elections

Our Choice May Be Vote By Mail Or DieElection Crimes Bulletin: Pandemic Edition

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/04/2020 - 11:31pm in

Greg Palast and Flashpoints host Dennis Bernstein discuss the problems we face exercising our democratic rights during a pandemic. Voting by Mail may seem like the solution, but mail-in ballots could deliver the election to Trump

The post Our Choice May Be Vote By Mail Or Die<div id='sec-title'>Election Crimes Bulletin: Pandemic Edition</div> appeared first on Greg Palast.

There’s a Better Way to Vote

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/04/2020 - 5:42am in

In the 2018 Grammys, Bruno Mars won the award for Best Album, beating out Jay Z, Lorde, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino. But was Bruno Mars really who most voters wanted to see win that year, or did the votes for some of the other nominees cancel each other out?

I am a Grammy voter, and I voted for Childish Gambino, I seem to recall. My second choice would have been Kendrick Lamar… and I would have indicated that if the Grammys had let us rank our choices. If they had, Kendrick’s votes might have outnumbered Bruno’s, and Kendrick would have won. Had that happened, I might not have seen my favorite win the Grammy for Best Album, but at least someone near the top of my list would have won, and I would have felt that I had some meaningful say in the outcome. 

But because the Grammys uses conventional voting, I only got one pick. My preferences beyond my top choice didn’t matter.

kendrick lamarWould Kendrick Lamar have won a Grammy if the contest used ranked choice voting? Credit: Wikipedia

What if every vote counted?

Imagine a representational voting system that has nothing to do with political parties and that guarantees that the voices of we the people are heard. Such a system exists — in fact, it has been in use in various parts of the U.S. for some years now. More and more places are getting on board. It’s called ranked choice voting.

In ranked choice voting (RCV), rather than only voting for a single candidate in each category, voters rank their favorites (first, second, third, etc.) from a list of everyone running. You can pick any candidate, regardless of party, if there are even parties (there don’t have to be). If no candidate reaches a majority, the one with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated.

What happens then? The folks who ranked that candidate first automatically have their second choice counted instead. This ensures that, while they may not get their first choice, their voice is still being heard. This process happens over and over until one candidate reaches a majority and is declared the winner.

A few states already use this system. Here’s an example from Quartz of how people’s second and third choices made a difference two years ago in Maine:

In 2018, after ballots were counted in Maine’s second congressional district, Democrat Jared Golden trailed Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin by about 2,000 votes. But with the ranked choice voting system, Golden ultimately won by about 3,000 votes, picking up Democratic votes that initially went to independents Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar.

According to an analysis by the Bangor Daily News, Poliquin was the more partisan of the two candidates, voting with Donald Trump 97 percent of the time, whereas Golden, a Marine veteran who ran on a moderate platform, “has campaigned as pragmatic more than partisan.” So Poliquin, who was a bit more extreme, did not triumph, and Maine ended up with a more moderate congressman. The supporters of Bond and Hoar may not have seen their favorites win, but Golden’s victory shows that many of them picked him as their second choice, so they got a leader somewhat more aligned with their wishes.

Maine ballot

What are the benefits of ranked choice voting?

It makes voters feel that their vote matters more

In ranked choice voting, the winner always has the support of half the voters even if he or she wasn’t the first choice of all of them. This prevents voters from feeling that their votes were “wasted,” as often happens in the present system.

It eliminates the spoiler effect

In typical, winner-take-all voting, a “loser” can win simply because the majority of votes got split among a few other, similar candidates. For example, if the 2000 presidential election had used ranked choice voting, many of Ralph Nader’s votes in Florida would have automatically gone to Al Gore on the presumption that Gore would have been the second choice of most Nader voters. 

bush gore 2000Credit: Conservapedia

Had this happened, Gore would have won that state — and the election. You can see why some politicians would prefer not to have RCV — its fairness doesn’t work well for them. If the supporters of that politician happen to comprise the largest individual slice of the pie — even if that slice is far less than half of the pie in total — then that person will win.

It helps reduce polarization and negative campaigning

As former presidential candidate Andrew Yang wrote on his website: “Since each voter can potentially vote for a candidate as well as their opponent, candidates shy from negative campaigning that would alienate the supporters of other candidates, instead trying to appeal to those voters as their second or third choice.”

It means fewer candidates are written off as unelectable

This could encourage a wider range of candidates to run for office, and more voters to cast their vote for them.

It eliminates primaries and runoffs

All candidates who qualify for the ballot are on there, not just the ones who survive the primary race. There are no primary races.

It eliminates swing districts or swing states because every vote matters

Swing districts and states are predicated on the largest individual pie slice after one vote taking the whole pie. With conventional voting, that can mean that a relatively small change in a pie slice can “swing” a whole area one way or another. With RCV, a “true majority” consensus results and a whole state or district is not represented by someone most voters don’t support.

It allows for more than two parties to actually matter

This happens because with RCV, since you have more than a binary choice, party affiliation isn’t necessarily what you’re voting for. And if you’re not voting strictly along party lines, then candidates not affiliated with either Democrats or Republicans might actually stand a chance. 

What are the downsides?

Some politicians — particularly incumbents — complain about ranked voting. Maybe this is mainly because it reduces their advantage, but they do make a couple of valid points worth mentioning.

It’s complicated

Yes, ranked choice voting demands more of the voter than a simple binary choice — they have to decide how to rank a whole list of candidates.

It requires voters to know about the candidates

Sadly, under our current system, many people simply vote along party lines, but with RCV voters actually have to research and read up about the candidates and what they stand for. Otherwise, they won’t know who to rank in which slot.

Oddly, both of these “problems” might actually be pluses. If voters feel the need to educate themselves a bit more, isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t that be applauded? Shouldn’t we give voters a little more credit than some politicians are giving them?

Where is ranked voting already in use?

Ranked Choice Voting is not just about political decisions. As can be seen in the ad below, ranked choice voting is used by the Academy Awards in some of the key Oscar categories. 

oscars ranked choice votingCredit: FairVote

A version of ranked choice voting is also used in baseball to determine Most Valuable Players. 

Voters assign players a rank using a point system called a Borda count. Everyone picks ten players for MVP — their top choice is awarded 14 “points,” their second choice gets nine points and so on. This is a slightly more sophisticated version of RCV, in that not all choices are equally weighted —  first choices get more points than second choices, and so on. One criticism of this method is that folks could game the system by selecting only their first choice and no one else, but that has not happened. Strictly ranked choice voting would eliminate even that possibility.

Mark McgwireMark McGwire, one of Major League Baseball’s Most Valuable Players. Credit: Wikipedia

Australia has been using RCV in their lower house elections since 1918, so this is not a newfangled idea. (Australia also has mandatory voting, but that’s another story.) Perhaps surprisingly, it was the conservative parties who pushed for RCV after losing when they split the vote in the second decade of the 20th century. Once RCV was implemented (it’s called preferential voting in Australia) the conservatives tended to dominate for a while, but that changed in the 1980s with the rise of the Greens and other small parties, whose representatives were able to gain seats in the government thanks to the RCV system.

RCV created more cooperation across the political aisle in Australia. Dominant parties and players often feel obliged to adopt at least some of the positions of smaller and opposing parties in hopes of being picked as second choice by their supporters. Polarization is lessened. 

