The Ticking Bomb of Crypto Fascism – In These Times

Crypto, like meme stocks, is a poor replacement for the American dream. A functional nation would end gerrymandering, pass campaign finance reform, end the filibuster, abolish the undemocratic U.S. Senate, tax great wealth, institute public healthcare and build a social safety net to ensure that no one in our very wealthy country slipped all the way through the financial cracks of life and was ruined. But that’s not the American way. The American way is to cheer on the few lucky ultra-rich people, and fete them as heroes, and look for a way to emulate them, although such a thing is mathematically impossible.

The bitterest irony, perhaps, is that while the regular folks flock to crypto because they think it’s a utopian land of opportunity for the little guy to make a buck, it is, in fact, largely controlled by a small cartel of rich investors. Just like everything else.

Source: The Ticking Bomb of Crypto Fascism – In These Times

Well said.

We’re Already Past the Point of No Return

From the Left
From the Right

These were literally back-to-back posts on Imgur’s “front page.” The underwritten war of the political class being waged by PAC’s and foreign governments on social media is literally saying the exact same things about each other, and make it seem like they are trying to tip the party balance in this country. It makes no difference.

I also see that ZeroHedge has posted a graph about sharply-increasing inflation, which I’ve been predicting for awhile now. To wit, it’s nearly doubled in just the last 6 months. The supply chain issues in every sector are the problem. They’ve all been strangled for short-term profits for at least a decade, and there’s nothing stopping the continued accretion of power through mergers in every industry.

The oligarchs have taken over this country, and are extracting all the profits from every financial sector. The top 1% own more than half the wealth in the country, and this situation can only get worse, exponentially. The tipping point has been passed. The most galling part of this is that they’ve gotten the rest of us to bicker about which party has doomed us to economic collapse, when they own both of them, top to bottom.

The oligarchs, through their media channels, will tell us that COVID has brought about this inflation, and the looming disaster to follow, but it was their profit taking which has stretched our supply infrastructure so thin that it couldn’t handle a predictable world-wide stress to begin with.

I don’t think the average person can see the utter futility about arguing Right-vs-Left politics when we’re living in a reincarnated feudalistic society, with modern-day versions of kings and lords, and vassals and serfs. Make no mistake: The idea of a democratic republic put forth in the US Constitution is dead and buried. Whatever we have right now, it is no longer a democracy nor a republic. It makes no material difference which “party” controls the government. Everyone in Washington is there to do the bidding of the largest corporations (and their officers) and the richest people (and their business interests), and they will, without fail, defer to them over the common man on every issue.

The reason we haven’t gotten socialized medicine yet is because the people running the largest health insurance companies haven’t figured out how to make even more money in such a system. As soon as they do, we’ll get an American version of the UK’s NHS the very next day.

Salesforce offers to relocate employees and their families after Texas abortion law goes into effect

In a message to employees, Salesforce said on Friday that it will help employees and their families relocate if they’re concerned about reproductive care.

Source: Salesforce offers to relocate employees and their families after Texas abortion law goes into effect

As I have been saying for awhile, which company you work for will soon matter more than which county you are a citizen of. We are truly heading for a cyberpunk version of dystopia.

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, a New Book by Cory Doctorow | OneZero

But Zuboff also claims that surveillance literally robs us of our free will — that when our personal data is mixed with machine learning, it creates a system of persuasion so devastating that we are helpless before it. That is, Facebook uses an algorithm to analyze the data it nonconsensually extracts from your daily life and uses it to customize your feed in ways that get you to buy stuff. It is a mind-control ray out of a 1950s comic book, wielded by mad scientists whose supercomputers guarantee them perp

Source: How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, a New Book by Cory Doctorow | OneZero

Like Andrew, Cory Doctorow attempts to demystify a complex situation, and succeeds with a precision that only other liberal intellectuals can sympathize with. He mocks the idea that Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Twitter, et. al., can cause us to change our behavior. And, sure, no one from those companies are holding a gun to our heads to get us to press buttons. But these companies are enormously successful in provoking people to commit to decisions they were already considering. So successful, in fact, that — en masse — there is no practical difference between this persuasion and literal mind control. Like Eric Raymond arguing against calling Jeffrey Epstein a “monster,” Cory has lost sight of the forest for the trees. At scale, it is mind control.

This has been critical to the rapid crystallization of recent political movements including Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street as well as less savory players like the far-right white nationalist movements that marched in Charlottesville.

But not “less savory players” like all the Antifa Marxists which destroyed and looted local businesses, and burned down car lots. Noted.

Cory references LBGT stories to support his argument that Big Tech can’t convince you against your personal interest, but you can easily cherry-pick this anecdata. I’ve read several accounts that tell an inverse version of the story: that people came out because peer pressure enticed them, and they later became confused with their lifestyle because it didn’t actually fit who they were. I’m not saying that these cases are the majority. Rather, I bring it up to point out that Cory’s example is incomplete and one-sided, and it actually makes an unintended case against his stated position.

