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Let Them Eat Tech | Dissent Magazine
““Tech-for-all” campaigns build on a deep-seated tradition of modern liberals framing the problem of rural poverty in terms of the geographic and technological remoteness of rural areas. The famed Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) hydroelectric infrastructure project was one of the more notable accomplishments of New Deal liberalism, in no small part by virtue of its success in more fully integrating struggling rural communities into the national economy. Franklin Roosevelt and his brain trust believed that one of the main problems of “underdeveloped regions” in Appalachia and the broader South was their physical isolation from urban centers of capitalist production. Many New Deal architects, beginning with TVA chairman David Lilienthal, saw the project as a way of spurring economic growth by luring industry to rural places. During the early Cold War, growth-oriented liberals also funneled billions of dollars of research-and-development funds into previously overlooked areas, transforming cities like Atlanta and Charlotte and building the modern Sunbelt in the process.

Nevertheless, by the 1960s, rural areas across the South began experiencing new waves of economic uncertainty. Decades of agricultural modernization resulted in fewer rural workers being supported in farming occupations, which led to an increase in outmigration to cities, where there were more job opportunities. State leaders from both political parties responded by implementing a model of economic development that came to be known as “smokestack chasing”: using public subsidies and the promises of a low-wage and non-unionized workforce to recruit manufacturers to rural communities. This approach produced a surge in one-company towns and cities throughout the rural South—places like Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and Rocky Mount, North Carolina—which generated jobs and provided momentary economic stability. But by the late 1970s, those companies were finding even cheaper labor outside the United States, and rural towns began to undergo debilitating rounds of deindustrialization and capital flight.

A new generation of Democratic Party politicians burst onto the national scene at the height of this crisis. These “New Democrats” or “Atari Democrats” went to great lengths to distance themselves from the party’s traditional associations with the industrial manufacturing sector and its powerful labor unions, shifting their focus to relentless high-tech growth instead. Many of them hailed from Southern or Midwestern states with large rural populations that were experiencing the devastating effects of rural disinvestment, including James Blanchard (Michigan), Al Gore (Tennessee), James Hunt (North Carolina), Charles Robb (Virginia)—and, of course, Arkansas’s Bill Clinton. Their vision for how respond to the coordinated crises of deindustrialization and the decline of the agricultural sector offered a clear departure from the recent past; as Clinton boldly announced to Forbes in 1979, his first year as governor, “smokestack chasing doesn’t work.” Instead, Clinton and the other Atari Democrats looked to the success of Silicon Valley and Route 128 outside of Boston, which had recently become bastions of tech-focused industrial activity.

The New Democrats who served as governors pursued strategies that fostered collaboration between government and business, touting public-private partnerships with the high-tech sector (which had already developed a reputation for being anti-union) as the best way to help struggling communities in their states generate economic activity. The Southern New Democratic governors were members of the Southern Growth Policies Board, a state-funded research agency and policy shop focused on creating new development plans for the region. In the early 1980s, the board began laying out plans to incubate tech startups throughout the region—both in already-established local markets, like North Carolina’s Research Triangle, and in previously untapped rural areas. Clinton oversaw the creation of the Board’s Southern Technology Council, which promoted the more efficient transfer of knowledge and research between academia and industry. Tennessee Senator Al Gore, meanwhile, spearheaded the passage of a series of laws that turned the research networks controlled by the National Science Foundation over to the commercial sphere, so that both public and private sources could fund and benefit from its growth.

Clinton and Gore’s shared Southern roots, and their shared commitment to a new technology agenda, became key pillars of their successful bid for the White House in 1992. In stump speeches throughout the country, they discussed the power of technology to connect people and transcend not just partisan but also rural and urban divisions. They pledged to create a “door-to-door information network to link every home, business, lab, classroom, and library by the year 2015.” In a ceremony held in Silicon Valley during the first days of their administration, Clinton and Gore unveiled a new initiative called “Technology for America’s Economic Growth,” which affirmed that “accelerating the introduction of an efficient, high-speed communications system can have the same effect on U.S. economic and social development as public investment in the railroads in the 19th century.” They requested expanded public funding for research and development work and called on the federal agencies and Congress to eliminate regulations that hindered the private sector from investing in such a network.

These efforts culminated in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the most sweeping overhaul to U.S. communications policy since 1934. The act deregulated all segments of the industry, premised on the idea that a more competitive marketplace would help to make phone, cable, and internet service cheaper and more readily available. Taken together, these policies put into action the Democratic neoliberal faith that fueling the growth of the tech sector offered not only the clearest route to ongoing economic prosperity but also the surest means of providing a key social service.”
newdeal  neoliberalism  billclinton  hillaryclinton  rural  technology  politics  digitaldivide  broadband  broadbandforall  internet  utilities  development  ruraldevelopment  2019  lilygeismer  tennesseevalleyauthroity  algore  ataridemocrats  democrats  ronaldreagan  liberalism  fdr  franklindelanoroosevelt  appalachia  davidlilenthal  south  us  newdemocrats  jamesblanchard  jameshunt  charlesrobb  virginia  tennessee  northcarolina  michigan  arkansas  siliconvalley  technosolutionsism  capitalism  public-privatepartnerships  economics  growth  telecommunications  whiteville  hillbillyelegy  jdnance  amyklobuchar  betoo’rourke  berniesanders  elizabethwarren  california  newyork  centrism  thirdway  antipoverty  poverty  comcast  finland  switzerland  spain  españa  publicoption  publicgood  kentucky  texas  southdakota 
10 hours ago by robertogreco
Barbara Smith: Why I Left the Mainstream Queer Rights Movement - The New York Times
"A black feminist describes her disillusionment, saying many people are still marginalized, even in progressive circles.

I have not been active in the organized L.G.B.T.Q. movement for a long time.

I enthusiastically participated in the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979. About 100,000 of us were there from around the country, a good turnout but much smaller than subsequent marches — when being out and proud was less dangerous.

At the second national march, in 1987, I was invited to be one of eight major speakers. It was exhilarating to speak before a crowd of nearly one million people.

At the same time, it was devastating to see the vast AIDS quilt on display in one place for the first time, symbolizing so much human loss.

I felt ambivalent about the 1993 march. For me it was overly focused on gays in the military and in presenting our community as an affluent consumer group to win favor from the corporate mainstream. This supposed affluence was not even real except for a privileged sector of largely white gay men.

In 1999 the tight circle of organizers of the Millennium March in Washington reflected how narrow and hierarchical the movement had become.

A group of us established the multiracial Ad Hoc Committee for an Open Process. Ted Beck, Mandy Carter, Chandra L. Ford, Kara Keeling and I wrote an open letter to the march organizers titled “Will People of Color Pay the Price?”

Our efforts at opening up the organizational process were not successful. I did not attend the 1999 march or any subsequent ones. For me the Millennium March was the last straw.

I prefer to put my energy into multi-issue organizing. In the 1970s and 1980s, I co-founded the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist group, and Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press to give women of color, lesbians of color and even gay men of color a voice.

Three decades later, despite some genuine efforts to increase diversity, especially in progressive movement circles, exclusivity and elitism still divide us. We have won rights and achieved recognition that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago, but many of us continue to be marginalized, both in the larger society and within the movement itself.

One in four people in the L.G.B.T.Q. community experienced food insecurity in 2017. Twenty-four percent of lesbians and bisexual women earn less than the federal poverty line. L.G.B.T.Q. youth have a 120 percent higher risk of experiencing homelessness than heterosexual, cisgender youth.

Black men who have sex with men have the highest rates of new H.I.V. diagnoses. People who are transgender, particularly transgender women of color, experience appalling levels of violence, and this violence is exacerbated by poverty and racism.

These statistics show it is not possible to achieve justice in a vacuum. Marriage equality and celebrity culture will not solve it. Neither will political agendas focused on unquestioned assimilation. Gaining rights for some while ignoring the violation and suffering of others does not lead to justice. At best it results in privilege.

Unless we eradicate the systemic oppressions that undermine the lives of the majority of L.G.B.T.Q. people, we will never achieve queer liberation."
2019  barbarasmith  progressives  activism  oppression  inclusivity  elitism  liberation  combaheerivercollective  collectivism  gayrights  lgbtq  queer  feminism  queerrights  disillusionment  marriage  hierarchy  tedbeck  mandycarter  chandraford  karakeeling  race  poc  blackness  rights  society  us  politics  policy  homelessness  homeless  violence  marriageequality  celebrityculture  justice  socialjustice 
22 days ago by robertogreco
To fly or not to fly - The Correspondent
“Hi,

When I decided to take this job at The Correspondent, I committed to do something I said I’d never do again: I got on an aeroplane.

I still feel horrible about it. I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again.

Now that flight shame is mainstream – 1 in 5 air travellers in high income countries now admit to flying less because of climate change, according to a recent poll – my stance isn’t as radical as it was a few years ago. That’s a good thing, because it means that at last, decades too late, we’re finally waking up.

Flying to Amsterdam to meet my new colleagues at The Correspondent was the first work-related flight I took since my 2013 vow to quit flying because of the climate. It gave me a lot of time to reflect about exactly what I would (and should) do for the climate going forward.

On the way back, our plane was routed high over Greenland, to avoid a hurricane that was crossing the Atlantic in the opposite direction.

[image: A view out an airplane window high above a glacier in Greenland.]

I sent some text messages back to the rest of the team:

[12:58 PM, 9/11/2019] Eric Holthaus: Flying over Greenland right now and wow, it’s emotional

[12:59 PM, 9/11/2019] Eric Holthaus: I can see the glaciers and mountains.

[1:12 PM, 9/11/2019] Tanmoy: Oh man.

[1:12 PM, 9/11/2019] Tanmoy: This is so meta.

And then, just as I was six years earlier, I was overwhelmed with emotion.

[1:16 PM, 9/11/2019] Eric Holthaus: It feels mostly just like weight. Weight of the ice, and how enormously vast it is. Weight of the extremely brief moment of flying in an airplane on a sunny day at the peak of the melt season. Weight of all of society moving full speed ahead while this enormously important thing is happening in this quiet and stunningly beautiful corner of the world.

Being absolutist about anything is a recipe for failure

To convince me to cross the ocean, The Correspondent had assured me that my emissions would be offset ten-fold, in line with their company policy for all air travel. Now, I firmly believe that the entire business model of carbon offsets is basically bullshit.

The ethics of paying someone to leave their land, plant trees, and make sure they’re not cut down for 100 years so you can take a weekend vacation is morally repugnant. That was not what convinced me to come.

Now that I have young kids, I’ve learned that being absolutist about anything is a recipe for failure. I aspire to a vegan diet – I don’t buy animal products at home – but I make exceptions when I’m with family and friends if the decision would greatly inconvenience the group.

I’m caught in an internal battle of good vs. perfect. In practice, that means putting myself in an environment where I can produce the kind of clear truth-telling that’s on the right side of history.

But I’m not special. My flight across the Atlantic caused real harm that is irreparable in my lifetime. My own kids, some day, might never forgive me.

My writing style is sometimes exasperated because I can see the clarity of the science, and I can see the clarity of the ethics of how we should treat each other, but I still deeply feel these internal conflicts – like whether or not to fly. And I see everyone around me (including myself) essentially forgetting the gravity of this moment. I often write so bluntly just to remind myself that this is real. I am in a battle with myself, and the stakes are enormously high.

When I get particularly overwhelmed, I lapse into activist language. I become impatient in my writing, I cut corners, I try to “tell without showing”, as my editor told me last week. And I think the facts and truths we are bringing to light are profound enough to stand on their own without the absolutism that traditional journalism might demand. I need to remind myself of that. Especially on climate change, especially right now.

That’s why the public criticism of people like Greta Thunberg is so grating to me. This is not a public performance. As climate advocates, we are not putting on a show. We are not doing this so you can applaud and feel good that “the kids will save us.” There is real physical harm being done by humanity’s delay in tackling this crisis, every single day.

I still feel like flying is not OK, for any reason, ever. But in this case, what got me on the plane was the promise of telling the truth in a messy, broken-hearted way.”
flight  flying  2019  ericholtaus  climatechange  carbonoffsets  emissions  carbonemissions  travel  gretathunberg  absolutists  absolutism  flygskam  flyingshame  flightshame  aviation  airlines  airplanes  carbonfootprint 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Unmasking the secret landlords buying up America | Reveal
“America’s cities are being bought up, bit by bit, by anonymous shell companies using piles of cash. Modest single-family homes, owned for generations by families, now are held by corporate vehicles with names that appear to be little more than jumbles of letters and punctuation”

“All-cash transactions have come to account for a quarter of all residential real estate purchases, “totaling hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide,” the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network–the financial crimes unit of the federal Treasury Department, also known as FinCEN”

“The Census Bureau reports that nearly 3 million U.S. homes and 13 million apartment units are owned by LLC, LLP, LP or shell companies – levels of anonymous ownership not seen in American history.”

“The proportion of residential rental properties owned by individuals and families has fallen from 92% in 1991 to 74% in 2015.

The lack of transparency not only represents an opportunity for money laundering, but it also has more prosaic implications.”

“With anonymity comes impunity, and, for vulnerable tenants, skyrocketing numbers of evictions. It wasn’t until reporters… began to investigate… that residents living in hundreds of properties across the South learned that they shared a secret landlord… Sean Hannity.”

“Historically, in the US, the true owners of residential real estate properties have been publicly available through county recorders offices. However, for more than a decade, the proliferation of all-cash buys by shell companies has begun to obliterate that transparency.”

“Countries around the world have addressed this problem head on. … In the US, we’re on no such path to disclosure. A bipartisan anti-money-laundering bill, which passed the House in October, would require banks to systematically disclose the true owners of shell companies to FinCEN but would keep the public in the dark, stripping out all “personally identifiable information,” including anything “that would allow for the identification of a particular corporation or limited liability company.””
economics  finance  housing  2019  anonymity  ownership  homeownership  homes  impunity  legal  law  seanhannity  fincen  evictions  moneylaundering  property  argentina  australia  israel  jamaica  netherlands  russia  ukraine  aaronglantz 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay: Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2019) — Monoskop Log
"“A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share

In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.

Azoulay argues that the institutions that make our world, from archives and museums to ideas of sovereignty and human rights to history itself, are all dependent on imperial modes of thinking. Imperialism has segmented populations into differentially governed groups, continually emphasized the possibility of progress while it tries to destroy what came before, and voraciously seeks out the new by sealing the past away in dusty archival boxes and the glass vitrines of museums.

By practicing what she calls potential history, Azoulay argues that we can still refuse the original imperial violence that shattered communities, lives, and worlds, from native peoples in the Americas at the moment of conquest to the Congo ruled by Belgium’s brutal King Léopold II, from dispossessed Palestinians in 1948 to displaced refugees in our own day. In Potential History, Azoulay travels alongside historical companions—an old Palestinian man who refused to leave his village in 1948, an anonymous woman in war-ravaged Berlin, looted objects and documents torn from their worlds and now housed in archives and museums—to chart the ways imperialism has sought to order time, space, and politics.

Rather than looking for a new future, Azoulay calls upon us to rewind history and unlearn our imperial rights, to continue to refuse imperial violence by making present what was invented as ‘past’ and making the repair of torn worlds the substance of politics.”

Publisher Verso Books, London, 2019
ISBN 9781788735711, 1788735714
656 pages"
ariellaaïshaazoulay  imperialism  decolonization  books  unlearning  history  2019  via:todrobbins  politics  space  time  palestine  congo  archives  museums  libraries  knowledge  violence  srg  institutions  sovereignty  humanrights  howwethink  progress  destruction  erasure  belgium  kingléopoldii  1948  refugees  unschooling  deschooling 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
On Design Fiction: Close, But No Cigar - Near Future Laboratory
[also here: https://mailchi.mp/nearfuturelaboratory/seldom-dispatch-6-from-the-near-future-laboratory-2969593 ]

“We are super excited and thrilled that the term “Design Fiction” is being heard beyond the relatively small community of designers who have been practicing it over the last decade or so. More organizations and teams are now coming to us looking for a fresh and different approach to addressing their needs, concerns, fears, failures and ambitions that the old PowerPoint and Post-it Design Processes simply cannot handle.

This is encouraging for us as we believe the practice of Design Fiction has enormous potential.

We are also concerned — concerned for the many perspectives that present a misconstrued perspective on Design Fiction.

We appreciate the take on Design Fiction by IDEO in their Prototype the Future of Your Business With This 4-Step Design Exercise podcast. We’re fans of their work and have many friends there, so this is encouraging for us as we believe the practice of Design Fiction has enormous potential.

However, IDEOs discussion and description do not embrace the sensibilities of the canonical Design Fiction treatise, “Design Fiction: A Short Essay on Design, Science, Fact and Fiction.” We feel the need to add a few notes to rectify some of the most common confusion about Design Fiction.

[image]

Note #1: Design Fiction is about understanding implications of decision making. Design Fiction is like a design-based A/B test.

— Have an idea or a range of possible ideas?

Run it through the Design Fiction process to understand how these ideas might play themselves out. Design Fiction allows you to engage the implications of your ideas deeply by creating some possible/probable outcomes. In those engagements you are actually creating artifacts that exist in those possible/probable futures. The artifacts you create are things from the future. When you do Design Fiction, you are like some kind of time traveling anthropologist bringing back things you’ve found. When you create these artifacts, you are engaging the context of its existence — why does this exist? what kind of world surrounds it? who are the people and what are their goals and ambitions?

In this kind of Design Fiction process, the discussions with your team and other stakeholders are bound to yield new ideas. The primary activity though, is to work with your team and stakeholders to understand the implications of decision making. Implications come first. New ideas follow.

Yes, we know that organizations often want to be told the solution to their problems and Design Fiction can certainly help here, as just described. Design Fiction is about studying possible implications — not all of them ‘preferred’, but they are always pragmatic and aligned with reality — not reality distorted.

— How do we do this?

Through the Design Fiction process we create design-based tangible artifacts that represent those implications. Sometimes we refer to these artifacts as props, as if they were the objects from that future, brought back to today to be considered, discussed, mulled over, debated and reflected upon.

With Design Fiction so may get your ’new possibilities’, but you will get something more valuable: a richer understanding of the results of your ideas, good, bad, normal. This ultimately better prepares you for what happens when your idea is in the world. It allows you to de-risk based on the unexpected outcomes (which always happen).

Design Fiction does something no other design process does — it analyzes the outcomes of decision making today, so you have a clearer perspective and understanding of your possible/probable futures.

[video: TBD, A Design Fiction Intervention https://vimeo.com/107034605 ]

Note #2: The Design Fiction process produces tangible future artifacts. It does not produce written stories about a future state. This is a common and understandable misconception, probably based on the fact that the word “Fiction” is in the name.

Design Fiction is not a literary style, nor a purely dystopian visual style, despite its roots in Science Fiction and more specifically the important work of Near Future Laboratory Ambassador, His Eminence, Bruce Sterling, one of the founding fathers of the cyberpunk genre and aesthetic.

If you end up with a draft of a short story or a few paragraphs of a typical UX interaction scenario, or a storyboard, or a little film of someone swiping on a screen to show how your App idea would work — you have not done Design Fiction.

What you’ve done is write a short story, which can only possibly be read as a short story. You haven’t created a designed artifact that is the result — an implication — of a set of decisions, current conditions and other inputs, and wrote something down about it.

What you should ideally produce is something a casual observer may mistake for a contemporary artefact, but which only reveals itself as a fiction on closer inspection. It should be very much “as if..” this thing really existed. It should feel real, normal, not some fantasy. Nor should it be construed as a representation of the future — like a short story, or an illustration of some kind of interaction. (My favorite example of an artifact based on a recent workshop? A pizza menu — from the near future. An actual menu that describes a future state of food tastes, ingredients, means of payment, etc.)

[image]

Note #3: Creating an artifact forces you to get into the details of your future world in a way that writing a story does not. When writing, it is easy to skip over uncomfortable details in favor of the “big picture”. Design Fiction makes you sweat the details. For example, if you create a Quick Start Guide for a Self Driving Car there are myriad topics that would need to be addressed to describe how to activate, switch into Uber mode, upgrade firmware, etcetera.

— What should you do then if Design Fiction is more than writing stories?

You should be creating artifacts from that world and going through the work of actually making them — not writing about them.

If you’re exploring a future of self-driving cars and the implications for urban policy, create a physical map for a city as might be given out to the local public, or tourists. What would be in the map and why? Have debates with stakeholders about the challenges that would be faced, the failures that might occur, the brand names of services, new kinds of signage, etcetera. Now you’re doing Design Fiction.

[image]

[video: #m3k – Design Museum Design Fiction https://vimeo.com/305574698 ]

Note #4: Creating artifacts happens early.

Design Fiction is called Design Fiction because it adheres to the principle of making-things-with-which-to-think. If you do this at the end, you’ve missed the point of Design Fiction. You have missed the opportunity to discuss, discover with your team and stakeholders the implications of decision making.

[image]

[video: Lost AI Notice – Design Museum Design Fiction https://vimeo.com/305574970 ]

Note #5: Design Fiction does not bias towards “perfect” or preferred outcomes — not because we wouldn’t like these, but because we’re pragmatic.

We are skeptical optimists. We have been doing this long enough to know that such things are always mired in the intractably complicated ways in which earnestly naive ideas (particularly from Silicon Valley) are disconnected from the way they are received and reacted to in the real world.