Maine has recently adopted RCV for all its elections, even federal ones — it’s the first and only state to have done so. Fifteen U.S. cities use ranked voting, the largest being New York, where voters recently approved a ballot measure instating it. (It will take effect next year.) Among the others are San Francisco, Santa Fe and Minneapolis.

FairVoteCredit: FairVote

Ranked choice voting seems to have clear advantages over the plurality winner-take-all system used in most elections. The main question would seem to be, will voters put in the extra effort required to make it work? I imagine there could be some initial hesitation or confusion (it is indeed a little more complicated) as there was in Maine. To deal with this, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap made himself available on Facebook Live to answer voters’ questions. Folks there ended up feeling much more engaged and represented, and overwhelmingly voted in a second referendum to stick with ranked voting.

The post There’s a Better Way to Vote appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Keir Starmer Now Leader of the Labour Party and the Omens Are Not Good

Saturday was Jeremy Corbyn’s last day as the leader of the Labour Party. He stepped down with good grace, sending Labour members a letter thanking them for their support and looking back on his achievements. Although he never won an election, they were considerable. In 2017 he came within a cat’s whisker of achieving power. Decades of Thatcherite neoliberal dogma were vociferously challenged by a leader who believed in its ordinary members, and in actually doing something for the working class. He put renationalisation back on the table, as well as restoring union power, better working conditions and employment rights, and a properly funded NHS. And he gave people hope. Hundreds of thousands of people, who had left or perhaps never been members, flocked to join Labour under his leadership so that it became the biggest socialist party in Europe. And the situation with the Tories was reversed. Previously the Tories had been easily the biggest political party in terms of membership. But they’ve been hemorrhaging members due to their leadership’s absolute refusal to listen to them, rather than the corporate donors that are actually keeping the party afloat. Tory membership dwindled as Labour expanded.

This terrified the Tories, and the Blairites in the Labour party, who could feel their hold in power slipping away. So they began a campaign of vicious personal vilification and smearing. Corbyn, a man of peace and fervent anti-racist, was misrepresented as an anti-Semite and friend of terrorists. Corbyn’s own programme was pretty much the Old Labour centre ground, but he was presented as an extremist, a Trotskyite, or Stalinist Commie. He frightened the corrupt Jewish establishment through his support for the Palestinians, and so they fell back on their old tactic of smearing any and all critics of Israel as anti-Semites. He was repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism and his supporters purged from the party on charges that would not stand up in a formal court of law. The Blairites fully participated in this. Whenever the Beeb or the rest of the Tory media needed someone to attack Corbyn, a Blairite could be found to scream and shout baseless accusations. They tried to split the party, overthrow him in coups, but the mass walkout they tried to engineer never happened. One of their coup attempts was so shambolic it was derisively called ‘the chicken coup’. The new, centrist party they tried to set up was a joke from the start. It gathered little more than a few members, before fizzling out.

But these campaigns had their effect. Labour lost heavily at the last election. The key issue was Brexit, with people in the north and midlands voting for the Tories because of Boris’ promise to get Brexit done. Labour’s policies of welfare improvement and renationalisation were still immensely popular,  but the abuse, lies and personal attacks had done their work. The public hated Corbyn, but if you asked them why, they couldn’t tell you. Which shows the malignant power of a mendacious, corrupt and despicable mass media.

Corbyn and his deputy, John McDonnell, have stepped down, and the party has instead replaced him with Keir Starmer as leader and Angela Rayner as deputy. It’s a lurch to the right, back to the Blairite status quo ante. Starmer has many admirable qualities. He is known for his pro bono work as a human rights lawyer, in which he took on cases for nothing. One of his clients was Doreen Lawrence, who gave him her support for his efforts on her and her former husband’s behalf trying to get their son’s killer to face justice. Starmer’s victory was almost a foregone conclusion. The press made much of the fact that he was the favourite from the first round of voting, with the support of many of the trade unions and local constituency parties.

But Starmer is a Blairite. He has promised to keep to the manifesto promises drawn up by Corbyn’s team, but it’s doubtful whether this can be trusted. As a Blairite, his instinct will be to pull the party further right – to what is mistakenly called ‘the centre ground’. He will probably jettison the promises about nationalisation, workers’ rights, a welfare state that actually gives people enough to live on, and a properly funded NHS in order to return to Blair’s tactics of triangulation. That meant finding out what the Tories were doing, then copy it. He will most likely purge the party of left-wingers, leaving it the much smaller, Tory-lite party created by Blair. And like Blair he will grovel to Murdoch and the rest of the press. Mike put up an article voicing these predictions a few days ago, and I’m very much afraid that it does look as if that’s what he’s going to do. And he won’t win back the voters Labour lost in the midlands and north. They wanted Brexit, and they turned against Labour when Starmer and his supporters insisted that it should be Labour’s policy to hold another referendum about Brexit.

There are already indications that this is the way he will go. He’s appointed to a cabinet place the odious Rachel Reeves, who has declared that Labour shouldn’t be a party for the unemployed. She announced that Labour was founded by working people, for working people, and so in power would be harder on the unemployed than the Conservatives. Well, when Labour had that attitude before the War, back in the last century, it set up what were basically forced Labour camps for the unemployed. Does she want a return to that? Or just have more people starve, as they are under the Tories.

He has also made the disastrous decision to kowtow to the Zionist organisations promoting the anti-Semitism smears. All of the candidates signed up to the demands by the Board of Deputies of British Jews for the immediate mass expulsion, with no right to any proper defence or representation, and excommunication from current members for those accused of anti-Semitism. Starmer has announced he’s determined to root out anti-Semitism in party, and has gone to meet organisations like the Board, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. This meeting pointedly does not include the Jewish groups, that genuinely stand for socialism and which have supported Labour and Corbyn throughout – Jewdas, Jewish Voice for Labour, the Jewish Socialist Group. Starmer no doubt feels that he is clearing up the issue of anti-Semitism once and for all, but he’s just played into their hands. The loathsome Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has welcomed the move, but demanded that he now censure or expel Corbyn for anti-Semitism. Which shows you just how mean-spirited and vengeful Falter and his ghastly crew are. Starmer is now placed in the unenviable position of either attacking the party’s former leader, which will anger his supporters and lead to mass resignations, or else the CAA, Board and the rest of the scumbuckets will accuse him of being soft on anti-Semitism and kick up another round of abuse and accusations.

And this is not to mention his decision to take up Johnson’s offer and work with him and the Tories in a constructive relationship to combat the Coronavirus. I understand the logic on which it’s based. He wants to be seen as the good guy, putting the needs of the country above party in a show of national unity during the emergency. He’s not the only one who wanted to do this. So did Lisa Nandy. But what will probably happen is that he will share the blame for Boris’ failings, while Boris will take any credit for any positive actions suggested by Labour. That is how the SPD – the German equivalent of the Labour Party – lost when they went into coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Merkel and her party moved left. They took credit for improvements to Germany’s welfare system, like greater benefit payments, which were actually the work of the SPD. But they let the SPD take the blame for their failings. And people will be discouraged to see him and Johnson working together. They will feel that Labour has once again let them down to become another Tory party.

