Cory Doctorow #BLM Profile picture
Writer, activist. My tweets are your employer's views, not mine. Blog: https://t.co/ECPLW3AJGU. Newsletter: https://t.co/5Z1HXMY6Cp Books: https://t.co/x4ih0Xrx8f.
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13 Aug
I remember when we stopped calling police weapons "nonlethal" and switched to "less lethal" - I thought it was a victory for anti-authoritarian realism, ditching a polite euphemism for a more accurate phrase that reminded us that the cops kill and mail people with these arms.

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But after reading what @drfigtree says about the history of these weapons, I'm coming to think that "less lethal" is, itself, a euphemism. Feigenbaum is the author of 2017's "Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of World War I to the Streets of Today."

versobooks.com/books/2109-tea…

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Feigenbaum's comments appear in @scarschwartz's piece in The @guardian chronicling the sickening injuries experienced by #BLM and #Pipeline protesters who were targeted by police wielding these weapons.

theguardian.com/world/2020/aug…

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Read 14 tweets
13 Aug
Hey @replyall/@PJVogt! Apropos this week's ep, I have a harrowing tale.

Last year, our daughter (then 11) was at the barn near her school where she volunteers with the horses and gets lessons. It was getting close to dinner so I texted to see when she wanted to be picked up.
After a while I realized she hadn't answered so I tried to call her and got voicemail. I called the barn and the office was closed for the night. I called her friends and they'd all gone home too.
So we hit Find My Phone, and it said she was 13 miles away, on a street near a freeway entrance. My wife got in the car and started fighting traffic to get there while I called the sheriff - the phone was outside city limits - and frantically texted everyone.
Read 18 tweets
12 Aug
For the past couple weeks, I've been playing around with Sudowrite, @superamit and friends' GPT3-based text generator for fiction writers. You give it it characters, plot summaries, dialogue or twist endings.

sudowrite.com

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You can feed it part of a paragraph and it'll autocomplete it, and you can set a "vibe" for the autocomplete: Neutral, Extraordinary, Ominous and Funny.

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For example, some dialog autocomplete. Here's my prompt:

"The following is a conversation between Masha and Marcus, who are arguing about whether programmer have a moral duty to ensure their code does not contribute to human rights abuses.

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Read 12 tweets
12 Aug
When people ask me how I became an sf writer in the hopes of following in my footsteps, I've got bad news for them: I became an sf writer thanks to an utterly unique set of extremely beneficial circumstances that have never been replicated, and more's the pity.

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Let's start with Judith Merril, the eminent sf writer, critic and editor. After the Chicago police riots in 1968, Judy went into voluntarily exile in Toronto, taking her daughters and her books - the collection she'd amassed with her ex-husband Fred Pohl - with her.

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Judy was a political radical who was core to both Rochdale, the Rochdale Free College and Seed Alternative School - radical educational programs that had a seismic effect on Canadian culture.

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Read 25 tweets
12 Aug
Federal Rule 48a states that when a federal prosecutor moves to dismiss a case, the judge has to dismiss it. This rule is now hotly contested, because AG Bill Barr has directed that the charges against Michael Flynn be dropped.

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Judge Emmet Sullivan appointed a retired judge to investigate whether the rule applies here. That judge found "clear evidence of a gross abuse of prosecutorial power." The DoJ responded by announcing that gross abuses don't invalidate Rule 48a.

loweringthebar.net/2020/08/doj-sa…

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Which led to a hearing in which Trump's DoJ made a jaw-dropping statement: that Rule 48a would be enforceable even if the judge sees the defendant hand the prosecutor a cash bribe immediately beforehand.

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Read 5 tweets
12 Aug
After the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration and Elizabeth Warren created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, a watchdog charged with rooting out and punishing predatory financial practices.

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They understood that future administrations could neuter the Bureau, so they cooked up a future-proofing plan: the Bureau's head would be appointed for five years, and could not be fired by subsequent administrations.

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In her memoir, Warren recounts how she chose not to run the Bureau herself, which led to Obama appointing Richard Cordray to run it. That was a huge mistake.

Once Trump assumed office, Cordray RESIGNED FROM HIS POST to make an unsuccessful bid for governor of Ohio.

