Today's Twitter threads (a Twitter thread).

Inside: Ferris wheel offices; UK to tax Amazon's victims; Amazon returns end up in landfills; and more!

Archived at:…


Tonight's Attack Surface Lecture: ​​SciFi Genre with Sarah Gailey and Chuck Wendig…

Full schedule:…

Ferris wheel offices: Well-ventilated, unbeatable views, sub-par toilets.

UK to tax Amazon's victims: Only Amazon competitors will have to pay the UK's Amazon tax.

Amazon returns end up in landfills: The CBC's hidden camera investigation.

#10yrsago Rudy Rucker remembers Benoit Mandelbrot…

#5yrsago UK MPs learn that GCHQ can spy on them, too, so now we may get a debate on surveillance…

#5yrsago Tweens are smarter than you think: the wonderful, true story of the ERMAHGERD meme…

#5yrsago Eric Holder: I didn’t prosecute bankers for reasons unrelated to my $3M/year law firm salary…

#1yrago Britain’s unbelievably stupid, dangerous porn “age verification” scheme is totally dead…

#1yrago Want a ride in a Lyft? Just sign away your right to sue if they kill, maim, rape or cheat you…

#1yrago In Kansas’s poor, sick places, hospitals and debt collectors send the ailing to debtor’s prison…

#1yrago A San Diego Republican operator ran a massive, multimillion-dollar Facebook scam that targeted boomers…

#1yrago “The People’s Money”: A crisp, simple, thorough explanation of how government spending is paid for…

Yesterday's threads: Dystopia as clickbait; Trail of Mars; Bride of Frankenstein and the Monster; The Passenger Pigeon Manifesto; Bricked Ferrari; The Dennis Ball Show; and more!

I have a (free) new book out! "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism" is an anti-monopolist critique of Big Tech that connects the rise of conspiratorial thinking to the rise of tech monopolies and proposes a way to deal with both:…

My ebooks and audiobooks (from @torbooks, @HoZ_Books, @mcsweeneys, and others) are for sale all over the net, but I sell 'em too, and when you buy 'em from me, I earn twice as much and you get books with no DRM and no license "agreements."

Upcoming talks:

* Milehicon (Guest of Honor!), Oct 23-5,

* Coding Democracy/Toronto International Festival of Authors, Oct 24…

Recent appearances:

* Judge John Hodgman: "The Doctorow Doctrine"…

* Savage Lovecast

* Trashfuture: Stolen Likes Acknowledgment…

My first picture book just came out! It's called Poesy the Monster Slayer and it's an epic tale of bedtime-refusal, toy-hacking and monster-hunting, illustrated by Matt Rockefeller. It's the monster book I dreamt of reading to my own daughter.…

You can also follow these posts as a daily blog at no ads, trackers, or data-collection!

Here's today's edition:…

If you prefer a newsletter, subscribe to the plura-list, which is also ad- and tracker-free, and is utterly unadorned save a single daily emoji. Today's is "🚨". Suggestions solicited for future emojis!

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Are you trying to wean yourself off Big Tech? Follow these threads on the #fediverse at

Here's today's edition:…

Today's top sources: Brian Milnes, Slashdot (, Fipi Lele.


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More from @doctorow

18 Oct
Standardization is an amazing and terrible thing. Standards are easy to appreciate when they benefit you, and when standards aren't present, things get pretty awful, both immediately and enduringly.

1/ Image
Think of Australia's "mixed gauge muddle" - a continent-wide standardization fail in which rail gauges abruptly shift, meaning that cargo and passengers have to be transferred from one car/engine to another.…

A century and a half on, the muddle still isn't resolved (though there's finally real progress in the form of tearing up and replacing thousands of kilometers of rail) (yowch).

Read 8 tweets
17 Oct
Today's Twitter threads (a Twitter thread).

Inside: Beastie Boy mashups; Educator sued for criticising "invigilation" tool; and more!

Archived at:…


1/ Image
Monday's Attack Surface Lecture: Cyberpunk and Post-Cyberpunk with Bruce Sterling and Christopher Brown…

Full schedule:…

2/ Image
Beastie Boy mashups: Beastles, Beachtie Boys, Ghostbeasties.

Read 19 tweets
17 Oct
High-stakes tests are garbage, pedagogically bankrupt assessment tools that act as a form of empirical facewash for "meritocracy."

1/ Image
They primarily serve as a way for wealthy parents to buy good grades for their kids, since expensive test-prep services can turn even the dimmest, inbred plute into a genius-on-paper.

All of this was true before the pandemic. Now it's worse. Most of us meet the plague and ask, "How can I help my neighbor?" But for sociopaths, the question is, how can I turn a buck in a way that only stomps on the faces of poor people who don't get to hit back?

Read 19 tweets
17 Oct
On Thursday, I posted a fond recollection of @realdjbc's groundbreaking Beastie Boys/Beatles mashups, "The Beastles," which are in the canon of Beatles mashups along with The Grey Album.…

But there's another canon they belong to: the canon of Beastie Boys mashups, which goes beyond classics like BC's own "Intergalactic Robots" (Kraftwerk vs Beasties):…

It's a canon that's still growing in 2020! There's straight up novelty tracks like Kevin Miller's Beachstie Boys (multitrack plumbing of the odd coincidence of rhyme structure between "I Get Around" and "Fight For Your Right to Party"):

Read 5 tweets
16 Oct
The @cbc hid GPSes and wireless cameras in Amazon returns to see what happened when Canadians sent their Amazon purchases back for refunds. Amazon claims it processes these returns responsibly, either restocking them or selling them to third-party jobbers.

That matters: 30-40% of online purchases are returned (it's <10% for physical retail).

But those returns largely end up being destroyed. In just ONE facility, between one and five TRUCKLOADS of Amazon returns are shredded, mostly for landfill.…

Two thirds of the items that CBC bugged were destroyed.

The returns that DID make it back into peoples' hands travel hundreds, even thousands of kilometers before that happened.

Read 4 tweets
16 Oct
Imposing penalties on cheating monopolists is hard and must be done with care, lest the companies turn new rules into a competitive advantage - rules they can afford to follow, but which their smaller customers cannot.

For many years, Big Tech maintained the fiction that their digital sales were consummated somewhere in Irish-adjacent high seas or possibly in a basement in Lichtenstein and thus sales-tax exempt. This let Amazon sell books for 20% less than its non-cheating UK competitors.

To fix this, the EU created a rule requiring digital retailers to collect two non-contradictory pieces of personally identifying info on each purchaser (including non-EU customers) to determine where they were for tax purposes.

Read 14 tweets

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