Most design processes fail to indicate the risks and challenges of decision making today. They are all “Blue Team” exercises that can only imagine the perfect outcomes. The world does not work this way. Decisions today never lead to ideal outcomes. Design Fiction allows you to run through multiple perspectives, multiple outcomes (Good. Neutral. Bad. Ugly.) It’s your “Red Team” exercise that goes along with the hopeful, optimistic outcome that explore a rich, wide, fulsome set of outcomes represented in tangible artifacts — Instagram Stories, YouTube Unboxing Videos, Customer Testimonial Videos (good ones, bad ones), a lower-thirds chyron crawl describing some epic fail of your idea as shown on Fox News, A Quick Start Guide that forces you to figure out how your “idea” would actually work so you can discover that even you can’t (yet) describe how it would actually work. These truly tangible futures help decision makers assess not only their “ideal” outcomes (which we always hope for and, if you’re honest, rarely get perfectly) but the neutral and completely failed outcomes.

This is also one of the reasons why we have pioneered a perspective on the future that we call “The Future Mundane”. There’s too much richness to summarize here but you can hear Nick Foster talk about Future Mundane at dConstruct. Here is Nick’s original essay on the Future Mundane.

[video: The Future Mundane https://vimeo.com/139358108 ]

3 Main “Take Aways”:

1. Design Fiction isn’t a literary form.

2. Design Fiction creates a range of possible future implications of decisions made today.

3. If you want to do Design Fiction, you should come to the folks who pioneered it — the Near Future Laboratory.”
designfiction  speculativedesign  nearfururelaboratory  2019  brucesterling  fiction  sciencefiction  artifacts  objects  design  definition  writing  howwewrite  making  anthropology  ethnography  film  filmmaking  video  decisionmaking  prototyping  futures  futurism  shortstories  storytelling  implications  nicolasnova  julianbleecker  nickfoster  fabiengirardin 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Bong Joon-ho Discusses PARASITE, Genre Filmmaking And The Greatness Of ZODIAC - YouTube
“When directing the movie, I tried to express a sentiment specific to Korean culture, and I thought that it was full of Koreanness if seen from an outsider’s perspective, but upon screening the film after completion, all the responses from different audiences were pretty much the same, which made me realize that the topic was universal, in fact. Essentially, we all live in the same country called Capitalism, which may explain the universality of the responses.”



“As a matter of fact, i didn’t set out to deal with the theme of class struggle. When we look around, however, we can identify both the poor and the rich, and the disparity can be seen everywhere. In depicting their unique stories and situations, the topic emerged organically.“
bongjoon-ho  capitalism  akirakurosawa  alfredhitchcock  film  filmmaking  2019  influence  interviews  video  thehost  okja  parasite  snowpiercer  genre  thegreatescape  johnsturges  korea  universality  us  world  classstruggle  class  inequality  neoliberalism  latecapitalism 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Too anxious to press play
"At first, I thought my brain was broken.

Every time I had a spare evening, I would sit down in front of my TV, open Netflix, and be presented with an array of brilliant film and TV. After 20 or 30 minutes of hemming and hawing, I'd watch something I'd already seen before.

Up until recently, I assumed I had so damaged my attention span with social media, games, and screens in general, that I had lost the capacity to engage with anything remotely smart or interesting. And maybe that's true. But last week, I tweeted about my affliction, asking if anyone else had ever felt this strange aversion to starting a new movie or show — and the response was overwhelming. Even with my modest follower count, more than 100 people chimed in with similar experiences. It was fascinating. And just as interesting were the variety of reasons people cited for their aversion to pressing play: stress, anxiety, the content of most modern entertainment, a fear of missing out, or a fear of wasting time — it was a long list.

Here we are at a moment in history where we are spoiled for choice when it comes to entertainment, and this is stressing some people out. What's going on?

My Netflix dilemma is hard to explain. The feeling I get when confronted with a decision about what to watch is almost like revulsion, as if I've been assigned a task I hate and am loath to start it. I should just pick what I want to watch and be happy with my choice. But we've become familiar with how the digital world has changed things. Now, we have the paradox of the "tyranny of choice," a concept from psychologist Barry Schwarz, which suggests abundant choice makes people miserable because it paralyzes them with too many options.

That makes an intuitive kind of sense. Not only do we now have Netflix, but also Disney+, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, regular cable TV, traditional movies, not to mention the entirety of the internet, including the seemingly limitless content on YouTube.

With such an array of content, our day-to-day choices have become loaded. Instead of there being one thing everyone you know is talking about, the fragmentation of shared culture means that in order to participate in some fashion, you have to pick one stream or another. Even now, cultural discourse is lit up with talk of Succession, Watchmen, The Mandalorian, Marriage Story, The Irishman, not to mention the films nominated now that we've reached award season. You can't watch all of them — who has the time? — so maybe it's just easier to give up.

Many people who responded to my tweet said that delving into challenging material was particularly difficult, especially given the problems on display and ever present in our various social media feeds. When it feels like fascism is on the rise or that climate change will kill us all, who wants to slog through an awkward or difficult film, when you could instead just watch reruns of The Great British Baking Show?

The tension between entertainment that is comforting and that which is challenging is centuries old. In Western literature, everyone from Sir Philip Sydney to Alexander Pope to Immanuel Kant made the argument that good work required effort to understand — that it needed critics to tease out its meaning.

That dynamic turned into its own sort of culture war: Are you going to engage with something hard and artistic, or are you going to wallow in mainstream pablum? That kind of elitism has, for a variety of reasons, fallen out of favor. But perhaps it's not just that postmodernism has reconfigured how we create hierarchies of art, but more simply that when there is too much stuff, things that are easy suddenly feel more valuable.

We tend to think art is a mirror held up to society. But in times of great change or distress, it's important to remember German playwright Bertold Brecht's rejection of that notion. He said "art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it." You would think that in these difficult times, we would want art to challenge the status quo, that we would gravitate toward film and TV that speaks to how we might react to dark forces rising. But is it possible that the rise of digital technology is changing the social function of entertainment, more sharply cleaving a line between the sort that is meant for pleasure and the kind that is meant to edify, or connect you with, the human?

That is perhaps too large a question for now. But it seems there is something about modern life that is changing how we relate to the things we previously used as distraction tools. With the infiltration of work into daily life, to-do lists pinging on our phones, and a set of digital tools designed to keep us hooked and never at rest, is it any wonder that YouTube is preferable to a hard film about a failing marriage? Maybe my brain is broken. But maybe, as 2019 draws to a close, it isn't the only thing that is."
navneetalang  2019  netflix  streaming  choice  barryschwartz  paradoxofchoice  indecision  time  amazonprime  primevideo  hulu  disneyplus  apple  tv  television  video  culture  elitism  postmodernism  highbrow  lowbrow  youtube  distraction  attention 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Technology did more good than harm this decade
"It's true that, as the scale and pace of technology increased, mistakes were made, lessons went unlearned, and now we have tech companies constantly making privacy violations, enforcing dubiously defended policies, and struggling to take responsibility for the change they have inflicted. But the idea that tech is only a tool is worth poking at, and so is the presumption that it only had negative consequences this decade. Quite to the contrary, it's worth remembering that technology helps many people, and it has especially helped the marginalized.

Just to start small: There was a time not very long ago when you had to yell through a landline to talk to someone overseas. Now, immigrants, refugees, and diasporas of all kinds can communicate simply and almost for free with people across the globe from their smartphones. This is about more than convenience — it's a way of fostering community and connection in what can often be the alienating experience of migration.

For refugees in particular, smartphones provided a lifeline. For the millions fleeing Syria, for example, smartphones were a way to connect with home, aid, and burgeoning communities in their new countries.

Tech thus enables people at the margins of society to find help and find each other in ways that would have been more difficult in prior eras.

But even in comparatively wealthy societies, that capacity of tech to gather people can still produce massive change. In North America, Black Lives Matter and the indigenous movement Idle No More arose in part because of how they were broadcast online, allowing the groups to recruit, get a message out against a hostile media, and coalesce around an idea.

Something similar could be said for the #metoo movement, which naturally found its home online. Beyond that, the general focus on social justice, whether trans rights, race relations, or a growing resurgence of socialism, all found a base and communities online. Would trans people have been able to highlight the enormous prejudice they face as quickly without the web? It seems unlikely.

I'm not trying to be contrarian while others are pointing out the many, very real downsides of the new digital era. Rather, it's important to remember that historical change is ambivalent. Technology's role in that change isn't to be a tool, but something that reforms and reconfigures reality.

The classic example of this comes from German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who suggested that something like a hydroelectric dam doesn't just generate electricity out of the movement of water, but actually makes us reconceive the Rhine river as a thing to be harvested, redirected. Tech isn't an addition to an already existing reality; it creates a new one.

That's an important distinction, because it reframes the conversation around whether tech is good or bad. It forces us to ask what we wish to do with a new reality.

Because for all the ways in which tech can genuinely help marginalized people, it is also the thing that will disproportionately harm them. If and when facial recognition technology is deployed by the police, it will be the poor and racialized who will be unfairly targeted. If social credit systems are used to judge people, as is starting to happen in China, it is hard to believe it won't be the underclass who will suffer. And there is more broadly the pre-existing digital divide, in which upper- and middle-income people have access to tech, which in turn can give them a leg up in school or the workplace.

For all that risk, it's worth pointing out that the groups in society usually trodden underfoot have also used tech to collect themselves, push back, and ameliorate their lives. That is worth remembering too: We are not simply pawns subject to power, but people who can also resist it. And as the decade draws to a close and a new one dawns, we need to consider more than whether or not technology is harming us. We need to ask what we can do with tech to empower the marginalized."
navneetalang  2019  technology  resistance  empowerment  socialmedia  communication  race  digital  reality  heidegger  rhineriver  #metoo  blacklivesmatter  organizing  socialjustice  idlenomore  smartphones  refugees  distance  syria  smarthphone  mobile  phones  migration 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The iPad's Identity Crisis
“Apple is pushing the iPad at people like me, people who have an iPhone, likely have AirPods, and are looking for a device that they can use at home when their only real computer is what they’re given at work. We’re deep in the Apple ecosystem, and have been for years, and here’s another opportunity to stay in it without paying too much of a premium. That’s the idea at least.

The iPad is pretty good—and it could be a lot better if I could get over the identity whiplash I get every time I use it. My biggest problem is that while it’s leaning hard towards being a laptop, Apple’s indecisions about its other qualities keep dragging it back into this murky grey area that doesn’t make it the perfect substitute that Apple’s marketing wants it to be. This isn’t about the OS or the keyboard. It’s almost entirely an apps problem.

The biggest (and worst) way that this rears its head is how the iPad, upon setup, downloads all of the apps that have ever been in your iCloud—even if they’re not iPadOS compatible. After deleting all of the superfluous apps that I don’t use anymore (here’s looking at you, flashlight app from 2009), I was left with many of the ones I use on my phone like Google Drive/Docs/etc (ones that seemed obvious that I’d be using on the iPad), but also ones that I use all the time, but absolutely suck on the iPad, like Co-Star and Venmo.

While I might find myself using an iPhone-first app like Instagram or Tinder on desktop in a pinch, I almost always reach for my phone since they’re apps… clearly designed to be used on my phone. The iPad OS versions are a different kind of as useless as the desktop variants. Many are the iPhone version, stuck in portrait mode and teeny tiny in the center of the screen. Yeah, I could use them, but it’s a shitty experience that leaves me picking up my phone instead.

For most people, it doesn’t make sense to have these iPhone only apps on the iPad if they’re trying to use it as a stand-in for the laptop: If you’re not going to use these apps on desktop, then you absolutely don’t need them on this device.

So from the second you sync your brand new device with your iCloud login, you’re left confused about why Apple’s replicating your phone on something bigger and with a keyboard. There should at least be an option to opt-out of getting all of the apps to immediately start downloading to the device.

For many of the apps like this that get automatically downloaded when you sync your login, there aren’t even iPadOS compatible versions, and that’s a huge blow off the bat for the credibility of the iPad for someone like me. It’s a big issue for Apple if they still can’t get Instagram to make an iPad-compatible version of the app after all these years, and yet it still automatically shows up to disappoint users.

Google’s another problem. Obviously Google wants you to be using Chrome OS. But even so, you want a Google Docs app on the iPad that’s a full-fledged replica of what you have in-browser on desktop. But that’s not what you get, neither here nor in the Gmail app either. There are some key formatting functions that are missing, like being able to add a hyperlink in an email. So even though the apps are theoretically compatible with iPad, the functionality is closer to that of what you’d find on your iPhone. The young people that Apple is targeting with the iPad aren’t all using Pages or the Mail app, and if Apple needs to get these devs on board if they want that demographic to get their product instead of a Surface or cheap Chromebook. Apple may own the tablet market, but it’s clear that they’re still dragging developers in.

These identity issues continue to the hardware too. The attachable Smart Keyboard mostly gets the job done, but its flimsiness makes it nearly impossible for me to actually use it on my lap on the couch, which is where I’m writing this review (for transparency, I started off writing it on the iPad, but since this is for work, eventually I caved and ended up finishing it on my GMG-issued 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro). It also tends to tip over when it’s not on a flat surface, which isn’t ideal for one of the two main activities I’ve used my iPad for while reviewing it: Watching Bon Appetit’s Gourmet Makes YouTube videos in bed as the melatonin kicks in.

But beyond apps and hardware issues my number one annoyance with the iPad’s design is that I can’t turn the sound notifications completely off without having them be off forever. It doesn’t have the ring/silent switch, which would have been the one holdover from the iPhone that I would actually love to see on the device. How hard should it be to watch a video without also hearing the pings of messages I’m receiving if that’s status quo on the iPhone?

But all that being said, trying to use the iPad as a computer isn’t a total failure. It can work, but it’s going to frustrate you and have you grabbing for your work computer if you, like me, are just looking for a cheap way to not have to forfeit your privacy by using your work computer for personal things.

I’ve really liked how Split View and Slide Over allow me to multitask, to some extent. I can have my all-important iMessage window open as I use my browser, or can use Slack and read Gizmodo if I have to use the iPad while working from home. Yes, I like how I arrange multiple windows better on a laptop, but the iPad works for what it is.

And while I’ve been frustrated with the iPad’s half step between phone and desktop there are also some apps that I like using better on the iPad than I do elsewhere. I’m really into cooking and bought the Google Home Hub last year to use in the kitchen for its recipe functionality. And while that’s fine, it’s still not compatible with the New York Times Cooking App. But that app looks gorgeous on the iPad, and sits perfectly on my toaster oven (while not in use, don’t worry!) for me to reference while I’m making dinner.

The question that remains is whether or not it’s worth buying. Even with all of the flaws, the iPad is still a “cheap” alternative that might be worth it for me. The privacy concerns of using your work computer for personal tasks should freak us all out, no matter whether it’s for doing taxes, or watching Netflix. The iPad can be a great tool for more general tasks, like reading articles while I’m at the hair salon, watching videos, or dicking around on the internet. You just can’t go into using one expecting a computer, because you’re going to be disappointed. You can’t believe that they’d be able to deliver what you get on a MacBook Pro on a device that’s nearly $1000 cheaper. It’s Apple! At the end of the day, the iPad feels like a cautionary tale for what happens when you’re too enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem. And if you’re not? Go buy a Chromebook.”
ipad  2019  emilylipstein  computing  chromesbooks  ios  apple  applications  notifications 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Bong Joon-ho profile: How the Parasite director is weaponizing the blockbuster.
"Parasite launches with a whole series of scams, but the two clans are initially connected when the poor son passes himself as a college-educated English tutor to obtain a job teaching the rich daughter. Thus, the film’s original complaint—though it soon gets to many, many others—is about the way globalization compels everyone who wants to compete in the international marketplace to learn English.

As a filmmaker making movies in that marketplace, Bong seems to feel that pressure personally, and he has responded by turning that power imbalance on its head—by peppering his movies with gags that can’t travel beyond Korean borders alongside the many jokes that do. Even the two largely English-language movies he’s made contain in-jokes that could only be enjoyed by those who speak Korean. In Okja, a line of Korean dialogue that the subtitles translate as “Try learning English. It opens new doors!” actually means something completely different that could never be rendered in English. And in Snowpiercer, Song’s cranky security expert Namgoong Minsu, upon being reluctantly conscripted into the insurgent forces of Chris Evans’ strapping leader, unleashes a torrent of grunts and growls to which the rebels’ automated translator responds only, “Unknown words found. Please try again with correct vocabulary.” Korean audiences will understand (and possibly relate to) what Namgoong has actually said: He corrects the way the American leader keeps calling him “Nam,” telling him, “Nam-goong is my last name! Min-soo is my first name. Got that, you ignorant bastard?”

Bong resisted the idea that he planned his latest as a homecoming after his two semi-American projects, telling me “Parasite was conceived and greenlit by 2013.” In our conversation, he ping-ponged often between the auteur who had to satisfy himself first and the showman who had to attract enough moviegoers to continue to turn a profit on budgets in the tens of millions. Ultimately, he claimed he is too concerned with the intricate plotting and meticulous staging of his movies to strategize about how to communicate across cultures.

Bong similarly retreated when I asked him why Parasite has become such a sensation in America. So let me try. Yes, it’s foremost a superb film—not a blockbuster, per se, but the rare film that’s both an unabashed crowd-pleaser and a thematically dense art film. In many ways a culmination of Bong’s work thus far, it pieces together many of his favorite elements: lovable but self-deluded characters, nail-biting action sequences, unexpectedly earthy humor (even Bong’s artiest films have poop jokes), and a keen sense of moral outrage mixed with open-armed empathy for the less-than-upright. Despite the seriousness of Bong’s films, his magic trick lies in continuing to pull fun out of even the direst of circumstances.

But dozens of great films pass through art house theaters every year with nary a peep, and Parasite has one more trick up its sleeve. It seems to rake across so many raw nerves on this side of the Pacific because it arrives at a time when our own notions of Americanness—that ineffable sense of satiety and opportunity that so many hunger for all over the world—has never felt so diffuse, disputed, or unattainable. No one knows better than Americans just how hollow our country’s promises can be. Blockbusters made everyone feel like an American—that version of Americanness we all wish were true—for at least a couple of hours. Bong’s latest act is reconstructing that whole dream before our eyes, as vividly as we’ve ever seen it before, and then, in one last twist, making it vanish."
bongjoon-ho  inkookang  2019  film  korea  hollywood  filmmaking  inequality  environment  us  parasite 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
A Decade of Liberal Delusion and Failure | The New Republic
"The Democrats’ fecklessness, in other words, did not flourish in a partisan vacuum. It has been, at every juncture, inspired and influenced by the complete failure of the right to self-police. The American right, like the housing market and the banks and the hedge funds and the health insurers and providers, simply could not be induced to check its basest instincts in the face of an opponent that staked its entire political credibility on the promise that it could make Republicans fall in line with realigned incentives or One Weird Trick. If liberals want to get the next decade right, after the previous one in which we repeatedly failed to save the world while telling ourselves we were doing so, we will need to stop nudging and begin fighting."
2019  liberalism  barackobama  hillaryclinton  donaldtrump  technocrats  alexpareene  policy  government  us  afghanistan  jonmeacham  economics  inequality  socialism  greatrecession  noamscheiber  franklinfoer  georgewbush  johnjudis  2009  newdeal  fdr  austangoolsbee  timothygeithner  affordablecareact  obamacare  healthcare  medicaid  democrats  republicans  suzannemettler  governance  medicare  socialsecurity  ashleyford  glennbeck  tuckercarlson  seanhannity  howardkurtz  michellegoldberg  alexjones  michellemalkin  ronpaul 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Collapse of Neoliberalism | The New Republic
"We should not be surprised by these dynamics. The arc of neoliberalism followed a pattern common in history. In the first stage, neoliberalism gained traction in response to the crises of the 1970s. It is easy to think of Thatcherism and Reaganism as emerging fully formed, springing from Zeus’s head like the goddess Athena. But it is worth remembering that Thatcher occasionally pulled her punches. Rhetorically, she would champion the causes of the right wing. But practically, her policies would often fall short of the grand vision. For example, she refused to allow any attempt to privatize the Royal Mail and the railways. She even preferred to use the word denationalization to privatization, thinking the latter unpatriotic and far too radical. The central problem, as she noted in her memoirs, was that “there was a revolution still to be made, but too few revolutionaries.”

A similar story can be told of Ronald Reagan. Partly because he faced a Democratic House of Representatives, conservative radicals were occasionally disappointed with the extent to which the Reagan administration pushed its goals. Under Ronald Reagan, William Niskanen writes, “no major federal programs … and no agencies were abolished.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was created during the Reagan administration, and President Reagan signed a variety of environmental laws. Early leaders were not as ideologically bold as later mythmakers think.

In the second stage, neoliberalism became normalized. It persisted beyond the founding personalities—and, partly because of its longevity in power, grew so dominant that the other side adopted it. Thus, when the Tories ousted Thatcher and replaced her with John Major, they unwittingly made Thatcherism possible. Major wanted to offer Britain “Thatcherism with a human face,” and he set himself to smoothing out the rough edges. The result was to consolidate and advance the neoliberal project in Britain. When Major was elected in his own right, in 1992, he got more votes than Thatcher ever had—and more than Tony Blair received in 1997. As Major himself noted, “1992 killed socialism in Britain.… Our win meant that between 1992 and 1997 Labour had to change.”

The American story is similar. Reagan passed the torch to George H.W. Bush. Although Bush was not from Reagan’s political camp within the Republican Party (he had challenged Reagan for the presidency in 1980 and was viewed with skepticism by the true believers), Bush moved to embrace Reaganism in his campaign commitments. At the same time, with the losses of Carter in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984, and Michael Dukakis in 1988, Democrats began to think they had to embrace neoliberalism as a path out of the political wilderness.

