapons are forbidden to civilians under Canadian law. She became notorious a few years ago when she approached a series of beauty salons, asking them to wax her private parts. They refused, as she was biologically male. She then sued them, or threatened to sue them, as transphobic. Several closed as a result, but one fought back and successfully defended themselves. She has also attempted to bully the medical profession. If I remember correctly, she approached a gynaecologist about some issue with her male genitals. They refused to treat her, because they’re gynaecologists, and so only deal with female biology. This did not satisfy Yaniv, who insisted that she was female despite her biology, and so demanded that the gynaecologist treat her. I think more threats of litigation followed. Yaniv also has a weird fascination with menstruation, publishing frequent posts about how she is having a period, even though this is impossible with her male biology. But what makes her really dangerous is that she has posted very inappropriate messages to underage girls on social media. There’s a recording out of there of an obviously excited Yaniv drooling to an early teenage girl about how she wants to see her breasts. It’s extremely creepy and disturbing.

I realise that Yaniv is an extreme case, and hopefully an isolated one. But given her behaviour, especially to underage girls, you can understand why some women’s groups do not want people like her entering women’s spaces, especially those reserved for vulnerable women, like women’s refuges.

Unfortunately so far the only people tackling and criticising the transgender extremists are the right. People like Sargon of Gasbag, sorry, Akkad, Carl Benjamin, the man who broke UKIP. Benjamin holds some genuinely vile views on women and race, but on this issue, he is actually right. In the video below he talks to the anti-trans activist, Posy Parker. Parker started out on the left as a feminist, but no longer considers herself such, although she clearly is a women’s rights activist, because she was pushed out due to her refusal to buckle under to the gender radicals. She has therefore ended up in the Tories.

In the video, she and Sargon talk about the above subjects, including gay friends, who were considering transitioning before they talked them out of it, and the friends realised that they weren’t transgender, just very effeminate. The also discuss in detail what the operations involve, which some delicate viewers may find difficult viewing. Parker, like Sargon, is extremely controversial and has been banned by various media sites because of complaints of transphobia. One of these bans was incurred because she criticised a leading children’s trans-activist, who had taken her son to Thailand to have a sex-change operation for his 16th birthday. Instead of politely referring to the operation as a transition, Parker called it castration, and she and Sargon are agreed that pushing children towards gender realignment surgery is barbarous. Please use your own judgement viewing this material, as not everything Parker says may be correct.

However, I believe that in general, science and reason are behind Parker, Rose of Dawn and the other critics of the gender radicals. All I’ve heard from the other side of the argument, is outrage and demands that they should be treated the same as cis-people because of their personal experience.

In the normal run of things, I have absolutely no objection to that.

But I do have problems with the trans extremists and their dangerous demands for radical inclusion and expansion of who is considered transgender without regard for the mental and physical harm they may cause.

Here’s another video in which the right-wing American activist, Benjamin A. Boyce, talks to endocrinologist William Malone about the real physical complications of hormone treatment and the immorality of the treatment of transgender children, which in America currently leads to them transitioning when they become adults when there may be no need.

And here’s Rose of Dawn on the difference between transsexuals like herself, and the gender radicals which she opposes.

I definitely do not share these people’s Conservative political views. But in this issue I believe them to be fundamentally correct, both scientifically and morally, and Rebecca Long-Bailey and the radical trans-activists in Labour profoundly and dangerously wrong.

This should not be a party political issue. The safety of the vulnerable, and particularly women and children, should be a concern for all of us, whether politically left or right. And those on the Left have as much, if not better reasons for rejecting the claims and ideological propaganda of the gender radicals as those on the political right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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