I hope this is not the case, and that Starmer keeps his promises to Labour’s members. And I hope that enough of the left remains in the party to hold him to these promises, and make matters extremely difficult for him if he tries to reject them. But the evidence so far is not good.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/04/04/new-labour-leader-is-keir-starmer-the-party-is-doomed/

Starmer’s first decision as Labour leader: agreement to work WITH the Tories

Starmer’s first purge: anybody in Labour tainted with accusations of anti-Semitism

Outcry as Starmer promotes anti-Semite supporter Rachel Reeves into Shadow Cabinet

 

Elections in the Era of COVID-19How we can vote without killing ourselves — and ensure every vote counts!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 12:37am in

We need to embrace mail-in ballots so we can vote without the risk of dying in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are pitfalls. Urgent changes to our voting system must be implemented to ensure every mail-in ballot counts. Palast breaks down what these essential fixes are

The post Elections in the Era of COVID-19<div id='sec-title'>How we can vote without killing ourselves — and ensure every vote counts!</div> appeared first on Greg Palast.

Pluralistic: 31 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/04/2020 - 2:50am in

Today's links

  1. 100 Ideas for Dungeon Masters: Based on the Pathfinder Bestiary, readily adaptable for other systems.
  2. Attack Surface author's note: My latest podcast is the afterword from the third Little Brother book.
  3. Trump admits voter suppression: Proving intent was never easier.
  4. Reality endorses Sanders: Pandemics have an obvious leftist bias.
  5. Amazon fires walkout organizer: Low waged workers, doing the most important work in America, exposed to lethal risk.
  6. Monopolists stole your respirator: Dying a gasping death is pareto-optimal.
  7. Corporate welfare vs food stamps: A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
  8. How viruses experience social distancing: XKCD mixes atavistic satisfaction with science communications.
  9. Scarfolk pandemics: This isn't the worst timeline after all.
  10. This day in history: 2005, 2019
  11. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading


100 Ideas for Dungeon Masters (permalink)

Manuel Solís's "100 Ideas for Dungeon Masters" can be one-shots or whole campaigns: rev up your D100s!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L9AN-cmwCcC8VnY75GKKGuzYH0KxHWtG/view

  • The only way to end the Queen of Shadows is beat her at her game, and infiltrate the organization.
  • The war is about to explode. The daughter of the greatest painter asks the PCs escape with 30 priceless paintings.
  • The Princess is a doppelganger and has been discovered. Secretly, she reveals that the entire royal family have always been dopplegangers. We must return her to the throne and fool everyone.
  • 20 magic arrows labeled with 20 names. The quiver of revenge.
  • A local nobleman will inherit a castle if he wins a tournament, but does not know how to fight. and needs our help.
  • The circus is in town. They have a basilisk. The basilisk has disappeared!
  • In the neighboring kingdom a man sells giant turnips that turn into giants those who eats them.
  • An Aristocrats club (The club of the humbles) is a facade of a cult that worships Dark Nagas and Demons.
  • At dawn there will be a coup, and the baby who inherited the throne will be assassinated. The whole guard has resigned.


Attack Surface author's note (permalink)

My latest podcast is a reading of the author's note from "Attack Surface" — the third Little Brother book, which comes out on Oct 12.

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

I recorded this for the audiobook edition of Attack Suface, which I've been recording all last week with Amber Benson and the Cassandra de Cuir from Skyboat Media.

https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/30/authors-note-from-attack-surface/

If you like what you hear, please consider pre-ordering the book — it's a scary time to have a book in the production pipeline!

Here's the MP3:

https://archive.org/download/authorsnotefromattacksurface/Cory_Doctorow_Podcast_335_-_Attack_Surface_Authors_Note.mp3

And here's the podcast feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/doctorow_podcast


Trump admits voter suppression (permalink)

Trump went on Fox and Friends to talk about switching the 2020 election to mail-in, and said, that if you allowed everyone to vote, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

Jon Queally calls it "Saying the quiet part out loud."

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/30/saying-quiet-part-very-loud-trump-admits-youd-never-have-republican-elected-country

It's a pretty consequential slip, though. Trump was discussing the GOPs opposition to providing funding to states to retool for postal voting, which is likely to result in high-stakes litigation. And courtrooms – even ones presided over by GOP appointees – take these frank admissions of intent to heart.

Just look at the weird tale of Thomas Hofeller, creator of REDMAP and architect of the GOP's nationwide gerrymandering campaign.

Hofeller's key insight was the redistricting was "an election in reverse" where, "instead of voters choosing their politicians, politicians choose their voters." He convinced GOP donors that funding state-level gerrymanders was a huge bargain on political influence.

We know what happened next: the US became more antimajoritarian than ever and started to elect antimajoritarian politicians – politicians who embrace the core right-wing tenet that some people are better than others and those people should be in charge.

White nationalists want whites in charge. Dominionists want rule by Christian men. Libertarians want rule by bosses. But they all believe that nature made some to rule and others to be ruled.

This is a hard ideology to make work in a democracy, which is notionally a majoritarian project. To get elected, antimajoritarians have two main tactics.

The first is scapegoating. White supremacy is how the GOP gets turkeys to vote for Christmas:

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/24/grandparents-optional-party/#turkey-shoot

LBJ's Southern Strategy was remarkably frank about this: "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

Right now, the GOP and its state media organ, Fox, have opted to put its main base (old white people) into harm's way by converting high-risk activity into a marker of tribal loyalty. They could kill of a LOT of their base. It's a weird flex.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/19/gb-whatsapp/#fox-cult

But then there's the other antimajoritarian way to win: cheating (i.e. gerrymandering), which brings me back to Hoeffler.

Hoeffler was really careful about never saying the quiet part out loud.

Not only did he never admit he was gerrymandering on racial lines, he also exhorted his allies to never write down anything like this, not to send emails or make notes to themselves about it.

But Hoeffler wasn't good at following his own advice. When he died suddenly in 2018, he left behind computers and thumb-drives stuffed with frank admissions that REDMAP was a cheat, designed to steal the votes of nonwhites and other traditional Democratic voters.

Worse (for Hoeffler and the GOP), the person who inherited his data was his estranged, anarchist daughter, Stephanie. She put all that data online:

https://archive.syndicate.si/hofeller/

She dumped it all in raw form, so no one could accuse her of putting Hoeffler's deeds and intentions in a false negative light — it's all there, including materials that reflect badly on Stephanie. She was more interested in truth than her own feelings.

Before Stephanie doxed her father, court cases over REDMAP gerrymandering had been stalled and nosediving. Afterwards courts – presided over by GOP-appointed judges – had no choice but to find in favor of the plaintiffs, against GOP redistricting.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pked4v/the-anarchist-daughter-of-the-gops-gerrymandering-mastermind-just-dumped-all-his-maps-and-files-on-google-drive

Proving intent is key to prevailing in court challenges to redistricting and other election fuckery. It's really hard. The bar is set incredibly high. If the redistricters can make any sort of claim of a legit purpose for the new boundaries, they usually win.

But not when they come right out and say the quiet part out loud. When the President goes on national television and announces that he wants fewer people to vote because otherwise, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again," well…

Both figuratively and literally, Trump has a really hard time keeping it in his pants. He always says the quiet part out loud from "rapists and drug traffickers" to his statement that he would withhold aid from states whose governors criticized him.

He's really good at running across the river hopping from the back of one alligator to the next before the jaws snap closed, but that's a strategy much better suited to owning the news cycle than the courtroom.