Eventually, however, the neoliberal ideology extended its tentacles into every area of policy and even social life, and in its third stage, overextended. The result in economic policy was the Great Crash of 2008, economic stagnation, and inequality at century-high levels. In foreign policy, it was the disastrous Iraq War and ongoing chaos and uncertainty in the Middle East.

The fourth and final stage is collapse, irrelevance, and a wandering search for the future. With the world in crisis, neoliberalism no longer has even plausible solutions to today’s problems. As an answer to the problems of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity, it offers more of the same or, at best, incremental and technocratic “nudges.” The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to confront the collapse of the middle class and the spread of widespread economic insecurity. The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to address the corruption of politics and the influence of moneyed interests in every aspect of civic life—from news media to education to politics and regulation. The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to restitch the fraying social fabric, in which people are increasingly tribal, divided, and disconnected from civic community. And the solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to confront the fusion of oligarchic capitalism and nationalist authoritarianism that has now captured major governments around the world—and that seeks to invade and undermine democracy from within.

In 1982, as the neoliberal curtain was rising, Colorado Governor Richard Lamm remarked that “the cutting edge of the Democratic Party is to recognize that the world of the 1930s has changed and that a new set of public policy responses is appropriate.” Today, people around the world have recognized that the world of the 1980s has changed and that it is time for a new approach to politics. The central question of our time is what comes next."
neoliberalism  economics  government  policy  failure  politics  2019  ganeshsitaraman  greatrecession  finance  alangreenspan  barackobama  josephstiglitz  capitalism  latecapitalism  imf  coldwar  monetarypolicy  banking  competition  inequality  monopolies  us  margaretthatcher  society  class  privatization  ronaldreagan  ideology  technocrats  reaganism  thatcherism  denationalization  georgehwbush  jimmycarter  waltermondale  michaeldikakis  2008  crisis  richardlamm  1982 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Obama legacy is not what many liberals think
“Obama’s illegal refusal to prosecute Bush-era torturers is not mentioned either in Audacity, nor his illegal justification for their crimes. Neither is his decision to back the CIA to the hilt in its bureaucratic trench fight with the Senate Intelligence Committee over suppressing the Senate torture report — recently dramatized in the film The Report.

Centrists like Chait have long pushed the idea that Obama’s style of finance-friendly moderation, which dominated the Democratic Party from the 1970s through 2016, is the best possible political stance. The idea that Obama might have been handed a golden opportunity to restore American institutions and bungled it in a doomed attempt to preserve the status quo is not an attractive one for them. So perhaps easier to just not mention the above parade of gruesome failure when boosting up such a “legacy.””
barackobama  legacy  2019  ryancooper  jonathanchait  centrism  democrats  greatrecession  billdupor  recoveryact  michaelgrunwald  fdr  ryangrim  georgewbush  larrysummers  christinaromer  economics  economy  policy  politics  2008  2009  2016  donaldtrump  carolynsissoko  timothygeithner 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Varshini Prakash Is on the 2019 TIME 100 Next List | Time.com
"I’ve been fighting climate change for 25 years, and I’ve never seen a movement for climate action like the one we are witnessing today. A new generation is speaking with moral clarity about the need for bold action to defeat the climate crisis, with a new focus and intensity. Varshini Prakash—the executive director of the Sunrise Movement, which has fiercely advocated for proposals like the Green New Deal—is one of those visionary leaders who are fighting for their futures. I believe that 2019 will be remembered as a turning point for the climate: Varshini and other young leaders have permanently fixed climate change into the nation’s conscience as a moral imperative, an issue of economic justice and a way to create millions of jobs across America. Personally, I find the leadership of Varshini and the Sunrise Movement to be some of the greatest sources for hope in our fight against the climate crisis. The young people are leading this fight, and because of them, we will all win."
varshiniprakash  jayinslee  sunrisemovement  2019  greennewdeal 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Anab Jain | Imagining What the Future Looks Like | SkollWF 2019 - YouTube
"Anab Jain, Co-Founder and Director of Superflux, presented an imagined future as both a cautionary tale and a provocation for the possible. “Bring the future close enough to feel,” she urged the gathering. “Together we can find the tools to transform our greatest challenges into our greatest triumphs.”

Anab Jain is a filmmaker, designer and futurist. She creates worlds, stories and tools that provoke and inspire us to engage with the precarity of our rapidly changing world. Following an extensive career in the design and foresight industry, working for some of the world’s biggest organisations such as Microsoft and Nokia, she co-founded Superflux, an experimental design, foresight and technology studio in London, UK. Alongside her practice, Anab is Professor and Programme Leader for Design Investigations at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Over the last 15 years,

Anab has gained international recognition for her work and commentary on design, innovation, emerging technologies and complex futures. She is the recipient of the Award of Excellence ICSID, UNESCO Digital Arts Award, and Grand Prix Geneva Human Rights Festival, as well as awards from Apple and the UK Government’s Innovation Department. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA New York, V&A Museum, Science Gallery Dublin, National Museum of China, Vitra Design Museum, and Tate Modern. Anab has delivered talks and keynotes at several conferences including TED, MIT Media Lab and MOMA’s first design summit ‘Knotty Objects’, PICNIC, NEXT, WCIT2010, LIFT, SIGGRAPH, Global Design Forum, EPIC, Design Engaged and FuturEverything.

About the Skoll World Forum:
Each year, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders, and strategic partners gather at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School to exchange ideas, solutions, and information. The Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship is the premier international platform for advancing entrepreneurial approaches and solutions to the world’s most pressing problems."
anabjain  2019  superflux  future  futurism  designfiction  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  design  futures  fiction  1984  georgeorwell  fakenews  politics  donaldtrump  storytelling  reality  perception  narrative  sensemaking  weaksignals  emotions  memory  memories  antiicipation  nearfuture  experience  simulation  simulations  emergingtechnologies  ethnography  anthropology  complexity 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Carolina Caycedo's water portraits out of difficult environmental stories - Los Angeles Times
"While the politics of water have been a central theme, Caycedo’s explorations extend well beyond that.

Her work delves into issues of environmental justice, feminism and displacement. She is also a keen observer of the ways in which historical narratives are deployed: what they put forth and what, for purposes of myth-making, they leave out."
carolinacaycedo  clockshop  2019  carolinamiranda  art  rivers  losangeles  orangecounty  huntingtongardens  water  nature  performacnceart  colombia  socal  dams  cities  adrianrivas  pilartompkinsrivas  sandradelaloza  charlessepulveda  history  naturalhistory  sanjuan  puertorico  huntingtonlibrary  davidderozas  marinamagalhães  beta-local  environment  environmentaljustice  feminism  displacement 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Can Bernie Sanders Alter the Course of the Democratic Party?
“At stake in the campaign is not just the fate of this year’s nomination, but the future of the Democratic Party’s coalition. The party is not the multiracial, working-class one Sanders and many of his backers want it to be. Sanders is famously not a member of it.”



“in order for a democratic socialist to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to the White House, Sanders believes he will have to do more than merely persuade a majority of the primary electorate to come out and vote for him. He’ll have to create a new electorate.”



“When Republicans represent the rich and Democrats represent the well-educated but not quite as rich, Piketty says, there’s no obvious party home for the working class, and no motivation for the government to do much of anything for that working class.

It’s a global trend, and it’s one that the Sanders campaign is trying to stop and reverse. Instead of crafting a platform to fit a coalition, the campaign is trying to create a coalition to fit his platform.”



“As Piketty observed, when both major parties are catering to the elites, the system can’t deliver material gains for the broad base of people, so the parties fight over the one thing a nation can control: its borders, and correspondingly the definition of citizenship. Without a party advocating for universal programs of uplift, for a collective effort to confront the seismic challenges facing the planet, the dialogue in the U.S. will dissolve, the way it has already begun to do in Europe, solely into battles over immigration and nationalism, battles that the right is well-positioned to win by exploiting fear, xenophobia, and anti-elite sentiment.”



“But, she knew, going state by state and company by company wouldn’t be enough, and believed something had to change at the top to enable grassroots groups to make progress at a scale that could match the extent of the crisis. She didn’t know anybody on the Sanders campaign, but she was in luck: Nobody who wanted a future career in Democratic politics was willing to work for Sanders, lest they wind up on the business end of the revenge-prone Clintons. Sandberg didn’t want a career in Washington, so that wasn’t an obstacle, and the campaign brought her, Zack Exley, and eventually Becky Bond on to run the digital organizing program.”



“On a car ride with staff earlier in 2019, Sanders opened up about one of his frustrations with Democratic Party leaders, bemoaning the way that they consider party activists and voters to be two utterly distinct entities, “who never the twain shall meet.” It’s OK for the activists to get riled up, but the voters never should. They have one job: Get into the booth, pull the lever, and go home.

“It’s a scarcity mindset that the party has,” Rast said. “It believes that voters don’t want to participate in democracy, which isn’t fundamentally true in this political moment. People want to participate — now! We have to give them the invitation to do it.”

That angling of the lens, that faith in people, is central to the organizing strategy. “We’re working collaboratively to actually build a movement for Bernie that’s legitimately integrated from Claire all the way down to FO’s” — field organizers — “in Iowa, which is pretty unprecedented for a presidential campaign,” Rast said.”



“Once a campaign sees its supporters through a broader lens than people to tap for small donations, more becomes possible. “It was important to us to not just engage voters as numbers in the voter file, but as people who exist in relationship to one another and also exist in communities that have specific concerns that are distinct,” she added.

The campaign began looking at the voter file in a different way. For this, they had the help of Emily Isaac, who ran one of the most unique field programs in the 2018 cycle, that of Sri Kulkarni in Texas. (Arguably, the four most innovative field campaigns that cycle were Kulkarni’s, Jess King’s in Pennsylvania, Ocasio-Cortez’s in New York, and Beto O’Rourke’s statewide race for Senate. Three of those four lost anyway, of course, but the Sanders campaign has absorbed organizers and tactics from all of them.)”



“Typically, a canvasser is given a list of names and addresses and told to knock on those doors, ask people how they’re voting, leave some literature, and perhaps attempt a little persuasion. The goal is to identify supporters so they can be turned out on Election Day. It’s grueling work: Most people aren’t home or aren’t interested in talking.

In the Kulkarni race, Isaac gave volunteers lists of people who lived in their local precinct and asked them to go through it and fill in information about their neighbors. It turned out that people knew an awful lot about their neighbors and their political preferences, and the campaign was able to amass intelligence at a scale impossible otherwise. The volunteers mapped roughly 14,000 of their neighbors with this method, and the campaign then leaned on friend-to-friend relationships to push those people out to vote. (According to the Sanders campaign, the Analyst Institute, which does private research for Democratic campaigns, has found that peers are twice as effective at persuading someone to vote than strangers on the phone or at the door.) In 2016, Democrats had lost the seat by 19 percentage points; Kulkarni fell just 5 short (and is running again, after the Republican incumbent Pete Olson, reading the writing on the Texas wall, retired).”



“There are currently more than 115,000 people who’ve created a Bern account, the campaign claims, and it has generated more than 300,000 IDs. The Elizabeth Warren campaign uses an app called Reach that was developed for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, which itself was a game-changer. Under the old programs, a volunteer would get a list of voters and then go out and try to find them at their doors or over the phone. But it’s much easier to make contact with voters in the wild: at farmer’s markets, on street corners, at concerts, or just out at the bar with friends. Reach allows a volunteer to easily enter information they collect on the street, but it falls short of what Bern is capable of.

What the Bern app enables is called relational, or friend-to-friend organizing, which has become a buzzword among progressive organizers, something many groups say they do, but don’t actually do with any rigor or scale.

“It’s very new overall and I don’t think that it’s ever been tried at this scale,” Sandberg said. “It doesn’t work to just say, ‘Bring five friends and then we’ll get bigger and bigger and bigger and win.’ It only works if you can systematize it and have ways of following up with every single volunteer and also finding out who they’re talking about and matching them back to the voter file. You can’t turn them out unless you have their precinct location.”

“The only other campaign that is doing relational organizing on a scale close to what we are doing actually is the Trump campaign,” she added.

“It’s one of the most innovative parts of our program, but it only works when you build something big around it,” Rast added. “If you have a couple of volunteers and they do relational [organizing], fine, but the reason why relational is really powerful on our campaign is because of everything else that we’re doing, and because it’s slotted into a bigger strategy that’s all driving towards the same point.”

Inside the Sanders campaign, relational organizing is linked up with the constituency program. In most campaigns, that means assigning staffers to reach out to various constituencies — labor unions, Chinese Americans, veterans, etc. — and meeting them where they are. For a standard campaign, the goal is simply to win the endorsement of an association linked to the constituency, perhaps extract some campaign cash, hold an event, and move on, hoping that the endorsement will win votes in the community. Traditionally, constituent groups are lobbied for their endorsement by the political directors or their staff, but the Sanders campaign has significantly underfunded that department, aware that Sanders won’t win many endorsements with one-to-one meetings. Instead, the task is seen as one of organizing: build support among a group’s base, and force its leadership into line.”
ryangrim  berniesanders  2020  2019  2016  2015  organizing  elections  petebuttigieg  elizabethsanders  hillaryclinton  billclinton  democracy  democrats  politics  socialism  nationalism  thomaspiketty  clairesandberg  beccarast  scarcity  relationships  campaigning 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Twitter Made Us Better - The New York Times
"These days, everyone thinks it’s a cesspit. But it’s changed whose voices we hear. That’s a good thing.

It’s impossible to avoid news about how harmful social media can be. The Cambridge Analytica scandal. The ubiquitous Russian bots. The lackadaisical response of tech industry leaders to privacy violations, election meddling and harassment.

All the optimism about social media as a vehicle for social change that followed the Arab Spring in 2011 has largely dissipated. Twitter — which once prompted users with the innocuous question “What are you doing?” — is now better known as a home for unforgiving criticism, stripped of the politeness that can soften real-life interactions. Many have become social media cynics.

Despite it all, the way we use Twitter made this decade better.

Rightful critiques of social media, and Twitter in particular, shouldn’t obscure the significance of the conversations that have happened there over the past 10 years. As we enter 2020, powerful individuals and societal problems can no longer avoid public scrutiny. That’s thanks in part to those who have demanded attention through the website. The online activism and commentary that take place on Twitter are often dismissed as expressions of “cancel culture” or “woke culture.” But a closer look reveals what’s really happening: Many people who lacked public platforms 10 years ago — the young and members of marginalized groups in particular — are speaking up, insisting on being heard.

For our forthcoming book, “#HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice,” my colleagues and I studied how groups including African-Americans, survivors of gendered violence and transgender women have used Twitter to build vibrant communities and to influence news and politics. We found that movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, while they had pre-Twitter origins, were pushed into mainstream consciousness by networks of ordinary people sharing firsthand stories, making demands and developing shared political narratives on the site. Without Twitter, these campaigns for race and gender justice would still exist, but they wouldn’t have nearly the same momentum.

It’s well known that African-Americans’ influence on Twitter — where they are overrepresented both compared with their numbers in the United States population and compared with other demographic groups who use the internet — shapes meme culture, fashion trends, slang and humor. But it also fuels cultural criticism and political demands.


ILLUSTRATION BY THE NEW YORK TIMES. PHOTOGRAPH BY MAX WHITTAKER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
Just look at the record: With #OscarsSoWhite, users drew attention to the 2015 and 2016 nominations that featured no people of color in any of the lead or supporting actor categories. That hasn’t happened since, and in 2019 the hashtag’s creator, April Reign, was invited by the academy to attend the award ceremony. When a CNN headline about a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi inexplicably focused on his criminal record, #CNNBeLike inspired parodies of the network’s framing and the prevalence of racist media stereotypes. That was undoubtedly noticed by journalists responsible for deciding how to present reporting to their audiences. #CosbyMeme, a hashtag that originated with the actor’s own account and asked fans to create memes about him, was hijacked to redirect focus to his assaults on women. #IfSlaveryWasAChoice captured the absurdity of Kanye West’s bizarre analysis of American history, using stinging sarcasm to make clear that the rapper was not to be taken seriously.

Without Twitter, far fewer Americans would have heard the names Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland — black people whose deaths have become synonymous with #BlackLivesMatter activism. When users deployed the hashtag #TamirRice — the name of the 12-year-old black boy who was holding a toy gun when he was killed by a police officer — alongside #EmmettTill, the platform was being used to link current events to the long history of anti-black violence once documented by accounts like Ida B. Wells’s 1895 book “The Red Record.” These digital campaigns pushed many major news outlets to report more thoroughly on police shootings. The ways in which local and federal agencies collect and track use-of-force data have changed.

Long before #MeToo, hashtags like #YesAllWomen (used to note the pervasiveness of misogynistic violence), #GirlsLikeUs (used to discuss issues facing transgender women) and #YouOkSis (used to draw attention to black women’s experiences with street harassment) were deployed by diverse groups of women to illustrate how, to borrow the old feminist refrain, the personal is political.

Twitter users have disrupted a media landscape where gatekeepers — in an industry that has always fallen short when it comes to race and gender diversity — were for too long solely responsible for setting the agenda of what we talked about as a country. While most Americans do not have Twitter accounts, journalists and politicians often do, and they have turned heavily in the past decade to the activists, scholars and people of color on Twitter to inform their coverage and policies. When they haven’t done so, these communities have responded resoundingly online. And America has listened.

Twitter has fundamentally altered the ways many communities interact with the media, as users feel empowered to challenge harmful framing. “I think the presence of Asian-Americans on Twitter has actually really showed journalists, editors and people in general in the newsroom how it is important to cover Asian-American issues,” one user told my colleagues and me in an interview for a report published by the Knight Foundation. “With Twitter, you can call out a publication if they mess up, or if they don’t cover certain topics. Now there’s accountability.”

Film producers, television writers and advertisers have changed the way they create content to respond to fans who express their views online. Showrunners from USA Network and the CW have acknowledged the influence of Twitter fans on the content of their programs. Hashtags like #NotBuyingIt have called brands from Huggies to BMW to account for sexist ads. After a boycott promoted on Twitter, the Hallmark Channel reversed a decision to exclude advertisements featuring a lesbian couple. Gone are the days when a piece of art could promote stereotypes, demean women or ignore the existence of people of color without a backlash. Professional critics might identify these problems. Twitter users definitely will. They’ll demand better. And many times, they receive it.

It’s not surprising when powerful people resent Twitter, calling the critiques that come from it too negative, too intolerant, too sensitive. Twitter didn’t invent knee-jerk reactions, conflict or polarization, but it did expand the set of voices all of us have to hear.

Like all technological tools, Twitter can be exploited for evil and harnessed for good. Just as the printing press was used to publish content that argued fervently for slavery, it was also used by abolitionists to make the case for manumission. Just as radio and television were used to stir up the fervor of McCarthyism, they were also used to undermine it.

Twitter has fallen short in many ways. But this decade, it helped ordinary people change our world."
sarahjackson  activism  twitter  web  online  2010s  2019  hashtags  blacklivesmatter  metoo  consciousness  voice  politics  policy  organizing  oscarssowhite  communities  community  amplification  attention  socialmedia  race  gender  transgender 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Revolutionary Left Radio: Nina Simone: The Revolutionary High Priestess of Soul
"On this episode of Rev Left Radio, Zoe Samudzi returns to the show to reflect on the life, art, politics, and legacy of the one and only Nina Simone.

Check out Zoe and her work here: http://www.zoesamudzi.com/

Follow Zoe on Twitter @ztsamudzi

Listen to Zoe's other appearances on Rev Left here:

- https://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/critical-race-theory-and-black-liberation-w-zo-samudzi

- https://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/black-feminism-and-queer-theory-w-zoe-samudzi "
zoésamudzi  ninasimone  music  history  2019  politics  aesthetics  art  blackness  srg 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | We Learned to Write the Way We Talk - The New York Times
"It’s an internet tradition, when humor or sarcasm goes astray online, to apologize by saying something like, “You know, it’s just impossible to convey tone in writing.”

But what I’ve noticed as the 2010s come to an end is that this apology isn’t needed as much as it once was — not because people have strangely become fans of misconstrued irony, but because the circumstances aren’t arising as much. Whether through big flourishes like “That’s very ~on brand~” and “y.i.k.e.s.” or subtler ones like “that’s a Bold choice” and “Wowwwww,” we can now convey a full range of emotions in writing.

The reason we once found speech easier for imparting emotions isn’t an inherent property of sound waves and voice boxes. Rather, it’s that we’re more used to employing a broad range of styles in face-to-face communication. An expansive palette of possibilities lets us convey nuanced meta-messages like solidarity (by converging toward someone else’s linguistic style at a given moment) and double meaning (by noticing when what someone is saying doesn’t match with how they say it).

Sometimes the “how” is purely derived from context (saying “What a beautiful day!” when facing a windowful of sleet), but many times paralinguistic cues like intonation or facial expression also help us get there (saying “Wonderful” in a flat, clipped tone). This tension between the “what” and the “how” forms the “double” part of “double meaning,” and from it a listener can infer gloriously complex sentiments like humor or irony or reluctance or passive aggression.

Writing, by contrast, is something we learn primarily from an educational authority, rather than a layered social context. This authority teaches us a single way of spelling and punctuating and choosing words, a formal style that aims to remove the author as much as possible from the text. Just as news anchors are trained to report the news, not be the news, young essay writers are told not to begin their book reports with “I really liked (or hated) this book.”

