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Guess i'd better keep up with updates after all

I'm so terrified of Windows 10's Creators Update that i've taken some extraordinary steps to block it. I know that's a bad idea because it means that i'm also blocking any security patches that Microsoft releases, but it seemed like it was worth the risk at least until Microsoft gets its act together.

But reading about the history behind the WannaCry virus, which was in part possible due to people not keeping up with their patches, is making me rethink that.

(There's a lot more to the story than that, though, and we can blame the NSA for part of it.)

Update: Ten minutes after posting this, Min got the new Android update - which destroys its UI - and i am scrambling to block it on my phone.


By fnord12 | May 18, 2017, 1:18 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life | Link




God forbid we let new people into the party

Politico has solicited a number of ankle biters to grouse about Sanders possibly running for president in 2020:

Former DNC chair Donna Brazile warned party leaders against relying on Sanders, unless they're willing to give in on opening the party to more independents like he wants.

By fnord12 | May 16, 2017, 1:07 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Security Question Fail

I have enough trouble remembering this shit.  I don't need trick questions.

By fnord12 | May 15, 2017, 10:40 AM | My stupid life | Link




He was almost president

I know we are busy watching the latest in Trump drama but Bernie has just introduced a pair of bills that would make it possible for workers to take ownership of a workplace if the owners offshored their business.


By fnord12 | May 12, 2017, 11:49 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Light 'Em Up

I had totally planned on smoking pot when my mind started to go from age because at that point, who cares? Plus, i loved Michael Caine's elderly hippie pothead character in Children of Men. But this is fantastic news.

Researchers led by Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn in Germany gave low doses of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana's main active ingredient, to young, mature and aged mice. As expected, young mice treated with THC performed slightly worse on behavioral tests of memory and learning. For example, after THC young mice took longer to learn where a safe platform was hidden in a water maze, and they had a harder time recognizing another mouse to which they had previously been exposed. Without the drug, mature and aged mice performed worse on the tests than young ones did. But after receiving THC the elderly animals' performances improved to the point that they resembled those of young, untreated mice. "The effects were very robust, very profound," Zimmer says.

I might actually start remembering characters' names in movies again!

Other experts praised the study but cautioned against extrapolating the findings to humans. "This well-designed set of experiments shows that chronic THC pretreatment appears to restore a significant level of diminished cognitive performance in older mice, while corroborating the opposite effect among young mice," Susan Weiss, director of the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse who was not involved in the study, wrote in an e-mail. Nevertheless, she added, "While it would be tempting to presume the relevance of these findings [extends] to aging humans...further research will be critically needed."

Pshaw...i've got all the info i need. By the time i start, my brain will already be going, so there's nothing to lose. Either it makes my brain better or i won't know to care.


By min | May 10, 2017, 1:32 PM | Science | Link




Thomas Friedman lectures you about the Hell he deserves

This is from a guy who can barely string a sentence together and has been writing the same article and books over and over again for decades.

The notion that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge for the next 30 is over. If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner.

And that means: More is now on you. And that means self-motivation to learn and keep learning becomes the most important life skill.


By fnord12 | May 10, 2017, 11:47 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




It's funny because it's sad

But true.


By fnord12 | May 10, 2017, 10:41 AM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Link




Low turnout among black voters

One of the most important post-mortems that i linked to after the election was this one, which showed that a decline in the participation of black voters was a big part of Hillary's loss. It's a factor that has been mostly ignored because it doesn't fit the bullshit narrative that Bernie's solution is to "ditch identity politics" and focus on the "white" working class. The truth is that the decline of good paying union factory jobs has affected everybody, not just white people.

An analysis in the Washington Post has more data on the decline in the black vote:

Voter turnout among whites -- the racial/ethnic group most strongly in Trump's corner -- increased by 2.4 percentage points in 2016 compared to 2012. In stark contrast, turnout among African Americans -- the group most loyal to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party -- fell by 4.7 percentage points nationally.

...These national averages obscure important patterns. Here's what stands out: while the decline in black turnout was stark across the board, it was sharpest, on average, in the states that determined the outcome of the election.

...in Michigan and Wisconsin -- two key Midwestern states where, to analysts' surprise, Trump won -- black turnout fell by more than 12 points.

Hillary Clinton had nothing to offer people whose jobs were lost to NAFTA and other such factors, especially after eight years where Obama failed to do anything for them. You can go back to the previous post (linking again) to see some quotes from people saying exactly that. Sanders has a solution, but the Democratic party is still resisting it. I'm hoping that the Washington Post analysis will raise the topic again.