Because courts don't lose focus when your outlandish deeds are chased by more outlandish ones, obliterating the previous scandal from the public mind. They are deliberative, slow, plodding.

Remorseless.

Remember when Trump's Muslim ban got struck down because courts weighed his statement that it wasn't a Muslim ban against his tweets where he said it was? Saying the quiet part out loud is good antimajoritarian electioneering. It's a terrible legal strategy.

Running across a river on the back of alligators works great…until it doesn't. It's hard to keep running once you lose a leg.

Trump no longer has a leg to stand on.

(Image: Michael Fleshman, CC BY-SA)


Reality endorses Sanders (permalink)

Hard to say it better than Keeanga Yamahtta: "Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders."

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/reality-has-endorsed-bernie-sanders

From Medicare for All to public broadband provision to reining in pharma to the need for worker rights to universal housing, pandemics have an incredibly unfair left-wing bias.

SF and LA can order shelter-in-place, but that doesn't magically end the plague of homelessness that was created by allowing the private sector to decide which housing got built and where.

Quarantine's incompatibility with mass incarceration is indisputable.

A nation without savings cannot survive a pandemic unchanged.

History tells us what those changes can be: the New Deal, the GI Bill, the Great Society.

We're balanced on the knife edge between two futures. In the first one, pandemic leads to fascist exterminism, the belief that poors and spoonies and olds need to be eliminated to ensure that they don't become reservoirs of pathogens.

In the second, the manifest failures of the cruel doctrine of "personal responsibility" is displaced by solidarity and the frank admission that we have a shared destiny, not just economic or social, but microbial.

We get to choose. Soon. As soon as November.


Amazon fires walkout organizer (permalink)

Amazon warehouse workers and other low-waged workers who are literally keeping us and our economy alive during the pandemic say that their employers are cutting corners, depriving them of PPE, handwashing, sick pay, etc.

It's especially bad at Amazon warehouses, where workers have staged walkouts to protest unsafe working conditions.

The walkout at Staten Island's JFK8 warehouse was led by Chris Smalls, who has been fired by Amazon.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/30/amazon-fires-staten-island-coronavirus-strike-leader-chris-smalls.html

Amazon claims that Smalls was fired for failing to observe social distancing. Read between the lines and you'll discover that they sent him home because he was a labor leader and insisted that he stay there, using epidemiology as a pretence for illegal labor practices.

Workers at Whole Foods are ready to walk out too:

https://theintercept.com/2020/03/31/coronavirus-amazon-whole-foods-strike/

And Instacart:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/whole-foods-workers-to-strike-after-amazon-instacart-employees-walk-out

It's funny, you'd think the right would be all over this. After all, the excuse for paying low-waged workers substarvation wages is that the market has set their wage there, because other people are willing to do their jobs if they don't want to.

And now, no one is willing to do those jobs, so they have a seller's market. When you have a seller's market, capitalists tell you that you should demand all the market will bear. In this case, I think that comes out to sick pay, PPE, and a giant fucking raise.


Monopolists stole your respirator (permalink)

A couple days ago, I wrote about how lax antitrust enfforcement caused America's ventilator shortage, because medtech giant Covidien bought out tiny rival Newport to kill a USG contract to produce tons of low-cost ventilators.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/30/medtronic-stole-your-ventilator/#market-oxygen

I based that post off this excellent NYT piece, which gets deep on history of the plan to produce the ventilators, and the way that Covidien killed it, and then got acquired by an even bigger company, Medtronic (who were already a horrible shithow).

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/29/business/coronavirus-us-ventilator-shortage.html

But there's even more to the story, as David Dayen writes in The American Prospect.

https://prospect.org/coronavirus/unsanitized-covidien-story-corporate-america-ventilators/

The whole story is even more of a parable about late-stage capitalism than it appears at first blush.

First of all, this kind of buy-and-kill maneuver is an epidemic in the health industries. This paper identifies 45 instances per year in which pharma companies acquire small competitors to prevent the release of low-cost competitors to their products:

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3241707

For example: Roche killed a promising hemophilia cure from small rival Spark Therapeutics, whose one-shot drug would have ended the market for Roche's once-a-month hemophilia drug Hemlibra.

Then there's Covidien's acquisition by Medtronic, which wasn't an acquisition in the traditional sense, rather, it was a "tax inversion" — a piece of financial engineering — that allowed Medtronic to move $1B in offshore money to the US tax free.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/economy/article/In-Medtronic-s-deal-for-Covidien-an-emphasis-on-5557271.php

Covidien had a long history of financial shenanigans, dating back to its years as a division of Tyco International, whose CEO was imprisoned for fraud. Covidien has variously billed itself as a US, Bermudan and Irish company.

tldr: "Covidien, a longtime corporate tax cheat and serial acquirer of competitors, scooped up a rival and scotched its most promising project, which would have significantly boosted our ability to cope with pandemics. Then it merged with an even bigger rival and lent it the same tax avoidance and corporate consolidation tactics, making the medical supply chain even more fragile."


Corporate welfare vs food stamps (permalink)

Are you an airline exec hoping for up to $32 no-strings billions from the US government? Just fill in this handy, simple form:

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Guidelines%20and%20Procedures%20for%20Payroll%20Support%20to%20Air%20Carriers%20and%20Contractors.pdf

Are you a laid off worker who needs food stamps so you and your family don't starve to death? Here's a kafkaeque form betraying a love of bureaucratic fuckery that makes Stalin look like Ayn Rand.

As Matt Stoller says, "The airline application for billions in assistance is 'what's your name and where can I send the check?' The application for food stamps requires ten pages of detailed personal financial records.'

https://twitter.com/matthewstoller/status/1244831640850964483


How viruses experience social distancing (permalink)

This week's XKCD is one of the best commentaries I've seen on coronavirus so far.

https://xkcd.com/2287/

There are real risks associated with anthropomorphizing the virus – it can feed conspiracism and xenophobia – but Randall's work at describing the public health to the pandemic from the virus's perspective is just incredibly heartening and also compelling.

What a sweet moment for your day, to imagine how your sacrifices are frustrating the virus, and simultaneously to get a rigorous, easy-to-grasp description of how social distancing and other countermeasures work. Randall Munroe is a human treasure.


Scarfolk pandemics (permalink)

You might think that this is a terrible timeline to be having a pandemic in, but it hasn't got a patch on Scarfolk, the small, conservative English town caught in a perpetual loop from 1970-1980.

https://scarfolk.blogspot.com/2020/03/social-distancing-laws-1970.html

Scarfolk is consistently brilliant. Creator Richard Littler published a great book in time for last Christmas, the "Scarfolk Annual."

https://boingboing.net/2019/10/30/the-first-scarfolk-annual-a-m.html

And his animated series Dick & Stewart is a must-watch.