Zuboff calls surveillance capitalism a “rogue capitalism” whose data-hoarding and machine-learning techniques rob us of our free will. … Controlling the results to the world’s search queries means controlling access both to arguments and their rebuttals and, thus, control over much of the world’s beliefs. If our concern is how corporations are foreclosing on our ability to make up our own minds and determine our own futures, the impact of dominance far exceeds the impact of manipulation and should be central to our analysis and any remedies we seek.

Again, Cory references Zuboff’s position, and tries to show that it’s wrong, but, at the end, the net result of the situation is the same. Zuboff says surveillance capitalism robs me of my free will, but if Google black-holes the information I need to chose a non-endorsed answer, how is that any different? Google has robbed me of my ability to choose an alternative as surely as the mocked idea of a “mind control ray.”

It can make it easier to find people who share your sexual identity. And again, it can help you to understand that what you thought was a shameful secret that affected only you was really a widely shared trait, giving you both comfort and the courage to come out to the people in your life.

This is another example of eliding the point which makes me wonder about the entire intent of the article. It would seem to me to be hard to argue that non-binary, non-heterosexual lifestyles are a “widely shared” trait, given that, even by most optimistic estimates, the combined percentage of the population is something like 5%. More likely, I suspect the fact that the number is 10% in San Francisco, pulling the number up from the rest of the country sitting at 1-2%, which gives people steeped in the counter culture a false sense of the numbers.

But monopolies are incompatible with that notion. When you only have one app store, the owner of the store — not the consumer — decides on the range of choices. As Boss Tweed once said, “I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating.” A monopolized market is an election whose candidates are chosen by the monopolist.

Fantastic point! Now, let’s talk about the duopoly of the RNC and the DNC on American politics…

But it’s not mind control.

But it’s not brainwashing.

But it’s not an existential threat.

Cory argues these things, and then expends 100 pages of writing showing that Facebook and Google are, in fact, all three.

Amazon Denies Workers Pee in Bottles. Here Are the Pee Bottles.

“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?” Amazon tweeted. Drivers say they’re being gaslit.

Source: Amazon Denies Workers Pee in Bottles. Here Are the Pee Bottles.

This is America, where the biggest, richest companies on the planet can’t even pay workers enough to let them take proper bathroom breaks. It would be funny if it weren’t so extensively documented for years, and yet our captured government does nothing about it.

This sort of unfettered capitalism is making me a liberal. We bail out companies, time after time, while they give their executives obscene bonuses, and let people fend for themselves, to try to make a living like this. This is not the sort of thing the United States should be about.

I can’t, in good conscience, continue to support an economic system like this. We’re watching a new feudalistic society take shape, in which there is an aristocracy of business owners and executives, and a proletariat of peasants that work their “fields” for subsistence. Modern-day America has all but wiped out all the middle-class economic progress of the post-war boom. The “American dream” is dead.

People are getting angry about it. I know, because I’m one of them. I think the Republicans are going to be out of power for a long time, especially if another Trump is the best they can do.

“I will slaughter you” |

Source: “I will slaughter you” |

“I lost my family, my country my friends, my home and 6 years of work trying to build a better place for posterity. And it has beginnings in that code. That code is used to root and exploit people. That code is used to blackmail people.”

“So no, I don’t feel bad one bit. You knew exactly the utility of what you were building. And you thought it was all a big joke. Im not laughing. I am so far past that point now.”

Someone literally and directly threatens an open source maintainer’s life, and a commenter on his blog post says we should look to Apple, instead of law enforcement, to “police” his thought and action. He’s already stated that he’s lost $15M of business, and his “family, friends, country, and home” because of curl’s author. This person is obviously confused about curl, and the role it played in all the things he accuses. (It’s just a command-line HTTP agent, and can’t “hack” anything that has been properly secured.) But, sure, let’s deplatform him from a cloud provider, potentially locking him out of his personal data as well. Surely, this will assuage his murderous reaction to this string of recent misfortune.

We all know how out of touch our government is in this “Web 2.0” world, but Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Google, et. al. are not even nominally accountable to the public. On the one hand, it’s frightening to think that people are looking to corporations to safeguard society. On the other hand, I suppose that people could rationally look to them because our government is so completely ineffective in our digital world.

Unless something significant happens to rebalance power from corporations to the government again, especially with respect to the digital economic and informational challenges we face, it feels like we are headed straight for a cyberpunk, citizens-of-worldwide-megacorps future that authors have been warning us about for decades. And it will happen, not because the big, scary government mandated it, but because government stopped doing anything, and corporations just took over where government left off, and did things according to the only thing that drives them: their bottom line.

Communal living concept with wellness vibe coming to San Diego

Haven Coliving houses mostly people who work in the wellness industry. There are activities like yoga and vegan cooking classes. The housing is comprised of four multi-million dollar homes that are connected to one another. “In Los Angeles, where a one bedroom in Venice would be about $3,000, our membership dues are $995,” says founder and CEO Ben Katz. Katz says that about $1,000 a month will get you a bed in a private pod in a shared room. Sheets and towels are provided and changed weekly.

Source: Communal living concept with wellness vibe coming to San Diego

This week, in “grim meathook future” news: An apartment in LA is $3,000/mo. A bunk in a flop house in San Diego is $1,000/mo, and being marketed as a “health and wellness” option.