A formal, disembodied style does have a place in the pantheon of linguistic genres. But the problem with this tradition is that it’s a jealous god — rather than say, “Here is a style that’s useful sometimes,” it says, “Here is the only correct way to write, and any variation from it is Bad and Wrong.”

But subjectivity is sometimes exactly what we want. I don’t need National Geographic to start replacing its photojournalism with selfies, but when my friends go on vacation, I want to see the trip filtered through their eyes — their semi-ironic selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower or the tiny cafe they found on a rainy afternoon means more to me than a generic landmark photo, however beautiful. What’s more, if there’s only one style, there’s no opportunity for meaning-doubling or style-shifting, the richest social parts of a conversation.

As writing has been expanding online into the informal conversational domains where speech used to be primary, the generations who spent their formative years online started expanding writing’s muted emotional range. Sure, quotation marks can indicate reported speech, and capitals can indicate proper nouns, but we gain a sense of the writer’s personality when they’re also available for use as “scare quotes” and Ironic Capitals.

Similarly, in contexts like texting or chat, where the default way of breaking up utterances is with a new line or a new message, the period takes on connotations of seriousness and formality, a slight deepening of the voice at the end of a sentence. Thus, a period can reinforce a negative message (“that’s rough.”) but undermine a positive one (“that’s fine.”). The latter style reads to many younger people as passive-aggressive, a sign that the writer could have used a sincere exclamation mark (“that’s fine!”) but decided not to.

Yes, it’s a lot of meaning to infer from a dot, but it’s socially useful to be able to convey a nuanced level of reluctance, one that’s not strong enough to be worth registering as a full complaint but is nonetheless not quite full-throated enthusiasm.

In other words, we’ve been learning to write in ways that communicate our tone of voice, not just our mastery of rules. We’ve been learning to see writing not as a way of asserting our intellectual superiority, but as a way of listening to one another better. We’ve been learning to write not for power, but for love.

The closest to love that an external list of rules can offer is a feeling of besieged camaraderie, a unity against a perceived common enemy. But it’s a miserly form of affection to care for some people only by despising others. It’s a perilous form of community, where your membership is always conditional, where you know that your supposed friends in matching “I’m silently correcting your grammar” T-shirts are liable to turn on you without constant vigilance.

If rules vigilantism is all that a love of language can offer, we might as well also consider “Mean Girls” a guide to healthy relationships.

But language snobbery is not inevitable. It’s not that people who cling to lists of language rules don’t want love as well. It’s that they’ve been sold a false bill of goods for how to get it. In high school English classes and writing manuals, we’ve been told that being “clear” and “correct” in language will help people understand us.

But understanding doesn’t come from insisting on a list of rules, shouting the same thing only louder like a hapless monolingual tourist in a foreign country. Understanding comes from meeting other people where they are, like being willing to use gestures and a handful of semi-remembered words and yes, even to look like a fool, to bridge a language barrier with laughter and humility.

We’ve been taught the lie that homogeneity leads to understanding, when in truth, understanding comes from better appreciating variety. If I write a sentence like “My brand is strong” using the default settings on my phone’s keyboard, I look like a corporate sellout, but if I can write it with subversive capitalization, like “my Brand is Strong,” I can convey something quite different, a signal that I’m not taking myself too seriously, that I have an ordinary internet user’s ironic ambivalence toward the idea of a personal brand.

Having emotionally real conversations takes vulnerability. In a world where so many of us have been taught to write according to a list of rules, disregarding them is a way of extending trust. As an internet linguist, I often hear from younger people that they want to help the older people in their lives understand a fuller, more flexible range of expression, rather than assume that complex nuances of humor or ambivalence are impossible to write.

Younger people may not enjoy older people muscling in on and misusing their particular trendy words (see the recent driving into the ground of “ok boomer”), but they do desperately want to be able to have emotionally real conversations in text with the people who matter to them.

When we write in ways that a red pen wouldn’t approve of, we give our interlocutors the chance to show that they care more about us as a living human presence than they do about some long-dead or absent authority, by not derailing the conversation with moralizing “corrections” — or better yet, by replying with the same vulnerability. In return, being more open and flexible with language rewards us with the capacity to convey the humor and irony and double meaning in writing that we’ve been craving for so long."
language  howwewrite  internet  web  texting  communication  2019  gretchenmcculloch  form  punctuation  grammar  english  expression  emotion  emotions  flexibility  adaptability 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Anand Giridharadas on Twitter: "My theory of beating Trump. Run a true progressive. And sell their policies in a way too few progressives do — in the languages of patriotism and personal transformation. Show people your way is the American way. And your
"The languages of justice and corruption are powerful. They’re the ones I speak in much of the time.

But I think we sometimes forget that America will be more fun, more thrilling, more joyous, full of better marriages and better holidays and better youths if these ideas succeed.

Progressive candidates can do better at helping people picture their lives on the other side of the mountain of change.

What will your marriage be like when you’re not stressed by debt and healthcare?

What books will you read to your kids when you’re not working three jobs?

Personal transformation is a powerful American vernacular. Except it’s about what you can do alone, as a self.

What I’m suggesting is that progressives co-opt this language but for grand public policy.

Sell health and education and tax policy as the real enablers of a new you.

And patriotism.

Don’t let the incrementalists and the defenders of ruthless corporations own the flag.

Taking care of each other is the American thing. Learning is the American thing. Paying your fair share is the American thing.

Root this fight in the language of country.

I don’t hear enough of these things.

I was born in Ohio. I went to college in Michigan. I now live in New York.

I believe these policies would benefit people in all these places. But some languages work better than others in the heartland.

Languages that are true to the facts.

At the end of the day, the country progressives want to build will be a more fun country to live in. That truth gets lost in the very worthy talk of oligarchy, corruption, and billionaires. I’m guilty of this, too.

We have to help people visualize the new America — and new them.

So that’s one guy’s take on how to defeat Trump while defeating what enabled Trump, while being mindful that doing so requires speaking to people who are non-native speakers of the language of social justice.

Check out the rest of my chat with @MMFlint: https://anchor.fm/rumble-with-michael-moore "
justice  corruption  anandgiridharadas  politics  progressive  progressivism  elections  2020  2019  patriotism  society  solidarity  personaltransformation  healthcare  inequality  medicine  change  debt  education  highered  highereducation  taxes  policy  centrism  incrementalism  corporatism  care  caring  us  economics  relationships  language  messaging  oligarchy  socialjustice  transformation  elizabethwarren  berniesanders  michaelmoore 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Can the Art World Kick Its Addiction to Flying? | Frieze
“In the era of climate crisis, we all need to rethink how and why we travel”

[via "This rings so true for the world of consulting / high-prestige freelancing as well (which is one of the reasons I was eager to escape it this year!)"
https://twitter.com/xuhulk/status/1211340910879027201 ]
kylechayka  2019  climatechange  climate  flying  flights  art  artworld  crisis  travel  freelancing  slow  small  place  local  dougaldhine  hygge  gretathunberg  flygskam  hansulrichobrist  nicolasbourriaud  anthropocene  flyingshame  carbonfootprint  carbonemissions  emissions  environment  sustainability  flightshame 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ep. 9: Please Let Me Rob You, I'm Woke (feat. Anand Giridharadas) from RUMBLE with MICHAEL MOORE on RadioPublic
[also available here:

https://anchor.fm/rumble-with-michael-moore/episodes/Ep–9-Please-Let-Me-Rob-You–Im-Woke-feat–Anand-Giridharadas-e9s5iu/a-a182c6l
https://open.spotify.com/episode/3j3jewq1yxOQ5eQpE5GdtJ
https://overcast.fm/+V18Uxlflk ]

“While the majority of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and one emergency away from financial peril, a new study shows that the 500 richest people in the world gained a combined $1.2 trillion in wealth in 2019. In the U.S., the richest 0.1% now control a bigger share of the pie than at any time since the beginning of the Great Depression.

But what happens when the very people hoarding this wealth at the expense of democracy, the environment and an equitable society, re-brand themselves as the people who will fix society’s problems? What happens when the arsonists pose as the firefighters?

Anand Giridharadas has been studying these questions and he joins Michael Moore to name names and discuss what to do about it.

Rumble Reads:

Anand’s book, “Winners Take All” is here:

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/539747/winners-take-all-by-anand-giridharadas/9780451493248

Follow Anand here:

https://twitter.com/AnandWrites

The Jamie Dimon “60 Minutes” episode that Michael and Anand ridicule is here:

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/jamie-dimon-jp-morgan-chase-ceo-the-60-minutes-interview-2019-11-10/

The new survey about the wealthiest people in the world is here :

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-27/world-s-richest-gain-1-2-trillion-as-kylie-baby-sharks-prosper
anandgiridharadas  michaelmoore  inequality  winnerstakeall  winwin  2019  us  wealth  power  economics  society  war  polarization  internet  work  labor  democracy  capitalism  abuse  proximity  barackobama  lloydblankfein  democrats  markzuckerberg  jeffbezos  billgates  politics  policy  wapo  washingtonpost  class  republicans  corporations  taxes  profits  mikepence  elections  corruption  finance  financialization  profiteering  banks  banking  investment  stockmarket  michaelbloomberg  liberals  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  oligarchy  plutocracy  kleptocracy  healthcare  cities  problemsolving  culture  elitism  climatechange  reputationlaundering  reputation  business  neoliberalism  wokemanickypercapitalism  latecapitalism  poverty  walmart  healthinsurance  pharmaceuticals  wendellpotter  change  profiteers  berniesanders  2020  fun  debt  education  highered  highereducation 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
You're not helping, Obama – just reinforcing myths about men v women | Arwa Mahdawi | Opinion | The Guardian
“Obama’s remark that women are ‘indisputably’ better than men points to the trope that women and men are innately different

Women are “indisputably” better than men, according to renowned male feminist Barack Obama.

“I’m absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything,” the former president recently opined at a private leadership event in Singapore.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Obama, but that’s complete nonsense. If every nation on earth was run by a woman like Jacinda Ardern it might be true. If the world were run by the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi, however, it would be quite another story. Women, you’ll be amazed to know, are not a monolithic group.

Obama’s sweeping statements about women aren’t just facile, they’re supremely unhelpful. They reinforce the myth that women and men are innately different; that women are biologically programmed to be more cooperative and compassionate than men. We’re not. We’re just socially conditioned to be people-pleasers. And, from day one, we’re held to higher standards than men; “boys will be boys” but girls are expected to be angels.

Having more female leaders is also completely meaningless if those women simply “lean in” to exploitative systems of power. It’s not old white men that are the problem, it’s patriarchal capitalism. It’s an economic system in which power and resources are hoarded by the few. It’s the conflation of “leadership” with stereotypically “male” traits like aggression. And it’s the idea that one sex is “indisputably” better than another.“
arwamahdawi  barackobama  feminism  patriarchy  politics  capitalism  gender  2019  sherylsandberg  power  leadership  exploitation 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
These Students Are Partnering With Corvids to Replant a Forest After Fire | Audubon
"Island Scrub-Jays are acorn-planting machines. Might flying foresters be just what today's scorched Western landscapes need?"
corvids  scrubjays  2019  multispecies  morethanhuman  sarahgilman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  animals  birds  nature  wildlife 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism
"The problem is that the causal channels identified by Desmond don’t really explain the low road on which American capitalism undoubtedly runs. What do the monetary flows between the antebellum North and South, or the technologies developed on slave plantations, have to do with America’s low levels of social protection today? In the end Desmond’s argument comes down to the diffusion and persistence of what he calls (quoting Joshua Rothman) a “culture of speculation unique in its abandon.”

Leaving aside the question of how unique that culture actually was (the 1929 and 2007 financial crises that Desmond attributes to it were after all global crises), it remains a mystery how this culture persisted so long after the abolition of the institution which supposedly gave rise to it. Desmond’s language reflects the murky, even ghostly, character of that persistence: he points to “eerie” analogies between past and present; slavery is described in religious terms as a “national sin” that is “visited upon” later generations; and of course we get that most modern, and most American, of all metaphors for mysterious lineage: “slavery is necessarily imprinted on the DNA of American capitalism.”

But in truth there need be no mystery. For there are straightforward ways that slavery clearly influenced the development of American capitalism — ways that don’t require us to pad the numbers or believe in ghosts. The first and most obvious one is the legacy of anti-black racism that is powerfully described in other contributors to the 1619 Project. That legacy undoubtedly divided the American labor movement, weakened progressive political alliances, and undermined the provision of public goods (see for instance the excellent pieces by Kevin Kruse and Jeneen Interlandi in the same issue of the New York Times Magazine).

There is also a lesser-known but equally clear and durable influence of slavery evidenced in the work of legal and institutional historians that Desmond neglects, such as David Waldstreicher and Robin Einhorn. These historians point out that a major effect of slavery on US economic development came through its foundational influence on America’s legal and political institutions.

One of the central problems faced by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was how to create a common legal and political framework that would unite the slave states of the South with Northern states that were then in the process of abolishing slavery. The slave states were concerned that a strong federal government dominated by Northerners might tax their slaves or even abolish slavery.

The solution the delegates found was two-fold. On the one hand they ensured that the South was disproportionately represented at the federal level through the three-fifths clause. On the other hand, they reserved the bulk of fiscal and economic policymaking to the states themselves. Thus the constitution effectively restricted federal taxing and regulatory power to international and interstate commerce.

But even here slavery shaped the way that power would be used. Slave states were concerned about federal power to tax slave imports and slave-produced exports, but they also wanted the federal government to enforce their property claims when it came to fugitive slaves who might flee to the free states. The result was a restriction on the federal government’s taxing power (banning export taxes and limiting taxes on slave imports) and a strengthening of its power (vis a vis the states) to enforce property claims in the “fugitive slave clause.”

This division of federal and state power over slave property is not just manifest in now-dormant articles of the constitution dealing with slavery. It imbues all parts of the constitution and arguably lent to the American state system its distinctive form, which combines strong property protections with weak regulatory and fiscal powers (the introduction of a federal income tax in 1913 required a constitutional amendment).

Apologists for this system call it “competitive federalism.” The fugitive slave act and the commerce clause restricted the domestic power of the federal government — the most powerful entity in the state system — to protecting large merchants and enforcing property claims across state lines, i.e., ensuring the mobility of capital. Its powers to tax, spend, and interfere with the interests of the wealthy (e.g., through regulating banks or providing debt relief) were explicitly curtailed. Even the legal scholar Richard Epstein, a libertarian champion of competitive federalism, acknowledges that “it’s quite clear that the cause of limited government was advanced by the institution of slavery.”

In principle the states were left to regulate and tax as they liked, but their practical ability to do so was constrained by federally mandated capital mobility. This created a fiscal and regulatory race to the bottom, as the wealthy could force relatively weak state legislatures to compete for their investments — just as city and state governments prostrate themselves before Amazon and Boeing today. The infamous Dred Scott case was itself a matter of the federal judiciary protecting capital mobility (in that case the right of slave-owners to move through the territories with their slaves) and Robin Einhorn points out that the same principle was at work in later judicial interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment that allowed federal courts to strike down state-level labor regulations.

Einhorn’s point is not that the framers were all proslavery (they were not) nor that they intended to produce a capitalist paradise of unfettered accumulation. Her point is that in making certain concessions to the slave-owners the framers unintentionally generated those conditions. Slave-owners were particularly afraid of allowing democratic control over property because they were literally afraid of their property. They were haunted by the threat of slave insurrections, as well as foreign armies turning their slaves into enemy soldiers through offers of freedom (as the British had recently done). Einhorn concludes that “if property rights have enjoyed unusual sanctity in the United States, it may be because this nation was founded in a political situation in which the owners of one very significant form of property thought their holdings were insecure.”

The resulting balance of strong property protections and weak regulatory and taxing power may or may not have been conducive to economic growth (that’s for economic historians to figure out). But there is no doubt that it helped shift American capitalism onto the low road. In addition to the profound effect of slavery on America’s enduring racial inequality, slavery’s legacy for American capitalism may thus be found more in the structural constraints on US politics than in its direct contributions to the nineteenth-century American economy."
capitalism  history  slavery  us  2019  1619project  johnclegg  nytimes  matthewdesmond  civilwar  constitution  law  economics  race  racism  labor  work  unions  organizing  division  kevinkruse  jeneeninterlandi  davidwaldstricher  robineinhorn  politics  policy  commerce  taxes  taxation  fugitiveslaveact  capitalmobility  fourteenthamendment  abolition  propertyrights  property 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Extolling the Virtues of the Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle
"In “Civilized to Death,” Christopher Ryan argues that our nomadic ancestors were better off than we are today."
nomads  nomadism  huntergatherers  2019  christopherryan 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
How to run a small social network site for your friends
“Table of Contents

How to run a small social network site for your friends
> Who this guide is for
> Social solutions to social problems

What makes a small social network site different from a big one?
> You control the computer that runs the site
> You can modify the software
> You get to make the social rules and policies
> Wait, who is “you”?

Why run a small social network site?
> Software can be complicated where necessary
> You can have hyper-specific norms
> Why to NOT run a small social network site

What you can do today
> Keep it small
> You are the party host
> Provide a custom introduction to your network for every user
> Group activities
> Keep it interconnected
> Funding
> The bus problem
> Code of Conduct
>> Enforcement
> Technical recommendations
>> Examples of services you can provide

What we need to do in the future
> Places where we need better tech
>> Fluidity of identity and the ability to migrate
>> Let people keep things in the community
>> Server forking should be easy
>> Lean software that doesn’t have to scale
> More on scale
> Beyond local and public: the neighborhood

Conclusion
> Hard questions
> So what do you, the reader, do next?
>> If you are comfortable with servers and hosting
>> If you are not comfortable with that but would like to learn
>> If learning the tech stuff is realistically not going to happen
> Running a small social network site is completely possible to do on the side

Acknowledgments

About the author

License

Older Versions”
dariuskazemi  socialmedia  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  2019  howto  technology  webdev  mastodon  software  social  community  communities  via:jenlowe 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Safiya Umoja Noble PhD on Twitter: "All the way correct and worth the time to read. The invention of “ethical AI”: how big tech manipulates academia to avoid regulation https://t.co/QlVfmwZStd by Rodrigo Ochigame" / Twitter
“All the way correct and worth the time to read. The invention of “ethical AI”: how big tech manipulates academia to avoid regulation https://theintercept.com/2019/12/20/mit-ethical-ai-artificial-intelligence/ by Rodrigo Ochigame
How Big Tech Manipulates Academia to Avoid Regulation: A Silicon Valley lobby enrolled elite academia to avoid legal restrictions on artificial intelligence.

I’m out of Twitter time this AM but I’ll quickly say that using framworks of JUSTICE instead of ethics, naming OPPRESSION versus lauding diversity or fairness, are all important word choices and world views about how to define and solve problems.

Let me add, which may not be popular: these hedge funds and BigTech companies owe reparations. Their money needs to flow in the direction of justice, not for whitewashing ethics. We need intermediaries to take the money made off destroying lives and democracies to help us repair.

For me, the prob is not about allegedly having my work erased by this courageous grad student, Bc it isn’t. We need a critical mass demanding protections that stop racist/sexist AI, surveillance capitalism, and its destruction. Rodrigo is pointing to how that gets shut down.

I appreciate @gleemie‘s take on this bc she’s right—we can have a generous reading of the article. I liked the focus on structural analysis from @ubiquity75 too. I recognize there a neoliberal feminist reading of this article is also underway. And now I have to go grade.”
safiyanoble  rodrigoochigame  2019  ai  artificialintelligence  neoliberalism  feminism  ethicalai  ethics  reparations  bigtech  technology  siliconvalley  academia  oppression  justice  diversity  fairness  whitewashing  google  facebook  apple  amazon  microsoft  democracy  sexism  racism  criticalmass  safiyaumojanoble 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter
“I grew up in Wisconsin, and have lived in Iowa, Minnesota, and New York. Except for a two-year stint in the Bay Area, I’ve experienced winter — real winter, with lots of snow, below-freezing temperatures, and little daylight — every year of my life and never had a problem with it. So I was surprised when my last two Vermont winters put me on my ass. In winter 2017-18, I was depressed, anxious, wasn’t getting out of bed in the morning, spent endless time on my phone doing nothing, and had trouble focusing on my work. And I didn’t realize what it was until the first nice spring day came, 70 and sunny, and it hit me: “holy shit, I’ve been depressed because of winter” and felt wonderful for the next 5 months, like a completely different person. Then last year I was so anxious that it would happen again that all that stuff was worse and started basically a week into fall.

Nothing helped: I tried getting outside more, spent more time with friends, got out to meet new people, travelled to warm places, took photos of VT’s beautiful winter landscapes, spent time in cities, cut back on alcohol, and prioritized sleep. Last year I skied more than ever before and enjoyed it more than I’d ever had. Didn’t matter. This stuff worked during the spring and summer but my winter malaise was seemingly impenetrable. The plan for this fall was to try a SAD lamp, therapy, maybe drugs, and lots more warm travel. But then something interesting happened.