By fnord12 | May 10, 2017, 8:10 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Happy Friday

There are diseases hidden in the ice, and they are waking up.


By fnord12 | May 5, 2017, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Link




Minor characters in Star Wars

Min's main complaint about Rogue One is that a lot of the characters didn't get developed, so i thought this from Tegan O'Neil was interesting (i'm quoting liberally from a much longer piece about various sub-topics, but click and read it all).

The toys weren't secondary to Star Wars, the toys weren't a spin-off - the toys may even be Star Wars at its most primal. The movies? They last a couple hours. But the toys carry a promise of something more. ...to really understand what I'm saying you need to find someone like Hammerhead. Hold him in your hand for a moment. Here's a character who appears onscreen in the original Star Wars for literally a second, says nothing, does nothing, just sits there and looks interesting for less time than it takes for the viewer to register what they're seeing. And yet he rates a 3 3/4" toy, a tiny plastic icon representing a character without even a name.

Now, of course, you can easily learn that Hammerhead's real name is Momaw Nadon, and he is a native of the planet Ithor. But that doesn't matter. Kids in 1978 didn't know that, they just knew that he was one of the coolest looking aliens in the film. Because he didn't do anything onscreen, that meant his story was yet to be told. But you could tell that story, you could tell any story you wanted, because that was Star Wars. You always want the camera to linger on details for a little longer than it does, but it's always gone, moving on to the next bit of the plot - everything else on the margins is left for you to figure out on your own.

After the Expanded Universe officially began in the early 90s, every secondary, tertiary, and quaternary character in the series got a backstory... Maybe it's still canon, maybe it isn't. It doesn't matter. What matters is that thousands of kids in 1978 bought that toy and built entire mythologies just around that one guy, and they were all a thousand times more engaging and interesting than anything a professional writer could ever come up with, because that's how being a kid works.

Rogue One gets that. Star Wars is a place where not only can any passing character in a movie have an interesting backstory, but you know they do. Maybe it hasn't been written yet. Maybe he'll get his own spin-off novel. Doesn't matter. Characters in Star Wars are always introduced as if they have just concluded the greatest adventure of their lives, and are just chilling in the downtime while waiting for their next adventure to start. You don't know what Han Solo was doing in Mos Eisley before being approached by Obi-Wan, but you're sure it was interesting...

A good Star Wars story, then, is one that expands on everything you've seen before while always implying the existence of even more awesome stuff just around the corner. Of course the spies and guerillas who stole the Death Star plans have their own backstory. The first time you see Baze and Chirrut onscreen, you want to know everything about those guys. Gay warrior monks in space? Sign me up. Of course, you learn nothing about them in the movie itself. Everything you need to know about them is right there on the screen. One day someone will write stories about Baze and Chirrut - hell, someone is probably doing so right now. And if they're any good - that is, if they're Proper Star Wars - it will only leave you wanting more.

I doubt this will appease Min. Baze and Chirrut occupy a space that is larger than Hammerhead if smaller than Han Solo, so i'm not sure if the "they're not supposed to be developed" explanation holds. But i was surprised to see someone addressing Min's complaint at all.




min: Ok, mebbe it's that i'm getting old and can't pay attention long enough to remember shit, but Baze and Chirrut were so not developed, i don't even know who the fuck Baze and Chirrut are! I don't know who any of the actual main Rogue One characters are. Zero recollection of their names. I just know "chick who was in Northanger Abbey", Donnie Yen, "Donnie Yen's friend", "pilot guy", and "Rebellion guy".

Evidence for the "i'm old" explanation - i couldn't for the life of me remember Kylo Ren's name from Force Awakens. I just started referring to him as "Ra's al Ghul" when talking to people because my brain couldn't be bothered to create a new subfolder for this character.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2017, 12:52 PM | Star Wars | Link




It's not a tactical error

Jeff Spross has a good article up on why the Democrats should stop attacking Trump on the deficit. Where i disagree with Spross is that he frames it as the Dems attacking Trump, and Republicans generally, on the hypocrisy of complaining about the deficit and then increasing it when they are in office. But i think we are way past giving the Dems the benefit of the doubt on that at this point. It may have started as a way to point out the irony or (moreso) outflank the Republicans on the right to neutralize it as a campaign issue. But they've been doing it for so long it's now just a part of their philosophy. Bill Clinton dismantled welfare and balanced the budget. The Dems re-instituted PayGo when they took back Congress in 2006. Obama tried to cut social security and balance the budget as part of the Catfood Commission Grand Bargain. And now they're attacking Trump for (as Spross points out) exactly the wrong reasons. At some point we have to accept that the party of Wall Street is doing this because it's what they believe, not because of short-sighted tactics.