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


This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Valenti signs Betamax tape for fan at Grokster hearing https://boingboing.net/2005/04/01/valenti-signs-betama.html

#15yrsago South Park-infringing trench art from Iraq https://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/8094952/

#1yrago The weird grift of "sovereign citizens": where UFOlogy meets antisemitism by way of Cliven Bundy and cat-breeding https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/29/business/sovereign-citizens-financial-crime.html

#1yrago Slovakia's first woman president is an anti-corruption, pro-immigrant environmental campaigner https://www.kgou.org/post/erin-brockovich-slovakia-elected-countrys-first-female-president

#1yrago The strange tale of Runescape's Communist republic https://thespinoff.co.nz/games/29-03-2019/free-armour-trimming-the-communist-revolution-inside-runescape/

#1yrago Internal files reveal how US law enforcement classes anti-fascists as fascists, and actual fascists as "anti-anti-fascists" https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/01/intelligence-law-enforcement-report-leftwing-terrorists-charlottesville

#1yrago America's best mobile carrier is also the first phone company to back Right to Repair legislation https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/eveezj/a-cell-phone-carrier-breaks-with-big-telecom-announces-support-for-right-to-repair-legislation

#1yrago Citing transphobic policies, 172+ googlers call for removal of Heritage Foundation from Google's "Advanced Technology External Advisory Council" https://medium.com/@against.transphobia/googlers-against-transphobia-and-hate-b1b0a5dbf76


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Mitch Wagner (https://mitchwagner.blog/), Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/).

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: Author's Note from Attack Surface https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/03/30/authors-note-from-attack-surface/

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: 30 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/03/2020 - 2:46am in

Today's links

  1. Lax antitrust killed ventilator stockpiles : The USG procured <$3k ventilators from a startup, so an incumbent bought them and shuttered them.
  2. Koch network demands an end to lockdown: While sending its staff home for their safety.
  3. Private equity firms scooping up pandemic bargains: It's not the wound that gets ya, it's the opportunistic parasitic infections.
  4. Digital rights are human rights: Why broadband should be a public utility.
  5. ACLU vanquishes the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: Terms of Service violations are not felonies.
  6. Munching Squares and Munching Tunes: The music and visuals of slow-decay phosphors.
  7. This day in history: 2010, 2015, 2019
  8. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading


Lax antitrust killed ventilator stockpiles (permalink)

40 years ago, a fabulist named Robert Bork dreamed up an imaginary history of US antitrust law in order to justify dismantling it.

This Nixon co-conspirator – beloved of Ronald Reagan – cooked up a doctrine that said that monopolies are only a problem when they raise prices in the short/medium term.

Plutes loved this idea, and 40 years later, mergers, acquisitions, vertical monopolies and other anticompetitive activities are the norm, and most major industries are dominated by as few as one, and rarely more than five firms.

The problem is that monopolies aren't just bad because they raise prices, they're bad because they are monopolies. Monopolization allows firms to attack workers, suppliers and customers, and to extract monopoly rents that can be diverted to corrupt our political process.

Which is why we don't have any ventilators.

13 years ago, the US Dept of HHS awarded a contract to design low-cost, reliable ventilators to Newport Medical Instrument of Costa Mesa, CA. The ventilators would cost <$3k, allowing the US to procure a shit-ton of them against future pandemics.

This was a problem for existing med-tech giants, who charged >$10K for competing ventilators, but under Robert Bork's antitrust theory, there was a simple solution.

In 2012, Covidien, a giant in the field, simply plunked down $100m (chump change, given its revenues of $12b that year) and bought Newport.

Then they killed the ventilator project.

I mean, not right away. First they delayed it and demanded an additional $1.4M from the US government. Then they killed it.

Covidien is now a division of Medtronic (because Bork). Medtronic is a ghastly shitshow of a company.

They're a lead villain in the fight to kill off open artificial pancreases, which free people with diabetes from being turned into ambulatory inkjet printers, dependent on manufacturers for overpriced consumables to keep their fucking organs working.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/04/looping-created-insulin-pump-underground-market/588091/

Their pacemakers and defibrillators can be wirelessly hacked to kill you where you stand.

Their stuff is so insecure, it can be hacked even before it leaves the factory.

https://www.wired.com/story/pacemaker-hack-malware-black-hat/

Naturally, they're also part of the supervillain team that assembled to kill a wave of state Right to Repair bills.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/nz85y7/apple-is-lobbying-against-your-right-to-repair-iphones-new-york-state-records-confirm

(The lack of Right to Repair legislation is a big reason that hospitals are struggling to keep livesaving equipment online during the pandemic. Thanks, Medtronic!)

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/03/right-repair-times-pandemic

The dirty trick that killed off the US's attempt to procure a stockpile of ventilators set the project back by years that, it turned out, we didn't have. Philips now has a contract to deliver what Newport couldn't. They haven't shipped.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/29/business/coronavirus-us-ventilator-shortage.html


Koch network demands an end to lockdown (permalink)

The Charles Koch network is one of the most successful dark money/influence operations in the world, an example of how a single, ultra-wealthy individual can project his will over millions of people by funding dozens of front orgs.

https://theintercept.com/2020/03/26/americans-for-prosperity-cdc-coronavirus/

Koch orgs like Americans for Prosperity were critical to the weakening of the CDC, pushing for a $1B cut to the agency in 2018, characterizing it as emblematic of "the burden overspending is placing on all taxpayers."

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6810490-AFP-2018-Budget-Cut-List.html

AFP also served as a funnel for money spent to block state Medicaid expansions, rollbacks of environmental regulations, and the $1.5T Trump tax cuts.

They sure do get shit done. Terrible, terrible shit.

Their new project? Re-opening businesses and ending covid lockdown and social distancing, asserting that firms will "adapt and innovate" to maintain safety without the need for government regulation.

In a way, I feel bad for them. It's gotta be tough to have reality's well-known left-wing bias tossed in your face with nothing but a slurry of high-grade petrodollars to soothe the wounds.

There clearly are libertarians in a pandemic. Very, very unhappy ones, experiencing scorching cognitive dissonance and engaged in heroic feats of motivated reasoning.

The kicker? AFP is on lockdown. It sent its workers home: "to ensure the health and safety of our activists, staff, and voters, our staff are working from home and are utilizing digital organizing as one way to continue their grassroots engagement."

Yeah, this is a sick burn, but also, totally normal. As Yochai Benkler points out in this lecture, even the most selfish, Rand-worshipping PE manager can be seen in playgrounds, shouting "Timmy, you share that toy!" at his toddler.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMxz7rzwee8

Sociopathy may be pareto-optimal, but no one wants to live with a child who has been raised to live in Galt Gulch, and it's hard to doom your office staff to die for want of a ventilator in good conscience.

It's not really any different from the Young Earth Creationist oil barons who direct their geoengineers to look for oil where it would be if the Earth was 4B years old, rather than 5K.

Just as every (surviving) Breatharian was found to be secretly sneaking out to 7-11 for Doritos at 2AM while claiming to survive on nothing but nutrients siphoned up through deep-breathing.

(Image: Gavin Peters, CC BY, modified)


Private equity firms scooping up pandemic bargains (permalink)

This is the crisis that private equity has been waiting for. With $1.5T in cash reserves and crippled businesses, the pandemic is a dream come true for vulture capitalists like Carlyle, Blackstone and KKR.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/25/private-equity-eyes-coronavirus-hit-industries-theyve-been-waiting.html

They're chasing "PIPEs" (private investments in public equity – discount shares in public businesses) like crazy, looking for weak businesses to buy, debt-load, asset-strip and leave to die.

Shouldn't surprise anyone: opportunistic, parasitic infections are always a present when an animal is wounded.

But this is an election year, and the Democratic candidacy has not been determined. There's only one of the final two who calls for real limits on finance.