Sometime this fall — using a combination of Stoicism, stubbornness, and a sort of magical thinking that Jason-in-his-30s would have dismissed as woo-woo bullshit — I decided that because I live in Vermont, there is nothing I can do about it being winter, so it was unhelpful for me to be upset about it. I stopped complaining about it getting cold and dark, I stopped dreading the arrival of snow. I told myself that I just wasn’t going to feel like I felt in the summer and that’s ok — winter is a time for different feelings. As Matt Thomas wrote, I stopped fighting the winter vibe and tried to go with it”
winter  happiness  kottke  psychology  weather  jasonkottke  2019  mindset  acceptance  via:lukeneff 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
David Klion🔥 on Twitter: “@DanLehner1 Less that centrism is cool and more that it’s aloof and unconcerned with human affairs, and thus willing to passively align itself with various conflicting ideological projects out of apathy” / Twitter
“Less that centrism is cool and more that it’s aloof and unconcerned with human affairs, and thus willing to passively align itself with various conflicting ideological projects out of apathy”
politics  davidkion  centrism  apathy  distance  2019  policy  via:lukeneff 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
How Perumal Murugan Was Resurrected Through Writing
“The old couple who own Poonachi, in “The Story of a Goat,” are poor villagers living in a thatched shed. When Poonachi arrives in their lives, given as a gift by a stranger, night is falling, and the old woman needs an earthen lamp to look at the kid. The lamp doesn’t have a wick, so she uses a strip from her husband’s discarded loincloth. This is the sort of detail that gives Murugan’s work its heft. His fiction scrupulously documents South India’s trees, its seasons, the behavior not only of people but even of animals. Take the following description, in the book, about a young male goat named Kaduvayan, before he is castrated:
He would visit every herd in the pasture and sniff the vaginas of the mother goats as well as the female kids. Then, with his upper lip pushed back to bare his teeth and head held high, he would relish the smell. He would stick out his penis and piss noisily. Entranced by his touch, a couple of female kids would contract their bodies and start peeing. Kaduvayan would put his snout in the stream of piss and drink a little. A few mother goats would butt him and knock him down. The female kids would become frightened and run away, their tails firmly in place.

This intimacy with the pastoral, channelled in a frank, brutal tone, is something I’ve envied Murugan. But I was curious about him even before I read his books. In 2015, while checking the news online, I came across one of Murugan’s Facebook posts. It wasn’t an ordinary status update about an upcoming reading or a favorable review, the sort of self-promotional thing that writers routinely do. Instead, his post read “Perumal Murugan the writer is dead. As he is not god, he is not going to resurrect himself. He also has no faith in rebirth. An ordinary teacher, he will live as P. Murugan. Leave him alone.”

That note pierced me. A fireman leaving his job or a politician quitting politics or even a young athlete retiring would most likely not describe leaving their professions as a death. And this was no ordinary death. In a simple but subtle way, Murugan was accusing his society of wanting to murder him. Authors complain constantly—writer’s block, a feud with a rival, lack of critical attention—but none of these grievances require literary suicide. How had the situation turned so dire for Murugan?

Slowly, I gleaned the nature of his plight. Five years after his novel “Maadhorubaagan” (later published in English as “One Part Woman”) first appeared, in 2010, Murugan was threatened by conservatives from his own caste in the small town in South India where he lived. The novel is a portrait of a rural childless couple, Kali and Ponna, who are loving to each other but under tremendous social pressure to conceive a child. When the annual chariot festival draws near—a celebration of the half-male, half-female god Maadhorubaagan—Ponna is obliged to participate. This is especially true on the festival’s eighteenth night, when all men are considered gods and when childless women are permitted to have sex with young strangers. For Ponna, the night marks perhaps her last chance to become pregnant.

This depiction of what Murugan claimed was a traditional ritual outraged a class of his readers. In 2015, he was forced to sign an unconditional apology and to withdraw unsold copies of his book. The previous year, India had elected to power the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.), led by the controversial ideologue Narendra Modi. Modi himself had been a lifelong pracharak, or propagandist, for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R.S.S.), a militant ultranationalist organization whose founders had a fondness for Hitler. Nathuram Godse, the man who murdered Mahatma Gandhi, was a former member of the R.S.S. A mob that assembled in the town where “One Part Woman” is set to burn copies of the book was egged on by the B.J.P. and the R.S.S.

The attack on Murugan was perhaps the first major assault on freedom of expression after Modi’s ascent to power. For a while, Murugan was forced into silence. What rescued him was the judgment delivered by the Madras High Court, in Chennai, in the summer of 2016. The judge had a piece of advice for those who disliked Murugan and wanted his book censored: “All writings, unpalatable for one section of the society, cannot be labeled as obscene, vulgar, depraving, prurient and immoral. . . . If you do not like a book, throw it away.” Particularly meaningful was the judge’s closing injunction: “Let the author be resurrected to what he is best at. Write.” For Murugan, the statement was both “a command and a benediction.”

During the first few months of his exile, Murugan hadn’t been able to write anything. Then he began to write brief poems. When he finally published them, in 2016—the English translation was titled “Songs of a Coward: Poems of Exile”—he gave a speech in Delhi to mark the occasion. “I chronicled the moment when I felt like a rat, dazzled by the light, burrowing itself into his hole,” he said. “A censor is seated inside me now. He is testing every word that is born within me.” Once we know this history, we are able to understand Murugan’s preface to the Tamil edition of “Poonachi”: “I am fearful of writing about humans; even more fearful of writing about gods. . . . All right then, let me write about animals. There are only five species of animals with which I am deeply familiar. Of them, dogs and cats are meant for poetry. It is forbidden to write about cows or pigs. That leaves only goats and sheep. Goats are problem-free, harmless and, what’s more, energetic. A story needs narrative pace. Therefore, I’ve chosen to write about goats.”

When I started reading the book that first got Murugan into trouble, “One Part Woman,” I immediately recognized the novel as belonging to a genre that we might call “rooted literature.” What Murugan was producing was locally grown, not a canned object sold on a supermarket bookshelf. It is rare to come across a writer who enjoys such intimacy with not just the land but also the customs that govern the lives of the people who live on it. Culture, as a particular mix of religion, superstition, and the calculations of power, and with caste as a crucial determinant, is central to the story that Murugan is telling. The book is so rooted in the soil of tradition that its rebellion against it is all the more unexpected and moving.

It struck me, when I finished the novel, that long before the protests that exiled him Murugan was already a dead writer. I have in my notebooks a remark by Christopher Hitchens: “One should try to write as if posthumously.” What Hitchens meant was that to be dead is to be relieved of all concerns about how your writing is viewed. “You’re free,” he wrote. Murugan’s willingness to look into the dark well of prejudice and see his society’s face reflected there suggested that he was writing posthumously. This lack of fear, or radical honesty, gave his writing its power.

During our conversation in Jaipur, Murugan told me that his father was an illiterate farmer who also ran a soda shop. Murugan was the first in his family to receive an education. At one point, I asked him about the happiest day of his life. He responded immediately: January 5, 1988. That was the day when, in college, in Coimbatore, he gave his teacher one of his short stories. The teacher deemed it worthy and asked Murugan to send it to a Tamil literary magazine. After that, Murugan rarely stopped writing. In the early nineties, while in his twenties, he published stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and read Shakespeare and several Russian novels in Tamil translation. He also read Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” which seemed fitting. “The Story of a Goat,” despite its close attention to land and livestock, is above all a political allegory. The novel is an attempt to chart the ways in which what is ordinary or obscure survives in a society that’s at the mercy of nature and the market. It is a slim book, but Murugan has given it an epic form. Though we are technically reading the story of a goat, we could just as well be reading about a female laborer caught in a reproductive economy in which her experience of love is real and yet fleeting, her voice never silent and yet unheard.

Later, I asked Murugan to describe another day—the day that protests forced him to flee his town. “I’m very sorry. I can’t speak about that situation. I think this is not a good time. . . . After five years I will speak about that,” he said. A few months later, in the summer, India reëlected Narendra Modi. Among the other elected officials was a man I had known in my high school, who, as a minister, had garlanded a group of men accused of lynching a Muslim man. Another winner was a B.J.P. candidate from Bhopal who was accused in a terrorism case (she has denied all charges) and who called Gandhi’s assassin a deshbhakt, or patriot. In July, forty-nine writers, filmmakers, and artists wrote a public letter to Modi protesting mob lynchings; in October, they were threatened with a court case. Today, what I feel, much more than envy, is a real fear for Perumal Murugan.”
perumalmurugan  amitavakumar  writing  india  literature  2019  tamil  multispecies  fables  slow  small  goats  animals  rural  narendramodi 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
An American Icons look at Patricia Highsmith’s “Ripley” novels.
"In a series of novels beginning with “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” Patricia Highsmith explored the dark side of the American dream: ambition untempered by morality, the credo of self-invention taken to murderous extremes.

Novelists Gillian Flynn, Hanya Yanagihara and Alexander Chee examine Highsmith's famous style and the enduring influence of her iconic character, Tom Ripley, who shares roots with other great American masters and monsters of reinvention, from Superman to Gatsby to Walter White.

Scholar Terry Castle and Highsmith biographer Joan Schenkar discuss his brilliant and tormented creator, and what led her to explore those shadowy corners of human psychology we'd like to keep hidden, even from ourselves."
parulseghal  literature  2019  patriciahighsmith  gillianflynn  hanyayanagihara  alexanderchee  terrycastle  joanschenkar 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
A Worldwide #MeToo Protest that Began in Chile | The New Yorker Radio Hour | WNYC Studios
"Three weeks ago, members of a Chilean feminist collective called Las Tesis put on blindfolds and party dresses and took to the streets. The festive atmosphere put their purpose in stark relief: the song they sang was “Un Violador En Tu Camino” (“A Rapist in Your Path”). It’s a sharp indictment of the Chilean police, against whom a hundred charges of sexual violence have been lodged since the beginning of the anti-government protests in October. The lyrics also target the patriarchy in general. The song might have remained a local phenomenon, but someone put it on Twitter, and, in the span of a few days, it became the anthem of women protesting sexism and violence throughout Latin America. A few days later, the protest was replicated in Paris and Berlin, and, shortly thereafter, in Istanbul, where it was shut down by police. The New Yorker’s Camila Osorio was recently in Chile and recounts the exciting story of the creation of a global movement."
metoo  2019  chile  protest  unvioladorentucamino  genderviolence  violence  lastesis  camilaosorio  paris  bogotá  colombia  istanbul  turkey  nyc  gender  berlin  latinamerica  police  valpariaíso  women  carabineros  santiago  twitter  viralperformance  performance  mexico  mexicodf  us  losangeles  italy  italia  bolivia  beirut  lebanon  translation  solidarity 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
One of India’s Most Original and Controversial Novelists Returns With a Powerful Parable - The New York Times
“In her Nobel lecture, delivered in Stockholm earlier this month, the Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk surveyed the world of letters with dismay. What happened to its power and promise? she asked. What happened to its mandate to yank us out of our lives and into confrontation with the universal, to bind us to history and one another? Instead, we are deafened by a cacophony of memoirs and first-person narratives — “a choir made up of soloists.” Tokarczuk lamented the decline of the fable as a form, and the loss of literature as a site for radical tenderness that might militate against self-obsession and refresh our sensitivity to the world.

I confess I had no idea things were quite so bad. But don’t despair, Olga Tokarczuk. I have an antidote at hand.

“The Story of a Goat” is the newly translated novel by Perumal Murugan, his first work since he famously committed literary suicide in 2015. Right-wing Hindu groups had attacked him for his book “One Part Woman,” which depicted an ancient temple ritual that permitted childless women to sleep with strangers in the hope of getting pregnant. Murugan was driven from his village and coerced into an apology. He renounced writing. “Perumal Murugan the writer is dead,” he posted on Facebook. “Leave him alone.”

A court ruling defended his right to free expression, and Murugan returned to work, albeit badly shaken. He was reluctant to write about humans, he said (“a censor is seated inside me now”), never mind his favorite incendiary themes: caste politics and the blunt, brutal power of the mob.

Perumal Murugan the writer lives, fearless as ever. He has returned with another parable about village life, written with breathtaking and deceptive simplicity, translated from the Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman. The novel examines the oppressions of caste and colorism, government surveillance, the abuse of women — all cunningly folded into the biography of an unhappy little goat.

There might be no more benighted animal in all of literature than Poonachi, the seventh and smallest of her litter. She slides out of her mother’s body, soot-black and frail as a flower.

An old farmer and his wife assume her care. To their surprise, their quiet home is filled with new warmth and purpose. “It had been a long time since there was such pleasant chit-chat between the couple. Because of the kid’s sudden entry into their lives, they ended up talking about the old days.” They fatten her up and introduce her to their herd. She grows into an observant creature, slow to anger and bashful about her belly, still bloated from early hunger, and her matted hair. She clings to the old couple like a child.

However venerable, the tradition of encoding critiques of power in animal stories has always left me feeling leery. The very words “baby goat” act on my brain in ways I intensely resent. But Murugan, who tended his family’s goats until he was in his 20s, writes about animal life (and death, lust, resentment) without a whiff of sentimentality. He grew up with these animals. He knows that the jaws of baby goats ache the first time they nurse. He knows the smell of a cobra in the dark.

There’s a certain kind of reader who has made it this far into the review but who remains distracted, a little uneasy, wondering: How badly will this little goat be made to suffer? If very badly, why bother with such a story? Why go to literature to encounter suffering? “The Story of a Goat” answers this question with more grace, wit and feeling than any book I’ve encountered in recent memory. We go to such stories for the relief of honesty; to see what is hidden brought to light; to acknowledge, if here alone, the pain routinely inflicted on lives normally considered too insignificant to be the subject of great literature.

And how the little goat suffers. She watches her playmates get castrated when they reach sexual maturity. She falls in love. (Murugan writes a disconcertingly effective goat sex scene.) The old woman refuses to be parted from her little pet, however, and Poonachi is separated from her beloved. She burns with rage at her human mother. She is bred, violently. Famine stalks the land.

The peculiarities of this society creep into the story. Each new baby — human or animal — must be tallied, and their ears pierced. Farmers and herders face a harsh interrogation about the parentage of their creatures — particularly those in possession of black goats, which are regarded with hostility. Originally published in 2016, the novel feels prophetic, anticipating the new law in India that grants citizenship to migrants on the basis of religion, transforming it, in effect, into a Hindu nationalist state.

Murugan traces the entire life of his little goat — her despair, her small acts of heroism, her longing — with Chekhovian clarity. Each sentence in Raman’s supple translation is modest, sculpted and clean, but behind each you sense a fund of deep wisdom about the vagaries of the rains, politics, behavior — human and animal. It was Chekhov who once said that anyone could write a biography of Socrates, but it takes skill to tell the stories of all the smaller, anonymous lives.

“Once, in a village, there was a goat,” the book begins. “The birth of an ordinary creature never leaves a trace, does it?” We are all such ordinary creatures, Murugan reveals; if any of our fugitive traces remain, we leave them in one another’s hands.”
parulsehgal  2019  perumalmurugan  olgatokarczuk  literature  fables  goats  animals  small  india  nkalyanraman  translation  toread  surveillance  caste  colorism  gender  mobviolence  chekhov  fugitivity 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The “Bernie Blackout” Could Help Sanders Win
"SEN. BERNIE SANDERS faced a media blackout that helped sink his 2016 run for president. Ahead of 2020, the trend continues: Sanders gets less media coverage and a higher rate of negative coverage than his top rivals for the Democratic nomination. But this time, says The Intercept’s D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim, the blackout could actually help Bernie win."
berniesanders  media  2019  2020  ryangrim  politics 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Candidates: Bernie Sanders - The New York Times
“We spoke with the Vermont senator about his journey from the fringes of American politics to the forefront — and the ideas that shaped him along the way.”



“In Part 2 of our series on pivotal moments in the lives of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, we spoke with Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and democratic socialist. Mr. Sanders reflected on his education in politics and how he galvanized grass-roots support to evolve from outraged outsider to mainstream candidate with little shift in his message.

Four key moments from our interview with the senator

His arrival in Vermont and early involvement with the Liberty Union

Although Mr. Sanders is best-known for his association with Vermont, the schoolhouse for his early career in politics, he spent his childhood in a rent-controlled apartment in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. “Sensitivity to class was embedded in me then quite deeply,” Mr. Sanders has said of this time.

The factors that took him from Brooklyn to Vermont reflect an insistence on revolution that has colored his career.

Born to Polish immigrants and raised in precarious financial circumstances, Mr. Sanders had early inclinations toward socialism that were cemented with the death of his mother. Caring for her during his college years exposed him intimately to gaps in the American health care system.

Mr. Sanders went in search of a place that could nurture his nascent political ideology, visiting a socialist kibbutz in Israel and ultimately landing with the peaceniks of rural Vermont.

“I was doing some writing. I was banging nails, doing a little bit of carpentry work,” Mr. Sanders said of this time. He freelanced for an alternative newspaper, The Vermont Freeman, writing articles like “The Revolution Is Life Versus Death” while making film strips about a socialist he admired: Eugene Debs. Mr. Debs was the “Socialist Party candidate for president six times,” Mr. Sanders noted. “You know, somebody I admired a whole lot.”

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Debs have something in common: resilience in the face of political failure. In Vermont, Mr. Sanders became involved with a fringe political party, the Liberty Union, that sought to champion industrial nationalization and opposition to the Vietnam War. Mr. Sanders ran as a Liberty Union candidate in four state elections, receiving less than 5 percent of the vote each time.

His promise to address wealth inequality and his condemnation of billionaires began to resonate with working-class people upstate. Soon, he had his eyes fixed on the 1981 race for mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city.

Winning his first election — by 10 votes

“You would literally not believe if I told you how little we knew about politics,” Mr. Sanders said of his first race for mayor.

“I mean real politics,” he said. “It’s one thing to run for statewide office knowing you’re not going to win and get on a radio show and talk about issues, which I could do. But the nitty-gritty of politics, you know.”

Mr. Sanders’s strategy was to mobilize grass-roots support in the working-class districts of Burlington — specifically people in “low-income housing projects where people were getting a raw deal from the city,” he said.

In doing so, Mr. Sanders generated a higher turnout than most mayoral races commanded. After a recount, Mr. Sanders won by 10 votes, beating a 10-year incumbent and roiling establishment politicians in the city.

“Lessons of this moment is that winning politics is grass-roots politics.” Mr. Sanders said “that winning politics is developing coalitions of working people, of low-income people, of women, of environmentalists.”

A parallel city government

Mr. Sanders faced the limits of his political outrage during his first term as mayor, which became an education in coalition building. He was viewed by the Board of Aldermen, Burlington’s version of a city council, as “an accident that should never have happened,” he said.

“Bernie Sanders is a fluke,” he said. “That was the word they used.”

Mr. Sanders had to figure out how to accomplish his agenda despite opposition from Democrats and Republicans. After the board fired his secretary, Mr. Sanders got the message that his appointees would not be welcome in the city government. “It was a brutal year,” he said. “So what we had to do was literally form a parallel city government.”

He gathered volunteers to staff his informal team of unpaid appointees. They started “neighborhood planning associations,” allocating city funds to neighborhood councils to spend at their discretion. In doing so, they cultivated a widespread sense of antagonism toward the board.

By knocking doors in a freezing Burlington winter, Mr. Sanders nearly doubled voter turnout in the board election the coming year. Turnout “was just off the charts,” he said.

Unseating board members in working-class districts gave him the support his agenda needed, enabling his rise as a major political figure in the state.

Going national

Mr. Sanders began to connect his structural grievances with national politics to his constituency — working to convince local voters that the actions of far-off politicians in far-off places should matter to them.

In doing so, he managed to fix Burlington’s pot holes and plow the streets while also establishing relations with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. His rejection of American intervention in Latin America resulted in his controversial support for the Nicaraguan leftist leader Daniel Ortega.

Asked about this stance, Mr. Sanders said he believed at the time that the United States should not be involved with “overthrowing small governments.”

“We were aware that this was a very controversial moment,” he added. “We were also aware that the United States at that time was supporting many governments in Latin America who were much more brutal than Ortega was.”

Mr. Sanders says that his campaign against intervention was relevant to Burlington. “If we were spending a whole lot of money in Washington under Reagan — investing in military spending or we’re giving tax breaks to the rich — that impacted the city of Burlington,” he said.

Today, his insistence that the global affects the local still forms the bedrock of his presidential platform — one that is built on overhauling health care, tax policy and the national budget. He says that if Washington is “spending this money on the military or they’re busy invading another country or whatever they’re doing, we should be speaking up on those issues.”

“All of this,” he said, “has to do with empowering people to understand that in a democracy, they can determine the future.””
berniesanders  history  burlington  vermont  politics  grassroots  coalitions  2020  2019  us  organizing  sandinistas  danielortega  nicaragua  sovietunion  sistercities  integrity  local  national  economics  democracy 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Pete Buttigieg on Bernie Sanders
“In this new century, there are a daunting number of important issues which are to be confronted if we are to progress as a nation. Each must be addressed thoroughly and energetically. But in order to accomplish the collective goals of our society, we must first address how we deal with issues. We must reexamine the psychological and political climate of American politics. As it stands, our future is at risk due to a troubling tendency toward cynicism among voters and elected officials. The successful resolution of every issue before us depends on the fundamental question of public integrity.

A new attitude has swept American politics. Candidates have discovered that it is easier to be elected by not offending anyone rather than by impressing the voters. Politicians are rushing for the center, careful not to stick their necks out on issues. Most Democrats shy away from the word “liberal” like a horrid accusation. Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush uses the centrist rhetoric of “compassionate conservatism” while Pat Buchanan, once considered a mainstream Republican, has been driven off the ideological edge of the GOP. Just as film producers shoot different endings and let test audiences select the most pleasing, some candidates run “test platforms” through sample groups to see which is most likely to win before they speak out on a major issue. This disturbing trend reveals cynicism, a double-sided problem, which is perhaps the greatest threat to the continued success of the American political system.