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Read 11 tweets
12 Aug
After decades of a grinding bipartisan war of attrition waged by Congress against the US Postal Service, the US mail is now under direct assault from Trump and his crony, the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy.

pluralistic.net/2020/08/11/nor…

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Destroying the post won't just take down America's linchpin for the elections, which must be held by postal vote lest they spark raging pandemic outbreaks - it also destroys the linchpin of the US's emergency plans for dealing with such outbreaks.

pluralistic.net/2020/03/25/nat…

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The assault on the postal service is brazen. On @NPR's @MorningEdition, @NoelKing spoke with Iowa Postal Workers Union president Kimberly Karol, who reported that the mail-sorting equipment at her post office has been removed.

npr.org/2020/08/11/901…

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Read 9 tweets
12 Aug
Christopher Brown is a mild-mannered, hard-fighting Austin environmental lawyer who writes taut, intense, post-cyberpunk novels about deep green resistance movements fighting guerilla wars against American fascism.

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His first book, 2017's Tropic of Kansas, tells the story of a semi-feral boy whose parents have been murdered by a hyperauthoritarian US government, as he is transformed into a guerilla hero.

boingboing.net/2017/07/11/tro…

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The second book, 2019's "Rule of Capture," is a paranoid, claustrophobic, gripping legal thriller about Donny Kimoe, an ex-prosecutor whose conscience demands he become the defense attorney for captured rebels who face being rendered to black sites.

boingboing.net/2019/08/12/fre…

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Read 11 tweets
11 Aug
Today's Twitter threads (a Twitter thread).

Inside: Terra Nullius; How they're killing the post office; When you hear "intangibles"...; Text-based, cyberpunk MMORPG; and more!

Archived at: pluralistic.net/2020/08/11/nor…

#Pluralistic

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Terra Nullius: Podcasting my column about "IP," John Locke, genocide and erasure.



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How they're killing the post office: The USPS has been under threat for decades, but now it's an existential crisis.



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Read 18 tweets
11 Aug
You've probably noticed that there's a lot of bad stuff going on with the US Postal Service, the most popular US government agency (91% favorable rating!). Trump has definitely been menacing them and talking a lot of nonsense about postal voting.

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USPS has been nearly bankrupt since the start of the crisis. Its emergency is wholly artificial, the creation of a bipartisan coalition of asshole lawmakers who insisted that the Post Office fully fund its next 75 years' worth pension obligations.

pluralistic.net/2020/04/13/con…

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We don't just need the USPS to run the postal voting that will be the only safe way to hold this November's election: the postal service is also the cornerstone of all of America's emergency recovery programs.

pluralistic.net/2020/03/25/nat…

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Read 12 tweets
11 Aug
For my podcast this week, I read my Mar 2019 @locusmag column, "Terra Nullius," about the way that Locke's property theory ("I found this stuff nobody was using, added my labor, now it's mine") is an act of erasure and sometimes a prelude to genocide.

locusmag.com/2019/03/cory-d…

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The germ of the column came from the bizarre tale of the @AlohaPokeCo, a company started by non-Pacific Islanders in Chicago that then threatened Hawaiians who operated poke restaurants whose name included the word "poke."

washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2…

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These guys are perfect Lockean grifters, because their claim implies that "aloha" was an unimproved natural resource that they mixed with their branding endeavor and converted to property.

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Read 20 tweets
10 Aug
If you only follow one person on Uber, make it Hubert Horan, a transport analyst who's been writing about the sector for 40+ years and has written 23 articles analyzing Uber's financials and the impossibility of the firm ever attaining profitability.

nakedcapitalism.com/2020/08/hubert…

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Uber has never, ever been profitable, and it never has been. When the company IPOed and its investors dumped their stock on suckers, its prospectus - the S1 - revealed that the company's path to profitability:

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Replacing every public transportation journey in the world with an Uber ride.

axios.com/uber-ipo-mass-…

Short of that, the company is and always will be a money-loser.

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Read 14 tweets
10 Aug
Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power is @ddayen's new book about the concentration of industry in America and around the world; one interesting implication of monopolies is that they are intensely individual phenomena.

thenewpress.com/books/monopoli…

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That is, despite being driven by vast social forces, monopolies have monopolists: named, well-known individuals whose personal choices directly lead to misery, hardship and death for millions.

People like Warren Buffett, America's folksiest monopolist.

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Buffett isn't shy about this. His whole deal is backing companies with "moats" - that is to say, companies that don't have to worry about competition (cue Peter Thiel, saying the quiet part aloud: "Competition is for losers").

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Read 25 tweets
9 Aug
On the one hand, high-stakes testing is pedagogically bankrupt, but on the other hand, it sure produces numbers that universities can focus on increasing, and then trumpet when those numbers are higher than they used to be. I guess that's important?

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The problems with high-stakes testing were magnified by lockdown, with universities demanding that students infect their computers - often shared with family members - with spyware that claimed to perform "invigilation" (anti-cheating surveillance).

pluralistic.net/2020/04/15/inv…

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Having decided that invigilation software was easier than finding a way to evaluate students without useless high-stakes tests, universites began a campaign of cruel bullying to crush student opposition.

