Part of my chronic pain management is a daily swim. Part of my daily swim boredom management is an underwater MP3 player, which I load with audiobooks.

Currently I'm listening to @amyklobuchar's book ANTITRUST, which is very good (review to follow).

Klobuchar mentions a book I was familiar with, but never read: Ida Tarbell's HISTORY OF STANDARD OIL, a book that shifted political winds to make it possible to break up John D Rockefeller's robber-baronry.…

Tarball was a muckraking journalist's muckraking journalist, and her book is one of those titles that alters the course of history, along with other books by political women: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Silent Spring, The Shock Doctrine, A Paradise Built in Hell.

On today's swim, I made a mental note to check for an audio edition of Tarbell's book and lo and behold, the @internetarchive is hosting a free @librivox edition, read by Tom Weiss:……

Weiss is an incredibly prolific Librivox volunteer: his other readings include Wollheim's Secret of the Ninth Planet, Jack London's Before Adam, Douglas Fairbanks Sr's Laugh and Love, Tom Swift in Captivity...…

Joseph Conrad's Almayer's Folly and Outcast of the Islands, Maugham's On Human Bondage, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Prisoner of Morro, Burroughs's Chessmen of Mars, and many, many more.

All of these readings of public domain books are licensed @creativecommons 0, meaning they can be shared, remixed and sold, and you don't even have to credit Librivox or Weiss (though I think you really should!).

I'm really looking forward to listening to this book, and I thought I'd bump it up here in case you were looking for some reading. If you'd prefer the text to the audio, here's @gutenberg_org's edition:


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More from @doctorow

5 May
A recurring viral genre during the lockdown is photos of signs on the front doors of low-waged establishments (especially fast food restaurants) asking customers to have patience with long wait-times brought on by staffing shortages "because no one wants to work."

1/ The cover of McJob zine #2,...
These signs go on to claim that "overgenerous" unemployment benefits in the Biden stimulus have encouraged work-shyness among the lazy slobs of the working class. It's a complaint that's been picked up and amplified by the @USChamber.…

They're not entirely wrong.

After all, the subtext of these signs is, "Our pay is so low, and our working conditions are so awful, that only the truly desperate would do this job. In forestalling that desperation, the federal government has deprived us of our workforce."

Read 12 tweets
4 May
Today's Twitter threads (a Twitter thread).

Inside: Whales decry the casino economy; Qualia; and more!

Archived at:…


1/ Image
This coming Friday (May 7), the @GburgBookFest is featuring me in an interview conducted by John @scalzi; we pre-recorded the event but I'll be in the live chat for the premiere.

Whales decry the casino economy: It's the high rollers you gotta watch out for.

3/ Image
Read 21 tweets
4 May
My latest @locusmag column is "Qualia," and it argues that every attempt to make an empirical, quantitative cost-benefit analysis involves making subjective qualitative judgments about what to do with all the nonquantifiable elements of the problem.…

1/ A powdery residue on a lab-...
Think of contact tracing. When an epidemiologist does contact tracing, they establish personal trust with infected people and use that relationship to unpick the web of social and microbial ties that bind them to their community.

But we don't know how to automate that person-to-person process, so we do what quants have done since time immemorial: we decide that the qualitative elements of the exercise can be safely incinerated, so we can do math on the quantitative residue that's left behind.

Read 36 tweets
4 May
RoboCop (1987) dir. Paul Verhoeven…
RoboCop (1987) dir. Paul Verhoeven…
RoboCop (1987) dir. Paul Verhoeven…
Read 9 tweets
4 May
Remember Hometown Deli? It's the squat cinderblock New Jersey sandwich shop that is publicly traded and raised $2.5m on a $100m valuation, based on $35k in annual revenue. It was the source of much puzzlement and mirth last month.…

1/ The facade of Hometown Deli with 'Hometown' replaced with th
Since then, there's been a lot of financial sleuthing to figure out what this "company" is - the smart money is that it's a prepackaged financial vehicle to allow an otherwise unmarketable offshore company to go public, by doing a reverse-acquisition.…

A reason for all this attention is that Hometown is a perfect emblem of the casino economy, in which the financial sector makes vast fortunes without producing anything of value, simply by making bets, including bets on other bets (which are sometimes also bets on bets).

Read 21 tweets

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