Cynical candidates have developed an ability to outgrow their convictions in order to win power. Cynical citizens have given up on the election process, going to the polls at one of the lowest rates in the democratic world. Such an atmosphere inevitably distances our society from its leadership and is thus a fundamental threat to the principles of democracy. It also calls into question what motivates a run for office — in many cases, apparently, only the desire to occupy it. Fortunately for the political process, there remain a number of committed individuals who are steadfast enough in their beliefs to run for office to benefit their fellow Americans. Such people are willing to eschew political and personal comfort and convenience because they believe they can make a difference. One outstanding and inspiring example of such integrity is the country’s only independent congressman, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

Sanders’s courage is evident in the first word he uses to describe himself: “socialist.” In a country where “communism” is still the dirtiest of ideological dirty words, in a climate where even liberalism is considered radical, and socialism is immediately and perhaps willfully confused with communism, a politician dares to call himself a socialist? He does indeed. Here is someone who has “looked into his own soul” and expressed an ideology, the endorsement of which, in today’s political atmosphere, is analogous to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Even though he has lived through a time in which an admitted socialist could not act in a film, let alone hold a congressional seat, Sanders is not afraid to be candid about his political persuasion.

After numerous political defeats in his traditionally Republican state, Sanders won the office of mayor of Burlington by ten votes. A successful and popular mayor, he went on to win Vermont’s one congressional seat in 1990. Since then, he has taken many courageous and politically risky stands on issues facing the nation. He has come under fire from various conservative religious groups because of his support for same-sex marriages. His stance on gun control led to NRA-organized media campaigns against him. Sanders has also shown creativity in organizing drug-shopping trips to Canada for senior citizens to call attention to inflated drug prices in the United States.

While impressive, Sanders’s candor does not itself represent political courage. The nation is teeming with outspoken radicals in one form or another. Most are sooner called crazy than courageous. It is the second half of Sanders’s political role that puts the first half into perspective: he is a powerful force for conciliation and bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. In Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote that “we should not be too hasty in condemning all compromise as bad morals. For politics and legislation are not matters for inflexible principles or unattainable ideals.” It may seem strange that someone so steadfast in his principles has a reputation as a peacemaker between divided forces in Washington, but this is what makes Sanders truly remarkable. He represents President Kennedy’s ideal of “compromises of issues, not of principles.”

Sanders has used his unique position as the lone independent congressman to help Democrats and Republicans force hearings on the internal structure of the International Monetary Fund, which he sees as excessively powerful and unaccountable. He also succeeded in quietly persuading reluctant Republicans and President Clinton to ban the import of products made by underage workers. Sanders drew some criticism from the far left when he chose to grudgingly endorse President Clinton’s bids for election and reelection as president. Sanders explained that while he disagreed with many of Clinton’s centrist policies, he felt that he was the best option for America’s working class.

Sanders’s positions on many difficult issues are commendable, but his real impact has been as a reaction to the cynical climate which threatens the effectiveness of the democratic system. His energy, candor, conviction, and ability to bring people together stand against the current of opportunism, moral compromise, and partisanship which runs rampant on the American political scene. He and a few others like him have the power to restore principle and leadership in Congress and to win back the faith of a voting public weary and wary of political opportunism. Above all, I commend Bernie Sanders for giving me an answer to those who say American young people see politics as a cesspool of corruption, beyond redemption. I have heard that no sensible young person today would want to give his or her life to public service. I can personally assure you this is untrue.”
berniesanders  petebuttigieg  2019  2000  integrity 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
How TikTok Holds Our Attention | The New Yorker
“I found it both freeing and disturbing to spend time on a platform that didn’t ask me to pretend that I was on the Internet for a good reason. I was not giving TikTok my attention because I wanted to keep up with the news, or because I was trying to soothe and irritate myself by looking at photos of my friends on vacation. I was giving TikTok my attention because it was serving me what would retain my attention, and it could do that because it had been designed to perform algorithmic pyrotechnics that were capable of making a half hour pass before I remembered to look away.

We have been inadvertently preparing for this experience for years. On YouTube and Twitter and Instagram, recommendation algorithms have been making us feel individually catered to while bending our selfhood into profitable shapes. TikTok favors whatever will hold people’s eyeballs, and it provides the incentives and the tools for people to copy that content with ease. The platform then adjusts its predilections based on the closed loop of data that it has created. This pattern seems relatively trivial when the underlying material concerns shaving cream and Crocs, but it could determine much of our cultural future. The algorithm gives us whatever pleases us, and we, in turn, give the algorithm whatever pleases it. As the circle tightens, we become less and less able to separate algorithmic interests from our own.”



“In China, daily life has become even more tech-driven than it is in the U.S. People can pay for things by letting cameras scan their faces; last year, a high school in Hangzhou installed scanners that recorded classrooms every thirty seconds and classified students’ facial expressions as neutral, happy, sad, angry, upset, or surprised. The Chinese government has been assembling what it calls the Social Credit System, a network of overlapping assessments of citizen trustworthiness, with opaque calculations that integrate information from public records and private databases. The government has also set benchmarks for progress in artificial-intelligence development at five-year intervals. Last year, Tianjin announced plans to put sixteen billion dollars toward A.I. funding; Shanghai announced a plan to raise fifteen billion.”



“I had stopped impulsively checking TikTok after a month—I already have enough digital tools to insure that I never need to sit alone with the simple fact of being alive. But I could understand being thirteen and feeling like the world would be better if as many people as possible could be seen by as many people as possible all the time. I could imagine experiencing a social platform as a vast, warm ocean of affection and excitement, even if that ocean needed money that it could generate only by persuading you not to leave. I wondered how many baby siblings of these TikTok fanatics were at home, sitting in front of iPads, adrift in an endless stream of YouTube videos. Perhaps the time had come to let the algorithm treat the rest of us like babies, too. Maybe it knows more about what we like than we do. Maybe it knows that if it can capture our attention for long enough it won’t have to ask us what we like anymore. It will have already decided.”
tiktok  jiatolentino  2019  attention  algorithms  china  artificialintelligence  ai 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
My So-Karen Life - The New York Times
“All our teachers were Jeans, and the Jeans loved the Karens of course, for their neat, sexy cursive and their indifference to pedagogy. “Why is our state bird the chickadee?” I wanted to know. “Why not the robin, or the blue jay, or the sea gull? Why, in fact, not the mallard duck?”

Karens never asked why we had to memorize all the state birds. They just did it. If Karens were a state, their motto would be “Because.””



“You know how Karens are because we live on Planet Karen.”
patriarchy  sarahmiller  feminism  generations  2019  centrism  selfhood  freedom  happiness  karens  whiteness  pettiness  sameness  bullying  economics  education  pedagogy  unschooling  deschooling  groupthink  brainwashing  injustice  justice  socialjustice  intersectionality  race  racism  gender  power 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Young Left Is a Third Party - The Atlantic
“The United States is a fortress of gerontocracy besieged by a youth rebellion. America’s leaders are old—very old. The average age in Congress has never been higher, and our national leaders are all approaching 80. Nancy Pelosi was born in 1940, Mitch McConnell came along in 1942, and Donald Trump, the baby of this power trio, followed in 1946, making him several weeks older than his predecessors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are 77 and 78 years old, respectively. Every individual in this paragraph came into the world before the International Monetary Fund and the CIA; before the invention of the transistor and the Polaroid camera; before the Roswell UFO incident and the independence of India.

The nation’s finances are almost as skewed toward the elderly as its politics are. Americans 55 and up account for less than one-third of the population, but they own two-thirds of the nation’s wealth, according to the Federal Reserve. That’s the highest level of elderly wealth concentration on record. The reason is simple: To an unprecedented degree, older Americans own the most valuable real estate and investment portfolios. They’ve captured more than 80 percent of stock-market growth since the end of the Great Recession.

Americans under the age of 40, for their part, are historically well educated, historically peaceful, and historically law-abiding. But this impressive résumé of conscientiousness hasn’t translated into much economic or political power.

Instead, young Americans beset with high student debt ran into the buzz saw of a painful recession and slow recovery. Today they are poorer, in income and in wealth, than similarly young groups of previous decades. “In the U.S, as in the U.K. and in much of Europe, 2008 was the end of the end of history,” says Keir Milburn, the author of Generation Left, a book on young left-wing movements. “The last decade in the U.K. has been the worst decade for wage growth for 220 years. In the U.S., this generation is the first in a century that expects to have lower lifetime earnings than their parents. It has created an epochal shift.”

Young Americans demanding more power, control, and justice have veered sharply to the left. This lurch was first evident in the two elections of Barack Obama, when he won the youth vote by huge margins. And young Americans didn’t edge back to the political center under Obama; they just kept moving left. Obama won about 60 percent of voters younger than 30 in the 2008 primary. Bernie Sanders won more than 70 percent of under-30 voters in the 2016 primary, which pushed Hillary Clinton to the left and dragged issues like Medicare for All and free college from the fringe to the mainstream of political debate.

To many observers, it might seem like young voters have remade the Democratic Party in their image—as a claque of “woke” socialists. In May, the historian Niall Ferguson and Eyck Freymann, a research analyst, wrote in The Atlantic that the U.S. was at the brink of a great generation war, in which older conservative Republicans would do battle with Democrats, who were “rapidly becoming the party of the young.”

But upon closer examination, the Democrats aren’t really the party of the young—or, for that matter, of social-justice leftists. In the most sophisticated poll of the Iowa caucus, Joe Biden polled at 2 percent among voters under 30, within the margin of error of zero. Nationally, he is in single digits among Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996. Yet Biden is the Democratic front-runner for the 2020 presidential nomination, thanks to his huge advantage among older voters—especially older black voters—who are considerably more moderate than younger Democrats.

Bernie Sanders, by contrast, leads all candidates among voters under 30 and polls just 5 percent among voters over 65. In a national Quinnipiac poll asking voters which candidate has the best ideas, Sanders crushes Biden 27 percent to 4 percent among those under 35 and receives an equal and opposite crushing at the hands of Biden among voters over 65: 28 percent to 4 percent.

Age ‬doesn’t just divide Republicans and Democrats from each other, in other words; age divides young leftists from both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats under 30 have almost no measurable interest in the party’s front-runner. Democrats over 65 have almost no measurable interest in the favored candidate of the younger generation. ‬This is not a picture of Democrats smoothly transforming into the “party of the young.” It’s evidence that age—perhaps even more than class or race—is now the most important fault line within the Democratic Party.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

It might be most useful to think about ‬young progressives as a third party trapped in a two-party system. Radicalized by America’s political sclerosis and economic and social inequality, they are a powerful movement politically domiciled within a larger coalition of moderate older minorities and educated suburbanites, who don’t always know what to do with their rambunctious bunkmates.

What would this progressive third party’s platform look like? In one word, justice: Social justice, sought through a reappraisal of power relationships in social and corporate life, and economic justice, sought through the redistribution of income from the rich to the less fortunate.

One can make out the contours of this agenda in “Hidden Tribes,” a 2018 study of the political views of 8,000 Americans, which sorted the country’s voting-age population into seven political groups. The study called the youngest and most left-wing group in the survey Progressive Activists. They accounted for 8 percent of the population and as much as one-third of likely voters in the Democratic Party, due to their higher-than-average engagement in politics. (I don’t want to imply that Sanders voters and the Progressive Activist tribe are synonymous: The demographics of Elizabeth Warren’s support suggest that she attracts a large number of Progressive Activists too.)

Compared with the average American, Progressive Activists—“young, secular, cosmopolitan, and angry”—were more likely to be under 30, college-educated, and white; twice as likely to say they never pray; and three times as likely to say they’re “ashamed” of the country. They are motivated by the existential threat of climate change, strongly pro-immigration, and more concerned about police brutality than about crime or terrorism. Perhaps most distinctive, they are attuned to structural challenges in society and skeptical of the individualist strain of the American dream. In response to a question about whether personal responsibility or broader socioeconomic factors are more important for determining success, 95 percent of Progressive Activists said that “some people’s situations are so challenging that no amount of work will allow them to find success.” Most Americans, including 69 percent of moderates, preferred this statement: “People who work hard can find success no matter what situation they were born into.”

This group’s support for Medicare for All, free college, and student-debt relief is sometimes likened to a “give me free stuff” movement. But every movement wants free stuff, if by free stuff one means “stuff given preferential treatment in the tax code.” By this definition, Medicare is free stuff, and investment income is free stuff, and suburban home values propped up by the mortgage-interest deduction are free stuff. The free stuff in the tax code today benefits Americans with income and wealth—a population that is disproportionately old. Medicare for All might be politically infeasible, but it is, taken literally, a request that the federal government extend to the entire population the insurance benefits now exclusively reserved for the elderly. That’s not hatred or resentment; it sounds more like justice.

Ben Judah: The Millennial left is tired of waiting

Most Americans over 40 support several measures of both social justice and economic justice. But across ethnicities, many Americans have a deep aversion to anything that can be characterized as “political correctness” or “socialism.” And this might be the biggest challenge for the young progressive agenda.

For example, the Democratic presidential candidates who focused most explicitly on sexism and racial injustice have flamed out. In its premortem for Kamala Harris’s presidential run, The New York Times quoted one anonymous adviser who blamed the candidate’s struggles on the misguided idealism of her younger staffers, who took their cues from an unrepresentative sample of Twitter activists. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign, too, was widely derided as a shallow attempt to create viral moments for his woke online followers. ‬Notably, these candidates failed to win much support among the very demographic groups for which they were advocating. ‬‬

Second, the progressive economic agenda might be suffused with the egalitarian ethic, but its landmark policies aren’t that popular. While Medicare for All often polls well, its public support is exquisitely sensitive to framing. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the net favorability of eliminating private insurance or requiring most Americans to pay more in taxes—both part of the Sanders plan—is negative-23 points.

The Medicare for All debate is a microcosm of a larger divide. The young left’s deep skepticism toward capitalism simply isn’t shared by previous generations. According to Gallup polling, Gen X is firmly pro-capitalist and Baby Boomers, who came of age during the Cold War, prefer capitalism over socialism by a two-to-one margin. (You can point out to your parents that Social Security and Medicare are, essentially, socialism for the old, but that’s not the same as converting them into Berniecrats.)

“This is only the … [more]
politics  us  2019  derekthompson  progressive  berniesanders  boomers  generations  geny  millennials  government  medicareforall  highered  highereducation  justice  socialjustice  economics  priorities  democrats  democracy  socialism  medicare  socialsecurity  wealth  inequality  babyboomers 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Toward an Applicable Theory of Just Not | Autostraddle
"Another popular American saying is that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Our definitions of work and love are in complex and inexorable orbits around each other: our career (if we have the privilege of a ‘career’ rather than a ‘job’) should be something we love; our personal relationships are work; we ask ourselves gravely whether we’re ‘doing the work’ or whether she’s ready to ‘work on herself’; the necessity of laboring to survive under capitalism means that we often best serve the material needs of the people we love by working away from them so they can eat. The power of love — love of our families, love for our professional interests — should make work outside the home a joy; the power of work — making the daily effort of actively maintaining a relationship, of committing to one’s own personal growth to be the best partner or family member possible — should ensure that love flourishes. Attempts to clarify or structure these relationships get complicated. The explosion of Emotional Labor Discourse spoke powerfully to something that was clearly already under the skin of many people, especially women, about how much work was involved in trying to experience love; the more recent backlash to Emotional Labor Discourse speaks to something else, a deep frustration and resentment with the way that the most human and intimate parts of us, our ability to care, have become something we understand best as commodities. It’s not that those dichotomies are impossible to reconcile; it’s that it’s so difficult as to maybe be impossible to conceptualize an American sense of self outside of work, and to have a sense of what contentment or relationships or building a life and a self might look like that isn’t defined by embracing work joyfully, as loving working so much that you wake up grateful for it every day.

The logistics and concrete realities of work stoppages and related demonstrations of refusal under capitalism are widely misunderstood. On top of the common stigmatized assumptions that workers strike because they’re greedy for higher wages, or just lazy, there is a temptation to see refusal as an isolated and individual act, one rooted in sentiment rather than strategy. Most of us are no longer aware of the enormous communal organizing and effort that enabled historical labor milestones like the grape boycott, or the efforts of contemporary organizers to provide resources or childcare so that boycotts or strikes can be sustainable enough to be effective. Perhaps the most famous example is the myth many American schoolchildren learn, that Rosa Parks sat down in the whites only section of her city bus because she was “tired,” and that a movement rose out of her decision instantaneously. In reality, Rosa Parks’ act of resistance was carefully strategized for maximum impact, and supported by the tireless work of others — the bus boycott that followed in Montgomery was undergirded by an intensely committed network of rides and transportation alternatives so that the community could pull off a bus boycott long enough to impact those in power without losing their jobs or completely giving up their day-to-day life. Erasing this organization helps ensure that most people will see refusal as a personal quirk at best and a personal failing at worst, and certainly not a concerted and viable challenge to consolidated power. It minimizes both how hard it is and how powerful. To refuse to participate often takes much more dedicated effort than continuing as usual; it’s a risky endeavor, to just not.

The last three years has seen a greater awareness of a politics of refusal in the general American public than we’ve seen perhaps since the ’60s. Generations of especially white Americans raised on a narrative of civic engagement are being urged to call their senators and to vote, but also learning the power in just not: not attending the rally, not turning on the TV to give the speech its ratings; not buying from the store that donates to the candidate you don’t like. Stop going home for the holidays to parents who would see your loved ones incarcerated or deported, we (the children of white middle-class families) are advised; lose your kin. I find an illustrated essay on the internet about a passenger plane flight being used to transport migrant children separated from their families for detention. What would it take, the piece asks, for the flight attendant to refuse to seat them? For the pilot to refuse to take off? How do we get to a place, it asks, where our natural response to being asked to work for something sick is refusal? A new organization has begun a campaign to convince ICE employees to quit their jobs, promising to help make the process manageable. History is full of people who just didn’t. How many does it take for something that needs badly to fall apart to do so?

What’s difficult to see from the outside looking in is how hard it is to just not. We do, many of us, love what we do. Many of us love to work — I reminisce with my friend about how much I loved food service, the deep satisfaction of preparing everything just right and watching hungry people get full; if only it weren’t for the punishing hours and abusive customers and desperately hoping for tips so I could make rent. After the revolution, I joke, I hope I get to make coffee and sandwiches for free. We love what we do, at least sometimes; we love the people our work provides for — the teachers and nurses who strike are worried about their students and patients as well, moreso than the critics who feel like they’re abandoning them. We love the idea of stability we feel working hard and well might afford; in a culture obsessed with the bootstraps fantasy, it can be hard even for those who know better to totally abandon it. There’s something beyond those logistical attachments, though; a way in which work makes a kind of home for us, a birds’ nest painstakingly pieced together out of scraps and found matter. You could call it a sunk cost fallacy, or Stockholm syndrome, or you could see something more human in it: that the American religion of work is a disease and that at the same time work is a kind of devotion, and devotion is the backbone of love.

The year after my divorce I am tired in a way I could never have imagined before, but I can’t stop working. I spend my time between tasks thinking about how I can find more work; I’m deeply over frivolous problems and unnecessary interpersonal backbending and yet can’t stop seeking them out, desperate for more to solve, to fix. I ask for homework in therapy, frustrated when I’m not assigned books to read or dysfunctional coping mechanisms to research and am instead told to sit with my feelings. I should be relieved at finally completing a seemingly endless interstate separation and finally living independently, part of a network of people who love me; I am, and I also feel a kind of grief that’s bigger than my marriage or the end of it. Like many people who grew up the way I did — eldest daughter, child of an unstable parent, overachieving millennial, pick your poison — I had always believed that if I worked hard enough, did everything right, I could keep everything going, make everything work. I had spent so long being so committed to that edict I had never wanted to consider its inverse: If I stopped working, everything could fall apart. I have proven it true, in this instance; when I stopped doing the heavy lifting in my marriage, it collapsed. If I could lose that, what else can I lose? What else in my life is being held together only by my round-the-clock effort, gone the moment I relax my grip?

Lately there’s been a resurgence of interest in the Amazon strike last year in Shakopee; WIRED’s profile on it and the East African immigrants who led it then and still do now came out last month.

“I’ve had many jobs,” [Rep. Ilhan Omar] told the crowd. “I cleaned offices, I worked on assembly lines, I was even a security guard once. I’ve had jobs where we did not have enough breaks, where we used to try to go to the bathroom just so that we could pray.” The East African community, she said, demanded better. “Amazon doesn’t work if you don’t work,” she said. “It’s about time we make Amazon understand that.”

Since their initial walkout in 2018, the Somali-led workers’ group has “staged walkouts, brought management to the negotiating table twice, demanded concessions to accommodate Muslim religious practice, and commanded national attention;” the Awood Center, named from the Somali word for power, was also just covered in the New York Times. The workers who have organized with the Awood Center have also seen retaliatory firings, suffered threats from managers and alienation from fellow workers. They’ve made it clear they will continue their campaign.