By fnord12 | April 28, 2017, 10:34 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Unusual request at the craft store


By fnord12 | April 28, 2017, 7:28 AM | My stupid life | Link




Handizapping

WARNING: This is a dumber-than-usual post.

While writing up my last post i realized we need a word for when you deliberately handicap yourself in a video game. Playing the original Zelda without picking up the sword. Playing the original Final Fantasy with just one character in your party. Playing an FPS all the way through with just a hand gun. Playing Civ while just being one city or without researching certain techs. I'm tentatively going with handizapping: handicapping + an old school video game noise. But that's not very good.


By fnord12 | April 27, 2017, 2:18 PM | Master of Style & Video Games | Link




Always comes down to Civ

I've read a bunch of takes on this new book by Jonathan Taplin about the monopoly power of Amazon, Facebook, and Google, but i really like DDay's, i guess because in addition to summarizing the points of Taplin's book he also takes issue with some of them (i.e. when Taplin sides with copyright holders in the battle against SOPA).

Personally i think all of this is a result of the fact that we're living in a game of Civilization where the player for some bizarre reason has decided to skip "Socialism" on the tech tree. By the time you have "Internet" you should definitely have "Socialism". Because a lot of these questions come down to "How do you make money on the internet?" (or, more and more, when the internet exists) and the answer really is "You shouldn't have to".


By fnord12 | April 27, 2017, 2:08 PM | Liberal Outrage & Video Games | Link




Point-Counterpoint-Bomb

Katrina vanden Heuvel implies that for all of Bernie Sanders' positive points, he's not so great on foreign policy, and says that the left needs someone to be a leader on that front. I agree with Heuvel. I did think that Bernie improved on foreign policy during the primary by going back to his 1980s roots when he really was good/outspoken on foreign policy, but unfortunately he's mostly gone silent on that front again and even (vaguely) endorsed regime change in Syria.

Not directly addressing Heuvel, Yves Smith makes the counterpoint, saying that the best way to challenge the US foreign policy consensus is to kind of sneak into office by running on more popular domestic issues (that's my uncharitable interpretation of the piece but Smith actually makes a fairly convincing case so read it for yourself).

On the other end of the spectrum, Bruce A. Dixon dismisses Bernie as a "pro-war Democrat" and basically is not looking to any portion of the Dems, even the Bernie faction, for leadership (Dixon's piece is not directly relevant; it's about Cornel West's call for Bernie to lead a new People's Party, which i disagree with on tactical grounds, not because of Dixon's objection to Bernie).

I mostly agree with Heuvel on this. I take Smith's point: if Bernie had won it would have meant a huge improvement for our foreign policy despite (taking Dixon's point) that he isn't as strong on those issues as we'd like him to be. But just seeing the way Bernie changed the conversation on economic issues, it's clear that it would be very valuable for someone to do the same on foreign policy. And just from the little that we did see from Bernie, and even from some of the (confused, contradictory) things that Trump campaigned on (and immediately backtracked on after the election), there does seem to be a "market" for it.


By fnord12 | April 27, 2017, 9:21 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




More data

This isn't "surprising", but here's more data showing the rise of income inequality coinciding with the turn to neoliberal economics in the late 70s (and continuing to accelerate).

Also "not surprising" (although it apparently was to the writers) is that sweatshops don't actually lift people in poor countries out of poverty.


By fnord12 | April 27, 2017, 9:14 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




"Slowly" being a key point

On Twitter, David Klion notes the increased support among Democratic politicians and says that both Bernie & Hillary partisans should acknowledge that Bernie is slowly but surely winning. As a supporter of Bernie and (more to the point) his policies, i'd like to take heart in that. But the problem is that $15/hour is insufficient to start with and will be even more out of date after it "slowly" garners enough support to pass (at least four years from now until after Trump is gone) and then is slowly phased in (the phase-in is necessary to not bankrupt small businesses overnight). If we were keeping up with general gains in productivity, the minimum wage would be over $20 already. Some 6+ years from now, bringing the minimum wage to $15 will of course be better than what it is currently, but it won't be doing a thing to address income inequality.