It'll be interesting to see which impulse wins out in the PE boardrooms: greedy desire to devour good companies and shit out useless husks, or self-preserving forbearance in the face of a looming plebiscite on our regulatory future.


Digital rights are human rights (permalink)

I've been working on digital human rights for nearly 20 years now, and I remember how the idea was once widely mocked as a distraction.

Back in 2009, Finland was derided for declaring broadband a human right.

https://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/10/15/finland.internet.rights/index.html

And even by Malcolm Gladwell standards, this 2010 take on the uselessness of online activism has not aged well.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-malcolm-gladwell

The GOP and Ajit Pai's attacks on the Lifeline fund to bring broadband to rural and disadvantaged Americans are modern versions of the infection that says that the digital divide is a frivolity.

But pandemics have a well-known left-wing bias, and as the world struggles to replace f2f with digital-only, the foolishness of allowing rapacious, lazy, financialized, incompetent telcos to maintain the nervous system of the 21st Century is increasingly obvious.

Hence calls like this one, to treat broadband as a public utility:

https://qz.com/1826043/the-coronavirus-crisis-proves-internet-should-be-a-public-utility/

As I've mentioned, my city, Burbank, has a 100GB publicly owned fiber network that runs right under my foundation slab, but residents can't access it, thanks to a franchise deal with Charter, a genuinely terrible company.

As it happens, I was discussing something else with one of my city councillors yesterday and this subject came up and he asked me to send him a briefing on the subject that he could circulate to other city officials. Here's what I wrote him:

It would be a dream come true for Burbank to make its fiber network available to residential customers. Our taxpayer-purchased 100GB loop is 300X+ faster than the fastest speeds offered by our broadband monopolist, Charter.

Municipal fiber networks are beloved wherever they are found.

The only Americans who love their ISPs are customers of city-owned/operated fiber:

https://www.consumerreports.org/telecom-services/cord-cutting-continues-high-cable-pricing/

Municipal fiber is the fastest, cheapest broadband in America:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7xgne9/locally-run-isps-offer-the-fastest-broadband-in-america

(It's 50% cheaper! https://cyber.harvard.edu/publications/2018/01/communityfiber)

More than 750 cities in the US operate municipal broadband networks:

https://muninetworks.org/communitymap

Despite Trump admin warnings, it's totally untrue that municipal networks are liable to commit censorship (indeed, muni networks are constrained by the First Amendment in ways that private networks are not):

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bj49j8/fcc-falsely-claims-community-broadband-an-ominous-threat-to-the-first-amendment

The poorest predominately white community in the US – in rural Appalachia – installed a fiber network (they used a mule named "Ole Bub" to reach their most isolated homesteads!) and underwent an economic miracle:

https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-one-traffic-light-town-with-some-of-the-fastest-internet-in-the-us

The best book on this is Susan Crawford's "Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution―and Why America Might Miss It":

https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300228502/fiber

Instead of muni fiber, Burbankers are using Charter service, which is rated some of the worst in the USA. They're the company that is forcing back-office employees to come into work even if they can work from home:

https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/16/charter-coronavirus-work-home/

and in lieu of hazard pay (or PPE, or hand sanitizer), the company is providing its field techs (who enter our homes and risk us and them!) with $25 gift certificates…to restaurants that are not open and may not survive the crisis (these are also a taxable benefit for those workers):

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

(Charter got billions in the tax bill and blew it all on buybacks while dropping maintenance and capex to historic, industry-trailing lows).


ACLU vanquishes the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (permalink)

The ACLU has prevailed in a crucial lawsuit, where they argued that journalists and security researchers should be able to violate websites' terms of service without risking criminal liability under a Reagan-era anti-hacking law.

https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/federal-court-rules-big-data-discrimination-studies-do-not-violate-federal-anti

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was passed (literally) in a panic over the movie Wargames, delivering broad powers to US prosecutors to criminally charge anyone who "exceeds authorization" on a computer.

Over time, companies like Facebook (in its Power Ventures suit) converted this overly broad doctrine into a "Criminal Contempt of Business Model" statute, arguing that violating its terms of service constituted a CFAA breach.

They were assisted by prosecutors like Steven Heymann and Carmen Ortiz, who used CFAA to charge Aaron Swartz with 13 felonies and threaten him with 35 years in prison after he ignored JSTOR's terms of service and bulk downloaded articles he was allowed one-at-a-time access to.

In the years since, there have been multiple attempts to reform CFAA, but these have been repeatedly killed by Big Tech companies, notably Oracle, whose CSO has a history of threatening customers who audit its products before trusting them.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/08/oracle-security-chief-to-customers-stop-checking-our-code-for-vulnerabilities/

The result has been a deep chilling effect on researchers, from security researchers who tell us whether we can trust online products, to investigative journalists who test algorithms for bias, including bias that violates federal antidiscrimination statutes.

And this is where the ACLU has prevailed! In Sandvig v Barr, a federal judge in DC ruled that there is no criminal CFAA liability for terms-of-service violations, though he left the door open for civil liability.

But that civil liability is also being eroded: LinkedIn recently had their asses handed to them in a CFAA suit against a competitor, setting a precedent that dramatically narrows civil liability for ToS violations.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/09/victory-ruling-hiq-v-linkedin-protects-scraping-public-data

This is a really important moment for online freedom. It says that companies can't conjure up new jailable offenses merely by asserting that you have agreed that you are a criminal if you displease their shareholders.

There are still some really ghastly Contempt of Business Model laws hanging around out there, like Section 1201 of the DMCA, which makes it a felony to bypass a copyright "access control" even if you don't infringe copyright.

It's a rule that's used to felonize everything from refilling printer cartridges to accessing your own medical implant data, and (especially) getting your devices repaired by independent technicians.

At EFF, we have a longrunning lawsuit, on behalf of Bunnie Huang and Matthew Green, to overturn this law. It's slow going, but we took a huge step forward last spring.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/06/first-amendment-case-against-restrictive-copyright-law-can-proceed-says-judge

(Image: Daniel J. Sieradski, CC BY-SA)


Munching Squares and Munching Tunes (permalink)

Old PDP7 systems used Type 340 XY displays whose P7 phosphors had a slow decay process that MIT AI lab hackers used to create "Munching Squares" displays.

https://youtu.be/V4oRHv-Svwc

These were pretty cool! But even cooler was the weird "Munching Tunes" that you could listen to if you placed a small AM receiver near the display and picked up the prodigious RFI it gave off.

Munching Squares has been an option in JWZ's Xscreensaver since 1997!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXNIYpdh8Ug


This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago EFF, AT&T and Google all on the same side of this privacy fight https://www.eff.org/press/archives/2010/03/30

#10yrsago NZ MPs reject software patents http://passthesource.org.nz/2010/03/30/no-software-patents-in-new-zealand/

#10yrago Recaptioning New Yorker cartoons with "Christ, what an asshole!" https://web.archive.org/web/20060203045552/http://www.modernarthur.com/blog/christwhatanasshole.html

#5yrsago Clean Reader is a free speech issue https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/30/allow-clean-reader-swap-bad-words-books-free-speech

#5yrsago Utilitarianism versus psychopathy https://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2015/03/27/the-trolley-and-the-psychopath/

#1yrago Facebook owns Netscape https://www.jwz.org/blog/2019/03/brand-necrophilia-part-7/

#1yrago Researchers find mountains of sensitive data on totalled Teslas in junkyards https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/29/tesla-model-3-keeps-data-like-crash-videos-location-phone-contacts.html

#1yrago Animated David Byrne/Big Suit enamel pin https://www.psapress.com/products/stop-making-sense-enamel-pin


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/), JWZ (http://www.jwz.org/blog/).