There’s a saying that anything that could be destroyed by the truth should be; it suggests a cousin proverb, that what could be destroyed by your declining to break your back over it should be. There is so much held together at the seams only by the worst kind of work — not the labor of production, creation, or caretaking, but of smoothing over, choking back, reaching past any limits to be that which will sustain something unsustainable. The scope of it is so vast as to be truly challenging to even process. The power that so many of us have to change the deeply fucked systems we’re part of by abstaining from them — a more active and dangerous prospect than the language makes it sound — is immense, and it is terrifying. It is harder to do than is possible to explicate here; it is the most honest work there is."
capitalism  labor  love  refusal  resistance  2019  work  divorce  emotionallabor 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Tragedy of "The Tragedy of the Commons" - Scientific American Blog Network
“The man who wrote one of environmentalism’s most-cited essays was a racist, eugenicist, nativist and Islamophobe—plus his argument was wrong”



“Fifty years ago, University of California professor Garrett Hardin penned an influential essay in the journal Science. Hardin saw all humans as selfish herders: we worry that our neighbors’ cattle will graze the best grass. So, we send more of our cows out to consume that grass first. We take it first, before someone else steals our share. This creates a vicious cycle of environmental degradation that Hardin described as the “tragedy of the commons.”

It’s hard to overstate Hardin’s impact on modern environmentalism. His views are taught across ecology, economics, political science and environmental studies. His essay remains an academic blockbuster, with almost 40,000 citations. It still gets republished in prominent environmental anthologies.

But here are some inconvenient truths: Hardin was a racist, eugenicist, nativist and Islamophobe. He is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a known white nationalist. His writings and political activism helped inspire the anti-immigrant hatred spilling across America today.

And he promoted an idea he called “lifeboat ethics”: since global resources are finite, Hardin believed the rich should throw poor people overboard to keep their boat above water.

To create a just and vibrant climate future, we need to instead cast Hardin and his flawed metaphor overboard.

People who revisit Hardin’s original essay are in for a surprise. Its six pages are filled with fear-mongering. Subheadings proclaim that “freedom to breed is intolerable.” It opines at length about the benefits if “children of improvident parents starve to death.” A few paragraphs later Hardin writes: “If we love the truth we must openly deny the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” And on and on. Hardin practically calls for a fascist state to snuff out unwanted gene pools.

Or build a wall to keep immigrants out. Hardin was a virulent nativist whose ideas inspired some of today’s ugliest anti-immigrant sentiment. He believed that only racially homogenous societies could survive. He was also involved with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a hate group that now cheers President Trump’s racist policies. Today, American neo-Nazis cite Hardin’s theories to justify racial violence.

These were not mere words on paper. Hardin lobbied Congress against sending food aid to poor nations, because he believed their populations were threatening Earth’s “carrying capacity.”

Of course, plenty of flawed people have left behind noble ideas. That Hardin’s tragedy was advanced as part of a white nationalist project should not automatically condemn its merits.

But the facts are not on Hardin’s side. For one, he got the history of the commons wrong. As Susan Cox pointed out, early pastures were well regulated by local institutions. They were not free-for-all grazing sites where people took and took at the expense of everyone else.

Many global commons have been similarly sustained through community institutions. This striking finding was the life’s work of Elinor Ostrom, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics (technically called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel). Using the tools of science—rather than the tools of hatred—Ostrom showed the diversity of institutions humans have created to manage our shared environment.

Of course, humans can deplete finite resources. This often happens when we lack appropriate institutions to manage them. But let’s not credit Hardin for that common insight. Hardin wasn’t making an informed scientific case. Instead, he was using concerns about environmental scarcity to justify racial discrimination.

We must reject his pernicious ideas on both scientific and moral grounds. Environmental sustainability cannot exist without environmental justice. Are we really prepared to follow Hardin and say there are only so many lead pipes we can replace? Only so many bodies that should be protected from cancer-causing pollutants? Only so many children whose futures matter?

This is particularly important when we deal with climate change. Despite what Hardin might have said, the climate crisis is not a tragedy of the commons. The culprit is not our individual impulses to consume fossil fuels to the ruin of all. And the solution is not to let small islands in Chesapeake Bay or whole countries in the Pacific sink into the past, without a seat on our planetary lifeboat.

Instead, rejecting Hardin’s diagnosis requires us to name the true culprit for the climate crisis we now face. Thirty years ago, a different future was available. Gradual climate policies could have slowly steered our economy towards gently declining carbon pollution levels. The costs to most Americans would have been imperceptible.

But that future was stolen from us. It was stolen by powerful, carbon-polluting interests who blocked policy reforms at every turn to preserve their short-term profits. They locked each of us into an economy where fossil fuel consumption continues to be a necessity, not a choice.

This is what makes attacks on individual behavior so counterproductive. Yes, it’s great to drive an electric vehicle (if you can afford it) and purchase solar panels (if powerful utilities in your state haven’t conspired to make renewable energy more expensive). But the point is that interest groups have structured the choices available to us today. Individuals don’t have the agency to steer our economic ship from the passenger deck.

As Harvard historian Naomi Oreskes reminds us, “[abolitionists] wore clothes made of cotton picked by slaves. But that did not make them hypocrites … it just meant that they were also part of the slave economy, and they knew it. That is why they acted to change the system, not just their clothes.”

Or as Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez tweeted: “Living in the world as it is isn’t an argument against working towards a better future.” The truth is that two-thirds of all the carbon pollution ever released into the atmosphere can be traced to the activities of just ninety companies.

These corporations’ efforts to successfully thwart climate action are the real tragedy.

We are left with very little time. We need political leaders to pilot our economy through a period of rapid economic transformation, on a grand scale unseen since the Second World War. And to get there, we are going to have make sure our leaders listen to us, not—as my colleagues and I show in our research—fossil fuel companies.

Hope requires us to start from an unconditional commitment to one another, as passengers aboard a common lifeboat being rattled by heavy winds. The climate movement needs more people on this lifeboat, not fewer. We must make room for every human if we are going to build the political power necessary to face down the looming oil tankers and coal barges that send heavy waves in our direction. This is a commitment at the heart of proposals like the Green New Deal.

Fifty years on, let’s stop the mindless invocation of Hardin. Let’s stop saying that we are all to blame because we all overuse shared resources. Let’s stop championing policies that privilege environmental protection for some human beings at the expense of others. And let’s replace Hardin’s flawed metaphor with an inclusive vision for humanity—one based on democratic governance and cooperation in this time of darkness.

Instead of writing a tragedy, we must offer hope for every single human on Earth. Only then will the public rise up to silence the powerful carbon polluters trying to steal our future.”
eugenics  environmentalism  mattomildenberger  science  2019  race  racism  nativism  islamophobia  garretthardin  elinorostrom  economics  immigration  population  sustainability  climatechange  behavior  naomioreskes  alexandriaocasio-cortez 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
On Time and Water – a conversation with Andri Snær Magnason
"Andri Snær Magnason is an Icelandic writer and documentary filmmaker. In this interview, Andri discusses his new book On Time and Water and our relationship to time in an age of ecological crisis. With Iceland having lost its first large glacier, the Ok glacier, this past summer—Andri discusses the ways in which geological time is beginning to move at the speed of human time. In order to bring about a planetary paradigm shift, he says, we need new ways to see and imagine ourselves into the future."
time  scale  climatechange  generations  geology  glaciers  iceland  2019  andrisnærmagnason  planet  environment  history  naturalhistory  water  longnow 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
A Powerful Statement of Resistance from a College Student on Trial in Moscow | The New Yorker
"Instead of writing my own column, I have translated Zhukov’s final statement, delivered in court on Wednesday. I did it because it is a beautiful text that makes for instructive reading. Parts of it seem to describe American reality as accurately as the Russian one. Parts of it show what resistance can be. All of it, I hope, will make readers think twice before they use the word “Russians” to mean goons. I also hope it will serve as a reminder of what we miss while we are—rightly—obsessed with American politics, which is made more provincial every day by its isolationist President and the need to try to reduce the harm he causes. As for the column I was going to write, I will still have plenty of opportunities to write it, while the very young man who spoke the following words will be unable to publish for the next three years.

“This court hearing is concerned primarily with words and their meaning. We have discussed specific sentences, the subtleties of phrasing, different possible interpretations, and I hope that we have succeeded at showing to the honorable court that I am not an extremist, either from the point of view of linguistics or from the point of view of common sense. But now I would like to talk about a few things that are more basic than the meaning of words. I would like to talk about why I did the things I did, especially since the court expert offered his opinion on this. I would like to talk about my deep and true motives. The things that have motivated me to take up politics. The reasons why, among other things, I recorded videos for my blog.

“But first I want to say this. The Russian state claims to be the world’s last protector of traditional values. We are told that the state devotes a lot of resources to protecting the institution of the family, and to patriotism. We are also told that the most important traditional value is the Christian faith. Your Honor, I think this may actually be a good thing. The Christian ethic includes two values that I consider central for myself. First, responsibility. Christianity is based on the story of a person who dared to take up the burden of the world. It’s the story of a person who accepted responsibility in the greatest possible sense of that word. In essence, the central concept of the Christian religion is the concept of individual responsibility.

“The second value is love. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is the most important sentence of the Christian faith. Love is trust, empathy, humanity, mutual aid, and care. A society built on such love is a strong society—probably the strongest of all possible societies.

“To understand why I’ve done what I’ve done, all you have to do is look at how the Russian state, which proudly claims to be a defender of these values, does in reality. Before we talk about responsibility, we have to consider what the ethics of a responsible person are. What are the words that a responsible individual repeats to himself throughout his life? I think these words are ‘Remember that your path will be difficult, at times unbearably so. All your loved ones will die. All your plans will go awry. You will be betrayed and abandoned. And you cannot escape death. Life is suffering. Accept it. But once you accept it, once you accept the inevitability of suffering, you must still accept your cross and follow your dream, because otherwise things will only get worse. Be an example, be someone on whom others can depend. Do not obey despots, fight for the freedom of body and soul, and build a country in which your children can be happy.’

“Is this really what we are taught? Is this really the ethics that children absorb at school? Are these the kinds of heroes we honor? No. Our society, as currently constituted, suppresses any possibility of human development. [Fewer than] ten per cent of Russians possess ninety per cent of the country’s wealth. Some of these wealthy individuals are, of course, perfectly decent citizens, but most of this wealth is accumulated not through honest labor that benefits humanity but, plainly, through corruption.

“An impenetrable barrier divides our society in two. All the money is concentrated at the top and no one up there is going to let it go. All that’s left at the bottom—and this is no exaggeration—is despair. Knowing that they have nothing to hope for, that, no matter how hard they try, they cannot bring happiness to themselves or their families, Russian men take their aggression out on their wives, or drink themselves to death, or hang themselves. Russia has the world’s [second] highest rate of suicide among men. As a result, a third of all Russian families are single mothers with their kids. I would like to know: Is this how we are protecting the institution of the family?

“Miron Fyodorov [a rap artist who performs under the name Oxxxymiron], who attended many of my court hearings, has observed that alcohol is cheaper than a textbook in Russian. The state is pushing Russians to make a choice between responsibility and irresponsibility, in favor of the latter.

“Now I’d like to talk about love. Love is impossible in the absence of trust. Real trust is formed of common action. Common action is a rarity in a country where few people feel responsible. And where common action does occur, the guardians of the state immediately see it as a threat. It doesn’t matter what you do—whether you are helping prison inmates, speaking up for human rights, fighting for the environment—sooner or later you’ll either be branded a ‘foreign agent’ or just locked up. The state’s message is clear: ‘Go back to your burrow and don’t take part in common action. If we see more than two people together in the street, we’ll jail you for protesting. If you work together on social issues, we’ll assign you the status of a “foreign agent.” ’ Where can trust come from in a country like this—and where can love grow? I’m speaking not of romantic love but of the love of humanity.

“The only social policy the Russian state pursues consistently is the policy of atomization. The state dehumanizes us in one another’s eyes. In the state’s own eyes, we stopped being human a long time ago. Otherwise, why would it treat its citizens the way it does? Why does it punctuate its treatment of people through daily nightstick beatings, prison torture, inaction in the face of an H.I.V. epidemic, the closure of schools and hospitals, and so on?

“Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror. We let this be done to us, and who have we become? We have become a nation that has unlearned responsibility. We have become a nation that has unlearned love. More than two hundred years ago, Alexander Radishchev [widely regarded as the first Russian political writer], as he travelled from St. Petersburg to Moscow, wrote, ‘I gazed around myself, and my soul was wounded by human suffering. I then looked inside myself, and saw that man’s troubles come from man himself.’ Where are these kinds of people today? Where are the people whose hearts ache this much for what is happening in our country? Why are hardly any people like this left?

“It turns out that the only traditional institution that the Russian state truly respects and protects is the institution of autocracy. Autocracy aims to destroy anyone who actually wants to work for the benefit of the homeland, who isn’t scared to love and take on responsibility. As a result, our long-suffering citizens have had to learn that initiative will be punished, that the boss is always right just because he is the boss, that happiness may be within reach—but not for them. And having learned this, they gradually started to disappear. According to the state statistical authority, Russians are slowly vanishing, at the rate of four hundred thousand people a year. [Deaths exceeded births by nearly two hundred thousand in the first six months of 2019.] You can’t see the people behind the statistics. But try to see them! These are the people who are drinking themselves to death from helplessness, the people freezing to death in unheated hospitals, the people murdered by others, and those who kill themselves. These are people. People like you and me.

“By this point, it’s probably clear why I did what I did. I really want to see these two qualities—responsibility and love—in my fellow-citizens. Responsibility for one’s self, for one’s neighbors, for one’s country. This wish of mine, Your Honor, is another reason why I could not have called for violence. Violence breeds impunity, which breeds irresponsibility. By the same token, violence does not bear love. Still, despite all obstacles, I have no doubt that my wish will come true. I am looking ahead, beyond the horizon of years, and I see a Russia full of responsible, loving people. It will be a truly happy place. I want everyone to imagine Russia like this. And I hope this image can lead you in your work, as it has led me in mine.

“In conclusion, I would like to state that if the court decides that these words are spoken by a truly dangerous criminal, the next few years of my life will be marked by deprivation and adversity. But I look at the people [who have been jailed in the latest wave of activist arrests] and I see smiles on their faces. Two people I met briefly during pretrial detention, Lyosha Minyaylo and Danya Konon, never complained. I will try to follow their example. I will endeavor to take joy in having this chance—the chance to be tested in the name of values I hold dear. In the end, Your Honor, the more frightening my future, the broader the smile with which I look at it. Thank you.”"
mashagessen  yegorzhukov  2019  russia  violence  responsibility  love  trust  civics  language  christianity  empathy  humanism  humanity  mutualaid  care  caring  society  future  freedom  heroes  repression  corruption  inequality  happiness  suicide  families  mironfyodorov  oxxxymiron  action  commonaction  atomization  alexanderradishchev  suffering  life  living  autocracy  vladimirputin  authority 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
If Ukraine Is Impeachable, What’s Afghanistan? - The Atlantic
"Thanks to a trove of government documents made available today courtesy of The Washington Post, we now know that many of those officials were lying. The lies began during the George W. Bush administration and continued through the administration of Barack Obama. The liars included both senior civilian officials and military officers directly responsible for the war’s conduct."

...

"Meanwhile, Congress offered negligible oversight, finding perpetuating the war more convenient than ending it. And members of the press demonstrated little of the outrage regularly heaped upon Trump for his varying offenses.

If those offenses meet the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors, then how are we to classify what has occurred in Afghanistan since U.S. forces first arrived in 2001? And who will demand accountability? After finishing with Trump, Congress has long-overdue work to do."
afghanistan  georgewbush  barackobama  donaldtrump  2019  impeachment  dishonesty  government  war  congress  crime  andrewbacevich 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Alexandra Erin The Meadow We Can Build A Snowman on Twitter: "So, here's a thing about the shoot out where the cops killed a hostage and used civilians as shields: The whole ACTUAL POINT of "law and order" policing, "broken window theory", etc., is the id
“So, here’s a thing about the shoot out where the cops killed a hostage and used civilians as shields:

The whole ACTUAL POINT of “law and order” policing, “broken window theory”, etc., is the idea that when people get away with stuff, they go on to do worse stuff.

See: cops.

Again and again, we let our nation’s poilce get away with carelessness, with cruelty, with negligence, with shooting first so they won’t have to answer questions later, with turning city streets into war zones.

And quite often we as a society are willing to turn away because “they’re criminals” or because it’s happening to those of us with the least power and so those with any social influence feel safe.

But in doing so, we teach the police that they can get away with using their guns to solve any problem, that the gun is the safe and simple solution.

Did the cops run a credit check on the people in the cars they ducked behind? They literally could have been anybody.

“So long as one person is oppressed, no one is free.” sounds like high-minded woo-woo nonsense to the supremely self-interested, but it’s really not. It’s a simple utilitarian axiom and yes, it’s in our interest to believe it.

What violence the state practices on the people we despise and discount will be used against us, as the state becomes accustomed to exercising that power.

We should are about the militarization of far distnt neighborhoods where we don’t personally know anybody who lives there *because the people who live there are people* but if we can’t muster that we should care because it won’t stay there.

See also: the draconian policies allowed and required and justified under FOSTA/SESTA and other anti-sex work laws, which are already causing widespread harm to sex workers and also rippling out further and further.

Cops and their defenders argue about what’s a “good shoot” and a “good kill”… as soon as we reached that point, the question isn’t “Is it necessary to use guns here?” but “Which is safer and easier: solving this without guns, or winning the argument after we use guns?”

Police are learning, every day and often in new and frightening ways, that the safer course is to shoot. Shoot early, shoot often. Shoot to kill so there’s no one left alive to tell a different story.

Gunfire is becoming the conservative response. The path of least resistance.

The whole social justification for active policing is that people will behave badly if there’s not sufficient threat of consequences for their bad actions.

But our police are largely exempt from that.

So either the justification we give them for their use of force is wrong (in which case we need to rethink the whole system) or our police are axiomatically bad and getting worse all the time (in which case we need to rethink the whole system).

This is not inevitable! Nothing about this is natural and automatic! We create the systems that create these outcomes. “If our boys in blue have to think about what they’re doing, they can’t do their jobs!” But what is that job? Turning a crowded intersection into a warzone?

Is shooting a child playing in a park dead on the spot the job? Is shooting a father browsing the shelves at Wal-Mart dead on the spot a job? Breaking down the door of a grandfather who misdialed 911 and shooting him dead, is that the job?

Things aren’t going to get worse before they get better; they’re going to get worse and worse unless and until we have a true cultural upheaval, until we utterly uproot the thinking that underpins policing, until we destroy the “thin blue line” mentality.“
2019  police  lawenforcement  safety  law  lawandorder  cruelty  prisonabolition  negligence  violence  power  militarization  justification  guns  resistance  alexandraerin 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Don’t Think Sanders Can Win? You Don’t Understand His Campaign - The New York Times
“Mr. Sanders has not diluted his message since then, but has instead recommitted to his promises of “big government” socialist reforms — all the while pulling other candidates to his side. Although Mr. Sanders grows in popularity, neither the Democratic Party establishment nor the mainstream media really understand his campaign. That’s because it disregards conventional wisdom in politics today — tax cuts for the elite and corporations and public-private partnerships to finance health care, education, housing and other public services.

After months of predictions of its premature end, Bernie Sanders’s improbable run continues its forward movement. In October, pundits and other election experts suggested that perhaps Mr. Sanders should leave the race and throw his support to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in the wake of her rising poll numbers and his heart attack. But doubts quickly gave way to excitement when Mr. Sanders captured the coveted endorsement of Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. She was soon joined by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

The spirited endorsements of three-quarters of the so-called squad illustrates how Mr. Sanders’s campaign has grown from 2016 when it was criticized for being too white, too male and for underestimating the salience of race and gender oppression. Some of that criticism was overstated. Indeed Mr. Sanders won 52 percent of the black millennial vote in 2016 and was supported by Black Lives Matter activists like Erica Garner, who passed away in 2017. But Mr. Sanders took the criticisms seriously anyway.

Much of the media, though, has been stuck in 2016 and has missed the ways that the Sanders campaign has transformed into a tribune of the oppressed and marginalized. We can also measure this change in the endorsement of Philip Agnew, the former head of the Florida-based Dream Defenders and a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement who has become a campaign surrogate. As well as the endorsement of the Center for Popular Democracy Action on Tuesday, a powerful coalition of more than 40 progressive community groups which will now rally their 600,000 members across the country to organize voters in support of Mr. Sanders. These developments defy the caricature of his campaign as impossibly sexist and implicitly racist.

Instead, Mr. Sanders has reached the typically invisible, downwardly mobile working class with his language of “class warfare.” He has tapped into the anger and bitterness coursing through the lives of regular people who have found it increasingly impossible to make ends meet in this grossly unequal society. Without cynicism or the typical racist explanations that blame African-Americans and Latino immigrants for their own financial hardship, Mr. Sanders blames capitalism. His demands for a redistribution of wealth from the top to the rest of society and universal, government-backed programs have resonated with the forgotten residents of the country.

Since Mr. Trump’s election, “class,” when it’s discussed at all, has been invoked for its hazy power to chart Mr. Trump’s rise and potential fall. Recall the endless analyses of poor and working-class white voters shortly after his election and the few examinations of poor and working-class people of color. But the Sanders campaign has become a powerful platform to amplify the experiences of this multiracial contingent.

Under normal circumstances, the multiracial working class is invisible. This has meant its support for Mr. Sanders’s candidacy has been hard to register in the mainstream coverage of the Democratic race. But these voters are crucial to understanding the resilience of the Sanders campaign, which has been fueled by small dollar donations from more than one million people, a feat none of his opponents has matched. Remarkably, he also has at least 130,000 recurring donors, some of whom make monthly contributions.