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Read 18 tweets
9 Aug
Commercial real estate is in BIIG trouble. Malls - already under threat before the plague - will be full of empty storefronts. Offices, oy. They'll lose tenants when their businesses collapse. Surviving tenants will take advantage of higher vacancies to negotiate lower rates.

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Those tenants won't need as much space anyway: between layoffs and mass, permanent work-from-home (which will let employers seek the cheapest labor, anywhere in the world), demand is gonna fall OFF A CLIFF.

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That's really really bad news, because commercial real-estate is super leveraged thanks to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), the favored vehicle of overseas money-launderers seeking to clean their corrupt gains, as @czedwards explained last year.

threadreaderapp.com/thread/1213597…

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Read 8 tweets
8 Aug
Last year, the information security world was baffled and frustrated by the tale of Justin Wynn and @Ainchant, penetration testers who were hired to break into a Des Moines courthouse by its managers, then arrested for fulfilling their contract.

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Penetration testers evaluate the security of physical and digital systems by breaking into them, with permission from their owners, as a way of identifying and shoring up weaknesses. Wynn and DeMercurio work for @CoalfireSys, a leading pen-tester company.

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The state of Iowa hired Coalfire to break into its Dallas County courthouse. Wynn and DeMercurio picked the locks, entered the building, and, as instructed, they left the alarm armed, and set out to see how much data they could get before it brought a response.

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Read 19 tweets
8 Aug
We think of laws as being the texts of bills that pass out of Congress and get signed by the president. But the law is really defined by the judicial interpretation of those bills - the transcripts and outcomes of court cases.

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These are in the public domain (like all US government works) but they cost $0.10/page to access, through a Clinton-era system called PACER that is literally just a drive full of PDFs that isn't even searchable.

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The system is supposed to run on a break-even basis, but it pulls in more than $150m/year (again, for a drive full of PDFs). PACER remains the world's largest paywall, though activists have worked hard to chip away at it.

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Read 12 tweets
8 Aug
Google is facing anti-monopoly enforcement action in the EU and the USA and the UK, with more to come, and the company is starting to get nervous.

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It's just issued guidance to employees advising them against using words in their internal comms that would be smoking guns in these investigations: "market," "barriers to entry," and "network effects" among them.

themarkup.org/google-the-gia…

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The memo detailing the new linguistic rules leaked to @themarkup, with the anodyne title "Five Rules of Thumb for Written Communications.”

documentcloud.org/documents/7016…

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Read 10 tweets
8 Aug
Peter Thiel styles himself a defender of liberty, and every time he does, someone points out this article he wrote in which he said that democracy is incompatible with freedom (and also women shouldn't be allowed to vote).

cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/pet…

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He's right: the capitalist freedom - to have dominion over how your capital is worked by laborers - is in tension with democracy. @profwolff's "Why capitalism is in constant conflict with democracy" lays it out with admirable clarity.

alternet.org/2020/08/why-ca…

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The owner of a business is the dictator of the business. They have the final say over who is hired and fired, and what workers must do on the job.

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Read 20 tweets
7 Aug
For years, the pharma giant Novartis ran a "speaker program" that laundered vast payments to doctors - speaking fees, trips, top-shelf booze, strip club nights and fancy meals - in exchange for overprescription of its products.

corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/james…

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This was common knowledge, but it wasn't until the Novartis sales rep Oswald Bilotta blew the whistle in 2009 that the company faced legal jeopardy. Now the company has settled with the SDNY for $678m (Bilotta could get as much as $75m of that).

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Novartis's bribery was unbelievably blatant and tawdry: picking up the catering bill for a doc's son's Bar Mitzvah? Really? You're not even pretending it's anything but a bribe at that point.

nbcnews.com/business/econo…

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Read 11 tweets
7 Aug
Bloomberg's #MiseryIndex tracks unemployment and inflation and ranks 60 countries year on year. America just tumbled 25 spots, from the 50th least-miserable nation to the 25th, slipping below Mexico and Russia.

bloombergquint.com/global-economi…

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Writing in the @NewYorker, @mashagessen describes what happens when a "great power" collapses: "Why America Feels Like a Post-Soviet State."

newyorker.com/news/our-colum…

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It's the nagging sense that any statistics are distorted to make the people at the top feel good about their performance, and to give their quackspeaking useful idiots something to shout when anyone criticizes the system.

(think of Trump's covid "statistics")

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Read 6 tweets