By fnord12 | April 26, 2017, 9:57 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




We Are Just Hosts

It's the bacteria in our stomach and intestines that are really in charge.

There's no question that nutrients and the microbiome, the community of bacteria that resides in the gut, impact health. For instance, diseases like obesity have been associated with the composition of the diet and the microbiome.

However, the notion that microbes might also be able to control behavior seems a big conceptual leap. Yet that's what the new study shows.

Experiments conducted using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a model organism allowed the scientists to dissect the complex interaction of diet and microbes and its effect on food preference. The scientists initially showed that flies deprived of amino acids showed decreased fertility and increased preference for protein-rich food. Indeed, the team found that the removal of any single essential amino acid was sufficient to increase the flies' appetite for protein-rich food.

Furthermore, the scientists tested the impact on food choices of five different species of bacteria that are naturally present in the guts of fruit flies in the wild. The results exceeded the scientists' expectations: two specific bacterial species could abolish the increased appetite for protein in flies that were fed food lacking essential amino acids.

...

How could the bacteria act on the brain to alter appetite? "Our first hypothesis was that these bacteria might be providing the flies with the missing essential amino acids," Santos explains. However, the experiments did not support this hypothesis.

Instead, the gut bacteria "seem to induce some metabolic change that acts directly on the brain and the body, which mimics a state of protein satiety," Santos says.

In sum, this study shows not only that gut bacteria act on the brain to alter what animals want to eat, but also that they might do so by using a new, unknown mechanism.

I think the bacteria tells your body you're fine so you can start reproducing, enabling the bacteria to jump ship to a new and better host that isn't missing necessary enzymes. Little shits.


By min | April 26, 2017, 9:21 AM | Science | Link




GORF!

When i read this comic i have a compelling geek-urge to pointlessly shout "GORF!".


By fnord12 | April 26, 2017, 9:13 AM | Comics & Video Games | Link




The road to hell is paved with means-testing

A recent study has shown that wealthy people are getting a disproportionate amount of Social Security, since they live longer. This has given fuel to people who want to restrict Social Security payments to the rich. Ryan Cooper calls bullshit.


By fnord12 | April 25, 2017, 9:40 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Hit job

Again, who becomes mayor of Omaha is pretty low on my list of things to worry about, but it seems increasingly clear that Heath Mello was a scapegoat for a proxy attack on Bernie.


By fnord12 | April 25, 2017, 9:26 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Break up or nationalize?

I don't agree with everything here (e.g. the concern about "fake news") but this is an interesting article in NYT on how we should be dealing with the monopolies of Google, Amazon, etc..


By fnord12 | April 25, 2017, 9:02 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Post-Reconstruction part 2

The Jacobin has an article refuting a claim from one of Vox's more libertarian writers and i'm not too interested in that specifically. But i thought this was an interesting interpretation of recent history:

Then there was the period from 1940 to 1970, which witnessed the greatest progress in closing the racial wealth and earnings gaps since Reconstruction, thanks to the strength of the New Deal coalition and the labor movement, which integrated the federal government's military-industrial supply chain (as well as the military itself, following the war), and the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully pressed the federal government to intervene in the South on behalf of equal rights. That advance was eventually turned back the same way it was during Reconstruction: through an alliance of white supremacy and implicitly racialized "free market" ideology, the latter of which came to dominate both major political parties.

By fnord12 | April 25, 2017, 8:54 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Amazon's arbitrary pricing

I've written before about Amazon, but this article is a really good illustration of what the dangers of Amazon becoming a monopoly are. The article is actually much bigger than that, and it's pretty scary in general.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2017, 9:49 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Fascism comes from the middle class

That's the argument from Carl Beijer.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2017, 9:48 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




The Bruenig Reader

Someone put together a collection of Matt Bruenig's articles on poverty and i thought it would be good to preserve a link to it here. The summaries of the articles is actually a good read in and of itself.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2017, 9:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




The Future Is Now

The interesting thing about this post (also from Naked Capitalism) isn't so much the content but the verb tense. I've mainly seen this "America is becoming a third world country" articles describing what could happen, but this one talks like it already is.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2017, 9:38 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Unity: You're doing it wrong

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism looks at the latest kerfuffle over Bernie supporting a pro-abortion candidate and the failed Unity Tour with Perez in general.

(There's also apparently more nuance to Mello's abortion position, but that's really besides the point.)