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.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

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

Pluralistic: 27 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/03/2020 - 4:13am in

Today's links

  1. The US is now the epicenter of the pandemic: Trump has murdered millions.
  2. Plutes cash in on stimulus: $170B for real-estate tycoons.
  3. States prep for postal voting: But the GOP has all but murdered the USPS.
  4. "Civility" and the Confederate playbook: The right's call for "civility" has a long, dishonorable history.
  5. Boris Johnson has coronavirus: He greenlit national pox-parties, now he has it.
  6. Reasonable covid food-safety advice: Sanitize your hands and your cart, practice social distancing, and…you're done.
  7. San Francisco cocktail delivery: Courtesy of the DNA Lounge.
  8. Flu pandemic photos: Mask-slackers beware!
  9. Free hi-rez covid stock art: Make your pandemic more visually varied.
  10. Warren campaign frees its software: Free, open and universal campaigning tools.
  11. This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019
  12. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading


The US is now the epicenter of the pandemic (permalink)

The US is now the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, henceforth known as the Mar-a-Lago Virus. It has the highest number of infections of any country in the world.

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

There have "only" been 1,000 US deaths so far. The "only" is there because there are so many more to come, when the vast number of incubating cases start manifesting symptoms and begin to die.

Trump wants the country to go back to work by Easter, because in his version of the Trolley Problem, the most important thing is saving the trolley.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/25/21193670/trump-easter-coronavirus-isolation-relax-rules-economy-social-distancing

We had so much warning. But the president said it wasn't anything to worry about.

Now, a lot of people are going to die.

Most of the dead will be old – from the demographic most likely to have voted for Trump (which isn't to imply that only Trump voters will die, or that they deserve to die – only that Trump chose to put his base at risk).

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/24/grandparents-optional-party/#turkey-shoot

Many will have contracted their infections by deliberately seeking out crowded public places as the pandemic started spreading, because Fox News told them that doing so was a way to own the libs.

Fox News viewers – who skew elderly, even by the standards of TV watchers – are also disproportionately at risk from coronavirus. Fox News is now a suicide cult.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/19/gb-whatsapp/#fox-cult

But so many people will die because of this. Old people. Young people. People with disabilities. People who just had very bad luck. Kids.

And that's before you get to all the people who have car wrecks or heart attacks or slip-and-falls and can't get treatment in overloaded hospitals.

When Hoover fucked up by giving in to plutes and crashed the economy, he got tent cities, or "Hoovervilles."

Trump's fuckup will end with mass graves. Trump Mausoleums? Mar-a-Plague-Pits?

We will get through this. But Trump will have murdered so many of us before it's over.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/26/21196267/coronavirus-usa-cases-covid-19-pandemic-china-number-positive-trump


Plutes cash in on stimulus (permalink)

The stimulus package that the GOP Senate passed has the largest-ever giveaway for real-estate plutes in US tax history: $170 billion in tax-cuts over 10 years for couples with more than $500K in annual capital gains.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/business/coronavirus-real-estate-investors-stimulus.html

The President who will sign the bill into law is a real-estate investor who stands to make a fortune from it. His inner circle is packed with similarly situated rentiers.

It's the second-biggest giveaway in the stimulus package, and it will also give windfalls to wealthy oil and gas investors.

The House is expected to vote on it today.

(Image: Rich Brooks, CC BY, modified)


States prep for postal voting (permalink)

States are scrambling to prepare for a postal ballot-based election next November.

https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2020/03/23/states-begin-prep-for-mail-in-voting-in-presidential-election

Postal ballots tend to benefit Democrats, whose voters are disproportionately unable to get off work to vote, and who are more likely to live in regions where GOP statehouses have closed polling places, adding long drives and long queues for in-person voting.

That's why Red States often have state laws that prohibit unrestricted postal voting, insisting that voters must provide a "good reason" for their desire to exercise their franchise to a bureaucrat who gets to decide whether or not they can participate in elections.

Of course, if Trump throws hundreds of thousands – or millions – of (disproportionately GOP-voting) seniors into the coronavirus volcano to appease the market-gods, the survivors may be gunshy about voting in person, even if they continue as fully paid-up Trump cultists.

There are serious challenges to reorienting towards a largely postal election, including mobilizing printing resources during a lockdown.

But even more challenging is the post office itself, which is on the verge of collapse.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-postal-service-june-145683

The USPS is a miracle of self-funding resilience, a universal, small-d democratic institution that serves the whole nation. But its existence is a thorn in the side of shareholders UPS and Fedex, who donate lavishly to Congressjerks who fuck with the post office.

Requiring the post office to fund pension liabilities for workers who aren't born yet is transparent fuckery. Combine that with a sharp decline in mail usage during the lockdown and the service is now on the brink.

That would be bad news, and not just for elections. The USPS is key to America's emergency preparedness, and has been since the Cold War, when it was projected to serve as a survivor-counting/corpse-hauling service after nuclear armageddon.

It's the only institution that could deliver covid meds to every household in America in a single day.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/25/national-emergency-library/#going-postal


"Civility" and the Confederate playbook (permalink)

You may have heard conservatives insist that the reason they stick up for eugenicists and other cryptofascists is that they're standing up for "civility" against the "social justice mobs."

This rhetoric isn't new: it's literally the same thing that slavery apologists said in the runup to, and aftermath of, the Civil War: "we're not in favor of slavery, we're just opposed to the shaming and social exclusion of slavery advocates.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/08/29/conservatives-say-weve-abandoned-reason-civility-old-south-said-that-too/

When we learn about the antebellum slavery debate, we hear about slavery's defenders – but the mainstream debate over slavery wasn't about its merits, it was about the incivility of abolitionists, and how that compromised the free speech of enslavers.

Slavery advocates were cast as a disfavored minority, shouted down by mobs who refused to hear them out. But discrimination against slavers was a funny kind of discrimination: half the millionaires in America were slavers in a single southern town.

Likewise, the right-wing figures who today claim that they are censored and cast out by the intolerant left are millionaires who fill arenas and appear regularly on Fox News, the most popular cable network in America.

They publish books with Big Five publishers and go on multicity tours. They're courted by "progressive" news outlets as paid on-air commentators to provide "balance." If that's discrimination, sign me up.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, professed love of Black people, and claimed he was animated by anger at the suppression of honest debate on racial politics, unable to share "my thoughts or sentiments" about slavery in polite society.

Slavers cast anti-slavery rhetoric as "orthodoxy" and cast themselves as realists who were willing to speak truth to power.

Does that sound familiar?

The abolition movement – including Lincoln – focused on these slavery apologists, understanding that they provided the cover for the continuation of slavery.

Lincoln insisted that Douglas go beyond lamenting the angry rhetoric of abolitionists and instead describe what he stood for – beyond his support of slavers' right to "choose how they wanted to live."

He demanded that Douglas go beyond his campaign speeches against "mob rule" and state plainly whether he wanted an America with or without slavery.