Adding to that, Mr. Sanders is the top recipient for donations by teachers, farmers, servers, social workers, retail workers, construction workers, truckers, nurses and drivers as of September. He claims that his donors’ most common employers are Starbucks, Amazon and Walmart, and the most common profession is teaching. Mr. Sanders is also the leading recipient of donations from Latinos as well as the most popular Democrat among registered Latinos who plan to vote in the Nevada and California primaries. According to Essence magazine, Mr. Sanders is the favorite candidate among black women aged 18 to 34. Only 49 percent of his supporters are white, compared with 71 percent of Warren supporters. Perhaps most surprising, more women under 45 support him than men under 45.

Mr. Sanders’s popularity among these voters may be what alienates him within the political establishment and mainstream media. The leadership of the Democratic Party regularly preaches that moderation and pragmatism can appeal to “centrist” Democrats as well as Republicans skeptical of Mr. Trump. It is remarkable that this strategy still has legs after its spectacular failure for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Mrs. Clinton’s rejoinder to Mr. Trump that “America never stopped being great” was tone deaf to millions of ordinary Americans struggling with debt, police brutality and pervasive inequality. Simply focusing on the boorishness of Mr. Trump or offering watered-down versions of what has made Mr. Sanders a household name will not motivate those who do not typically vote or angry voters who recoil at the cynicism of calculating politicians.

In many respects, Bernie Sanders’s standing in the Democratic Party field is shocking. After all, the United States government spent more than half of the 20th century locked in a Cold War against Soviet Communism. That an open and proud socialist is tied with Ms. Warren for second place in the race speaks to the mounting failures of free market capitalism to produce a decent life for a growing number of people. There was a time in America when being called a socialist could end a political career, but Bernie Sanders may ride that label all the way to the White House.”
2019  2020  berniesanders  democrats  elections  keeanga-yamahttataylor  socialism  class  race  campaigning  politics  policy  age  youth  2016  cynicism  media  inequality  labor  marginalization  policebrutality 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
#FreeLiyah on Twitter: "There are now >4,000 "problem-solving courts" (mental health courts, human trafficking courts, re-entry courts, drug intervention courts, veterans courts) in the US. This paper asks: are they solving the problems they purport to
"There are now >4,000 “problem-solving courts” (mental health courts, human trafficking courts, re-entry courts, drug intervention courts, veterans courts) in the US. This paper asks: are they solving the problems they purport to? (Hint: the answer is no)

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3492003&download=yes

This is not a radical paper. It doesn’t discuss abolitionists’ critiques. It DOES elevate some critiques—e.g. that the premise of these courts (“mental health causes crime, so order treatment to reduce crime”) is often wrong because it ignores a real cause, like impoverishment—

that abolitionists also voice. But there’s one thing in particular that I think this paper explains super well, and that we often discount:

One “problem” that “problem-solving courts” DO address really well is: “a growing sense of judicial dissatisfaction and disempowerment” in light of the relative increase in power of prosecutors, mandatory sentencing, and other restrictions on judicial authority.

So of COURSE judges get down with these courts. They feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, get to run their little empires (the paper calls this the “empire-building hypothesis”, which… yes), feel good about themselves.

And, crucially, this paper shows that *when there’s a conflict in which X is the best treatment/intervention option but X entails reducing the power of these judges, they OPPOSE X.*

Which would have been a great place for this paper to link to abolitionists’ critiques, but alas.

More from @survivepunishNY on these themes soon…

Apparently the first link didn’t work. Try here! https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3492003
nathanyaffe  courts  power  justice  us  2019  prisonabolition  mentalhealth  humantrafficking  drugs  veterans 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Anthony Breznican on Twitter: "This is the Nativity display outside the Claremont United Methodist Church in California. It's making some people very upset. And it should. 1/ https://t.co/PN0XmS4Ora" / Twitter
“This is the Nativity display outside the Claremont United Methodist Church in California.

It’s making some people very upset. And it should.

1/

Karen Clark Ristine, a senior minister at the church, shared the image on Facebook with this message.

I wish everyone in the United States would read it this Christmas: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10162927707980314&set=a.10150545085870314&type=3&theater
Stirred to tears by the Claremont UMC nativity. Inside the church, the Holy Family is reunited.

The theological statement posted with the nativity: In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death.

What if this family sought refuge in our country today?

Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center as more than 5,500 children have been the past three years.

Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.
He said: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35

In the Claremont United Methodist Church nativity scene this Christmas, the Holy Family takes the place of the thousands of nameless families separated at our borders.

Inside the church, you will see this same family reunited, the Holy Family together, in a nativity that joins the angels in singing “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to all.” Luke 2:14

#holyfamilyseparated #endfamilyseparation

The comments are filling up with MAGA rage. I am sorry for the souls of these people

I love the Nativity story. I love it not because it is warm and fuzzy, but because it is about perseverance against cruelty.

No one saves them. The child is born in squalor, hiding among animals. He rests in a manger — which is not a hay-stuffed crib but a feeding trough.

The monster of the Nativity story is not King Herod, the bloodthirsty tyrant. He is just the backdrop.

The villain is the innkeeper, a common everyday person, who sees their dire situation and chooses not to help.

No room. Sorry.

America is full of innkeepers these days.

The stable is not the pristine, rustic structure we see in displays. It is the equivalent of being born in an alley beside a dumpster.

Who shows them kindness? The shepherds. Other poor, dirty, desperate people. They have nothing, but help anyway, even though they’re afraid.

Then the wise men come from afar. Others call them “three kings.”

I always thought of them not as professors or prophets, but simply people who saw the situation with clear eyes, with wisdom, who had empathy, who wanted to help even though they were from elsewhere.

It’s a beautiful story, rendered more beautiful by Claremont United Methodist Church for making us see it clearly today.

Who will help? Who will turn away?

How do we open the eyes of the innkeepers, especially when seeing something like this only infuriates them?

/”
nativity  christianity  refugees  poverty  2019  us  politics  compassion  kindness  religion  anthonybreznican  donaltrump  migration  immigration  border  borders  borderpatrol  mercy  karenclarkristine 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ and his search for home | Aeon Essays
"Ways of living: John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ exploded a discipline. But his greatest legacy might be a quieter project of re-enchantment"
johnberger  waysofseeing  joshuasperling  2019  kennethclark  griseldapollock  learning  life  living  artcriticism  art  poltics  history  experience  rural  simoneweil  embeddedness  community  place  physicality  seasons  emforster  humanism 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
CHOMSKY & MUJICA by Saul Alvidrez — Kickstarter
"“CHOMSKY & MUJICA” is the movie of the most important intellectual of our times and the most beloved politician in the world, Noam Chomsky and Pepe Mujica; an unprecedented encounter full of wisdom.

This documentary, especially made for the younger generations, is a beautiful and urgent message to humanity. Explore love, life, freedom, power and the biggest challenges of the 21st century with two extraordinary characters that had never crossed paths before.

The historic encounter was filmed at the home of the former Uruguayan President José “Pepe” Mujica, in Montevideo, Uruguay. In there, Noam, Pepe, and their wives Valeria and Lucia, had a lovely family weekend to know each other, enjoy a delicious barbeque, share incredible life experiences and engage in very deep conversations that will never be forgotten.

SOBRE EL DOCUMENTAL:
“CHOMSKY & MUJICA” es la película del intelectual más importante de nuestros tiempos y el político más querido del mundo, Noam Chomsky y Pepe Mujica; un inédito encuentro lleno de sabiduría.

Este documental, especialmente dirigido a las generaciones más jóvenes, es un bello y urgente mensaje a la humanidad. Explora el amor, la vida, la libertad, el poder y los principales retos del siglo XXI junto con dos extraordinarios personajes que nunca antes habían cruzado sus caminos.

El histórico encuentro fue filmado en la casa del ex presidente uruguayo José “Pepe” Mujica, en Montevideo, Uruguay. Ahí, Noam, Pepe, y sus esposas Valeria y Lucía, tuvieron un encantador fin de semana para conocerse, disfrutar de una deliciosa parrillada, compartir experiencias increíbles y también entablar profundas conversaciones que jamás serán olvidadas."
noamchomsky  josémujica  documentary  film  2019  saúlalvídrezruiz 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
This Is How You Lose Your Mind
“Dani Fleischer recalls how a lifetime of perfectionism led her down a path of self-destruction.”



“Then this happens: I become the first 5th grader who can properly fill out a map of all 50 states, and something temporarily replaces that not-enoughness. I don’t even know what it is exactly, but the urge to steal away to a bathroom subsides for the week, and I spend the rest of the year chasing that feeling. State capitals, vocabulary words like doldrums and oxymoron, letters to Elie Wiesel: there’s so much to try to be the best at, and that pursuit carries me straight into summer. It turns out to be a good year for me. I adapt. I make friends, get straight A’s, and begin to feel comfortable in Jersey.

A few days before 6th grade starts, I find out that we’re moving back upstate again. The reasoning my parents give is muddled: the house upstate never sold, and Mom doesn’t like living so close to her mother. I begin to wonder about how the decisions shaping my life are being made.

I return upstate and bring with me the comfort of academic perfection. School becomes the perfect closed system, a way to quantify my worth, and for a long time that system serves me well. I’m good at it and it seems as good as anything else by which to define myself; it’s rigid and unforgiving, and it doesn’t account for my own humanity. The perfect vehicle for self-destruction: something that feels like control, but isn’t. A car speeding down an icy highway late at night.

I spend high school grinding away at perfection and show myself no mercy when I graduate second in my class. I still get to make a speech at graduation, which is nice. I quote Rilke and people congratulate me and I feel smart, even as I continue to eviscerate myself for not being first.

I get into a good college.”



“What I don’t know yet is that I’m just trading one idol for another — academics for pharmaceuticals — that what feels like freedom, finally, isn’t. That the trade won’t liberate me from anything, but will only trap me more.

And even if I knew any of it, I wouldn’t care. That’s the power of this new idol. What I do know is how good it feels to let myself fall. And so I do.”
danifleischer  schooling  schools  perfectionism  2019  mentalhealth  health  drugs  unschooling  deschooling 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
David Marcus on Twitter: "One could really tell almost the entire history of Midwestern capitalism— from enclosure and monopolization to farmer-labor mobilizations and mixed-economy social democracy to financialization and austerity—through the rise a
“One could really tell almost the entire history of Midwestern capitalism— from enclosure and monopolization to farmer-labor mobilizations and mixed-economy social democracy to financialization and austerity—through the rise and fall of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s public transit [image]

Founded in the 1890s by a real-estate baron seeking to develop his holdings, Twin City Rapid Transit built a massive network of 500 miles of trolley tracks that linked not only Minneapolis and St Paul but also many of the hamlets between the St Croix River and Lake Minnetonka. [image]

The fleet of trolleys included nearly 1000 streetcars as well as snow plows and “streetcar boats” and by early 20th century TCRT was a vast monopoly, making its own cars, laying its own tracks, purchasing rival companies, and becoming one of the city’s largest employers. [image]

As socialists gained influence in the Midwest (for a short time Minneapolis even had a socialist mayor), TCRT workers began organizing with IWW & Nonpartisan League. In 1917, they struck for the right to from a union. The city of St Paul and WWI home guard struck back—brutally [image]

In the years that followed, workers organized their own party—the Farmer-Labor Party—and after the Depression hit, they elected former IWW organizer Floyd Olson governor, Nonpartisan activist William Andersen Minneapolis mayor, and labor editor William Mahoney St. Paul mayor. [image]

With the state and city backing, TCTR workers voted to join the Amalgamated Transit Union and the transit system became a beacon of stability—employing thousands and servicing tens of thousands—in an era wracked by social and economic upheaval.

In the postwar years, as local and national politics moved from labor-centered strains of social democracy to a consumer ones, TCTR fell into the hands of a Wall Street banker who began to call in the company’s dividends, instead of redirecting profits to wages and infrastructure

With automobiles on the rise, and more and more pressure for profit maximization, TCRT sold off its 1000-strong trolley fleet and cemented over its track by the mid-1950s, helping amplify the Twin Cities’s racial and class divisions & eliminating one of the city’s major employers

This is the last active trolley line. It runs for a 1/3 of mile along Lake Harriet. [image]”
davidmarcus  minneapolis  minnesota  stpaul  publictransit  transportation  capitalism  labor  organizing  austerity  financialization  2019  history  socialism 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Dr. Steven W. Thrasher on Twitter: "I find it wildly confusing that 18-year-olds—who can vote, who can be sentenced to death if they commit certain crimes, who can be sent off to war to die—are legally tied to their parents in an infantilizing manner
"I find it wildly confusing that 18-year-olds—who can vote, who can be sentenced to death if they commit certain crimes, who can be sent off to war to die—are legally tied to their parents in an infantilizing manner to get health insurance or qualify for student aid. It’s—weird.

The family functions in neoliberal society as a site for the state to offset economic liabilities onto. An 18 yr old who can be conscripted as a soldier deserves Medicare. What neoliberalism grants is private insurance from parents (IF they have parents (if THEY have insurance))

An unfortunate turn in Gay Inc politics was a move from desiring healthcare for all (to free all from hetero/sexism), which was replaced by the “targeted” (@pocojump) goal of expanded health insurance thru same sex marriage. David Eng calls this a kind of trickle down economics.

Adrianne Rich wrote of “compulsory heterosexuality.” When Mayor Pete calls for access to higher ed to be determined for *legal adults* by their parents, I think this is a kind of compulsory heterosexism as well, and a kind of compulsory infantilization.

By demanding LGBTQ young adults specifically (& young adults in general) be bound to their parents’ earnings WHICH THEY DON’T CONTROL to receive public education past age 18, Mayor Pete is using the family as a locus of social control in the most cynical, conservative way.

To say young legal adults must go through their parents to access healthcare or education allows their parents to hold biopower over the lives of adults. Medicare for all or free college for all would grant much more freedom to 18 year olds. But when they must go to their folks->

as legal adults who are basically hostages for the means of life itself, their parents can wield homophobia over them. Demand their trans “adult children” not get hormones or gender affirming surgery. Deny birth control. Wield stigma.

It’s not good, and it makes no legal sense.

No wonder old Dems like the youngest candidate (Pete) & young Dems like the oldest (Bernie):

Pete is trying to reinforce the existing, conservative social order.

Bernie is offering something akin to queer liberation by way of liberated access to learning & health.”
medicareforall  healthcare  infantilization  policy  us  heteronormativity  sexuality  petebuttigieg  berniesanders  insurance  healthinsurance  marriage  neoliberalism  patriarchy  conservatism  democrats  election  2019  2020  queer  liberation  health  education  highered  highereducation  financialaid  control  parents 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Pirate Radio: a special series from The Verge - The Verge
"WHERE DOES YOUR MIND GO WHEN YOU HEAR THE PHRASE “PIRATE RADIO”?

Maybe you think of revolutionaries, deploying broadcasts to subvert an oppressive regime. Or maybe you imagine a raucous boat of rock stars, buoyed by the consequence-free promise of international waters. Maybe it evokes something far away, distant, from the past.

But once you remove the idea of pirate radio from its mythology, you realize that it exists largely for people who live in the margins. The Haitian Americans of Brooklyn. The Hmong people of the Midwest. The Pashtuns across Afghanistan. The space between the frequencies, it turns out, is vast. The stories and people explored in these pages present a complicated narrative of what illegal transmissions can do and who they reach. Because that’s always been the power of radio — its reach."
radio  pirateradio  classideas  glvo  2019  broadcasting  fm 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Pi-rate radio: how to make your own FM station for less than $35 - The Verge
"FM radio stations are basically just two things: a transmitter to create the signal, and an antenna to broadcast it, which means that building your own pirate radio station is actually really, really easy.

Those FM transmitters you used to use to get music from your iPod on to your car stereo? Full-fledged radio transmitters, just ones with severely limited outputs to avoid violating any FCC laws. If you’re handy with a soldering iron, those simple car transmitters can actually be hacked to get a much better range by adding a bigger antenna and removing internal resistors.


Alternatively, you can get everything you need to build a decent long-range system on Amazon for a couple hundred bucks (although you’ll want to check local FCC rules for when it actually comes to broadcasting things).

But the easiest (and cheapest) option is a Raspberry Pi. The same principles apply: use the tiny computer to create and broadcast the signal, and attach an antenna to give it the broadcast range.


1. Set up your Raspberry Pi

You’ll need to get Raspbian, the Linux-based operating system for the Raspberry Pi.

2. Install the FM radio software

Once your Pi is up and running, you’ll need software. Specifically, PiFM, created by Oliver Mattos and Oskar Weigl.

Alternatively, if you’d like something even simpler to use, Make Magazine’s Sam Freeman and Wynter Woods built a modified version of the PiFM code back in 2014, which you can find at the Make website. Simply flash that to a microSD card, add music, and just plug the Pi into a power source and it’ll automatically start broadcasting on your frequency of choice.

3. Choose some music

Get your tracks set and copy them over to the Raspberry Pi. If you’re using the base PiFM software, you’ll need 16-bit .wav files. Make Magazine’s code supports broader file support, though.

4. Add an antenna

Plug a strip of wire into the GPIO4 pin on your Raspberry Pi (the fourth pin down on the left side on most Pi hardware). You’ll want something at least eight inches long, although closer to 25 inches is recommended for better range. Depending on your setup and surrounding environment, the Pi can broadcast between about a foot to roughly 300 feet away.

5. Broadcast

Run the PiFM code. You’ll do that by running a command like “sudo ./pifm awesomejams.wav 100.0”, where that “100.0” is the frequency in MHz on which you’re broadcasting.

6. Tune your radio and enjoy

Get your FM radio of choice, tune to your broadcast station, and enjoy!"
classideas  radio  fm  raspberrypi  2019  chaimgartenberg  olivermattos  oskarweigl  samfreeman  wynterwoods  pifm  raspbian  broadcasting  pirateradio 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us - The New York Times
"And even if our algorithms become miraculously intelligent and unbiased, we won’t solve the problem of social media until we change the outdated metaphors we use to think about it.

Twitter and Facebook executives often say that their services are modeled on a “public square.” But the public square is more like 1970s network television, where one person at a time addresses the masses. On social media, the “square” is more like millions of karaoke boxes running in parallel, where groups of people are singing lyrics that none of the other boxes can hear. And many members of the “public” are actually artificial beings controlled by hidden individuals or organizations.

There isn’t a decent real-world analogue for social media, and that makes it difficult for users to understand where public information is coming from, and where their personal information is going.

It doesn’t have to be that way. As Erika Hall pointed out, we have centuries of experience designing real-life spaces where people gather safely. After the social media age is over, we’ll have the opportunity to rebuild our damaged public sphere by creating digital public places that imitate actual town halls, concert venues and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. These are places where people can socialize or debate with a large community, but they can do it anonymously. If they want to, they can just be faces in the crowd, not data streams loaded with personal information.

That’s because in real life, we have more control over who will come into our private lives, and who will learn intimate details about us. We seek out information, rather than having it jammed into our faces without context or consent. Slow, human-curated media would be a better reflection of how in-person communication works in a functioning democratic society.

But as we’ve already learned from social media, anonymous communication can degenerate quickly. What’s to stop future public spaces from becoming unregulated free-for-alls, with abuse and misinformation that are far worse than anything today?

Looking for ideas, I talked to Mikki Kendall, author of the book “Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists.” Ms. Kendall has thought a lot about how to deal with troublemakers in online communities. In 2014, she was one of several activists on Black Twitter who noticed suspiciously inflammatory tweets from people claiming to be black feminists. To help figure out who was real and who wasn’t, she and others started tweeting out the fake account names with the tag #yourslipisshowing, created by the activist Shafiqah Hudson. In essence, the curated arena of Black Twitter acted as a check on a public attack by anonymous trolls.

Ms. Kendall believes that a similar mechanism will help people figure out fakes in the future. She predicts that social media will be supplanted by immersive 3-D worlds where the opportunities for misinformation and con artistry will be immeasurable.

“We’re going to have really intricately fake people,” she said. But there will also be ways to get at the truth behind the airbrushing and cat-ear filters. It will hinge on that low-tech practice known as meeting face to face. “You’re going to see people saying, ‘I met so-and-so,’ and that becomes your street cred,” she explained.

People who aren’t willing to meet up in person, no matter how persuasive their online personas, simply won’t be trusted. She imagines a version of what happened with #yourslipisshowing, where people who share virtual spaces will alert one another to possible fakes. If avatars are claiming to be part of a group, but nobody in that group has met them, it would be an instant warning sign.

The legacy of social media will be a world thirsty for new kinds of public experiences. To rebuild the public sphere, we’ll need to use what we’ve learned from billion-dollar social experiments like Facebook, and marginalized communities like Black Twitter. We’ll have to carve out genuinely private spaces too, curated by people we know and trust. Perhaps the one part of Facebook we’ll want to hold on to in this future will be the indispensable phrase in its drop-down menu to describe relationships: “It’s complicated.”

Public life has been irrevocably changed by social media; now it’s time for something else. We need to stop handing off responsibility for maintaining public space to corporations and algorithms — and give it back to human beings. We may need to slow down, but we’ve created democracies out of chaos before. We can do it again."
annaleenewitz  2019  internet  web  online  future  publicspace  facebook  twitter  blacktwitter  algorithms  publicgood  socialmedia  socialnetworking  facetoface  f2f  truth  communication  abuse  information  misinformation  democracy  media  slow  dialogue  erikahall  mikkikendall  bias  safety  digital  community  communities  consent  context  curation  shafiqahhidson  anonymity  trolls  trolling  fakes  yourslipisshowing  publicsphere  relationships  publiclife  privacy  johnscalzi  technology  unintendedconsequences  siliconvalley  cmabridgeanalytica 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
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