In her Washington Post op-ed, Eve Fairbanks suggests that we do the same for the "reasonable right" – pin them down. Sure, you don't like "cancel culture," but what do you stand for? What kind of world do you want?

(Image: Anthony Crider, CC BY)


Boris Johnson has coronavirus (permalink)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has coronavirus.

https://twitter.com/borisjohnson/status/1243496858095411200

Under Johnson's leadership, the UK pursued a month-long plan to turn the nation into a giant pox-party, hoping to attain quick "herd immunity."

He was following a promising strategy devised for less-lethal, less-contagious flus, which was manifestly unsuited to coronavirus, as experts argued at the time. As a result, infections now rage out of control in the UK.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Coronavirus/comments/fnl0n6/im_a_critical_care_doctor_working_in_a_uk_high/#fla1iq6

During the planning of this "herd immunity" strategy, Johnson's chief advisor Dominic Cummings acknowledged that it would likely murder elderly people: "if that means some pensioners die, too bad."

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/24/grandparents-optional-party/#death-panels

After Johnson tested positive for coronavirus, Cummings was seen fleeing Number 10 Downing Street at a dead run.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/dominic-cummings-seen-running-no-114514496.html

(Image: Think London, CC-BY, modified)


Reasonable covid food-safety advice (permalink)

There's a viral (ugh) video going around in which an MD in scrubs (at home!) shows you what you should do when you come back from the grocery store. It's frankly terrifying. It's also wrong.

As Don Schaffner, a food microbiologist, notes in his thread, not only is this advice wrong, it could make you very sick — either because you ate the soap that you washed your food in, or because you left your groceries on your stoop for 3 days.

https://twitter.com/bugcounter/status/1243319180851580929

There's no evidence that washing your food with soap will kill coronavirus, and even less evidence that you can get the virus from eating. There is, however, millennias' worth of evidence that you can die from food poisoning.

Schaffner's advice for groceries boils down to: wash your hands before and after grocery shopping. Wipe down the cart handle. Shop efficiently. Keep your distance from other shoppers.

You know, common sense.

(Image: Lyza, CC BY-SA, modified)


San Francisco cocktail delivery (permalink)

Hey, San Francisco! Craving a cocktail? The DNA Lounge will deliver a mason jar's worth (~3 servings) of Black Manhattan (w/Slow and Low honey & orange infused rye), Sazerac, brown sugar margarita (w/a little orange) or lavender lemonade gin cooler.

https://www.dnalounge.com/backstage/log/2020/03/26.html

The DNA is a San Francisco institution, one that runs on a shoestring and is continuing to pay its employees, even as other SF venues (snapped up by predatory corporate behemoths) shut down.

https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/22/preppers-are-larpers/#help-dna

They've also got a bunch of livestream events coming up, including a benefit for the Gay Gaming Professionals, a Death Guild set, and Hubba Hubba Revue's Burlesquerpiece Theatre.


Flu pandemic photos (permalink)

During the 1918 flu pandemic, California went on lockdown. The governor ordered statewide shutdowns, and "mask slackers" who refused to wear masks faced arrest.

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/0030flu.0009.300/1

The California Sun has rounded up an amazing set of images of California life during the 1918 flu from libraries, museums, and other sources," in gorgeous hi-rez.


Free hi-rez covid stock art (permalink)

If this image seems familiar, that's because it's one of the only open-licensed images of the novel coronavirus, courtesy of the CDC. It's been used millions of times in just a few weeks.

https://tinyurl.com/u457y2d

An effects house called Covert has stepped in to fill the visual gap with a collection of gorgeous,crazy hi-rez covid renders: "No licensing, royalties or any credit is required for their use."

https://wearecovert.com/free-covid-19-animations-renders-images/


Warren campaign frees its software (permalink)

Elizabeth Warren's campaign has released seven of its sophisticated campaigning tools as free/open software.

https://medium.com/@teamwarren/open-source-tools-from-the-warren-for-president-tech-team-f1f27d2c7551

The Warren campaign had a large cohort of software developers and created a suite of outstanding tools, as well as making improvements to standard tools, including improvements to the texting tool Spoke that reduces the cost of using it by ~97%!

https://www.wired.com/story/elizabeth-warren-campaign-open-source-tech/

The projects are hosted on Github:

https://github.com/Elizabeth-Warren/

This isn't just an opportunity for campaigns, but also for small shops that provide integration and support to them. Obviously election campaigning is in a mess at the moment, but this is seismic.


This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Nepali media crackdown thwarted by bloggers https://web.archive.org/web/20050328204722/http://insn.org/

#10yrsago LibDem MPs won't fight for debate on Digital Economy Bill https://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2010/lib-dems-tories-and-labour-pledge-to-ram-disconnection-through

#5yrsago Top homeland security Congressjerk only just heard about crypto, and he doesn't like it https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150327/07312030462/congressional-rep-john-carter-discovers-encryption-worries-it-may-one-day-be-used-computers-to-protect-your-data.shtml

#5yrsago NSA-proof passwords https://theintercept.com/2015/03/26/passphrases-can-memorize-attackers-cant-guess/

#5yrsago Welfare encourages entrepreneurship https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/welfare-makes-america-more-entrepreneurial/388598/

#5yrsago Here's the TSA's stupid, secret list of behavioral terrorism tells https://theintercept.com/2015/03/27/revealed-tsas-closely-held-behavior-checklist-spot-terrorists/

#5yrsago San Francisco Sheriff's Deputy ring accused of pit-fighting inmates https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/S-F-jail-inmates-forced-to-fight-Adachi-says-6161221.php

#1yrago Elizabeth Warren's latest campaign plank is a national Right-to-Repair law for farm equipment https://medium.com/@teamwarren/leveling-the-playing-field-for-americas-family-farmers-823d1994f067

#1yrago Mystery solved: why has a beach in France been blighted by washed-up parts for toy Garfield phones for more than 30 years? https://www.lemonde.fr/big-browser/article/2019/03/27/l-affaire-des-echouages-de-telephones-garfield-en-bretagne-enfin-resolue_5442290_4832693.html

#1yrago McDonald's will drop opposition to increases in the federal minimum wage https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/26/mcdonalds-lobbying-minimum-wage-1238284

#1yrago Front-line programmers default to insecure practices unless they are instructed to do otherwise https://net.cs.uni-bonn.de/fileadmin/user_upload/naiakshi/Naiakshina_Password_Study.pdf

#1yrago Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez schools Republicans on the true costs and beneficiaries of the Green New Deal https://twitter.com/briantylercohen/status/1110700996282343424?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw


Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/), Slate Star Codex (https://slatestarcodex.com/), Kottke (https://kottke.org), Advertising Pics (https://advertisingpics.tumblr.com/), Fipi Lele.

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

Corona Crow: The virus is a racist

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 7:20pm in

You hear from every pol and pundit: The coronavirus does not distinguish between Black and White, rich and poor, Republican or Democrat. That’s just bullshit. This virus is one highly partisan little bug. And a racist. Call it “Corona Crow.”

The post Corona Crow: The virus is a racist appeared first on Greg Palast.

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

Democracy vs Pandemic

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 1:32am in

Let's not create a precedent for Trump to cancel the November election. Rather than argue about cancelling primaries and elections, let’s talk about how we can vote without dying

The post Democracy vs Pandemic appeared first on Greg Palast.

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