By fnord12 | April 24, 2017, 9:18 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Only the good Don Young

Eve Peyser has an interesting piece on the growing bipartisan consensus to legalize marijuana, and the most surprising part is that the very rightwing Don Young is on board.

But when I meet Don Young, the 83-year-old Republican congressman from Alaska, he gets more personal. "I, very frankly, I don't use [marijuana]. I have not used it. A lot of my in-laws use it. So far it's been good. In a sense, it's less violent than alcohol," he tells me. "A lot of people forget that. Alcohol can cause real mental problems."

...As soon as Young begins talking about weed--or rather "cannabis," as he corrects me--as it relates to his family and alcohol, we're on the same page, a feeling I certainly did not anticipate.

...I never binge-drank because I loved alcohol--I did so because I really wanted to get fucked up, and it was the substance most available to me. When I finally decided to quit doing something I had indulged in every single day for years, the addict inside me didn't suddenly wither away. I didn't suddenly start hating drugs. I just realized there was an alternative, a way outside of the anxiety of sobriety that wasn't going to absolutely annihilate me. And that alternative was weed.

I understand this is not everyone's experience with the drug, but this narrative is not uncommon, and I share this view with Don Young, of all people. "You have to understand that I live with American Indians. That's my home. That's my wife," the Alaska congressman tells me. "Marijuana is a lot better than alcohol. I want to stress that because alcohol creates violence, and I've seen great people cut somebody's head off drunk. You don't see that with marijuana. I'm not condoning it. I'm saying that was the effect upon them, and now they smoke."


By fnord12 | April 21, 2017, 3:00 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Hard to argue with doing away with slideshows, but...

Just starting to learn about Google AMP. The idea seems to be to encourage good website design:

AMP, which will display pages four times faster, according to Google, has launched because interactive features became too burdensome across widely travelled websites. Too many ads, too many slideshows, too much dynamically embedded content without much value to the user...

The lite-loading HTML creates a preferred language across content manufacturers. No more poorly formatted local news sites, purposely-scaled and vaguely branded content farms...

Social networks and search engines want to deliver content to users without losing them, bouncing around pages without gimmicky Outbrain related links that lead you straight to nowhere. AMP pages help Google browsers feel like they aren't just being propelled into a web of nothingness.

I'm 100% on board with that. The downside seems to be that Google is making AMP available to "premium content farms" before everyone else, creating a two-tiered system of websites: "big box" sites that get top priority in search results and then sites by random people (like this one and a lot of the sites i read). The issue there ultimately stems from the fact that Google has (deservedly) won the search engine game and is effectively a monopoly, so the way that they prioritize their search results has a huge impact.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2017, 10:11 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Court rules that fan-created subtitles are illegal

Movie piracy is no small thing in the Netherlands, and an industry group called BREIN exists to combat pirates there. But going after torrenters themselves is difficult, so BREIN has also focused on periphery targets, like advertisers on torrent sites and, now, sites that host fan-created subtitles. And a Netherlands court ruling agreed with BREIN and said that unauthorized subtitles are an infringement.

This is BS on a number of levels, including the fact that subtitles have value for people well beyond pirated movies. But what i hate most about the case is that BREIN's argument in part is that fansubbers provide "unfair competition for emerging business models involving movies and TV shows". In other words, how can we monetize this if people are doing it for free? By that same argument, Encyclopedia Britannica should sue Wikipedia. The best thing about the internet is that millions of people are willing to provide content - in the form of Wikipedia articles or movie subtitles or comic book reviews - for free because it's their hobby or passion. Making a portion of that illegal because it's "unfair competition" for someone who wants to charge for it could be very damaging.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2017, 8:42 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale

I watched the 1990 version with Natasha Richardson ages ago having never read the book or even heard of Margaret Atwood. For years after, i was so enraged and disturbed by the rape scenes that i instinctively hated the sight of Robert Duvall and couldn't stomach seeing him in any other movies.

A couple of my friends were very excited when Hulu announced they were making a new adaptation. With politicians chipping away at Roe v Wade and an internet that threatens women with rape and then acts like the threat-makers are the victims, it seemed like the right time to revisit Atwood's dystopian society.

Set in the very near future, Hulu's new adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale subtly updates Atwood's dystopia. The execution of a gay woman in episode three seems inspired by a real Iranian execution. Played by Elisabeth Moss, Offred is more relatable than she's ever been, with a motto ("I intend to survive") destined for a thousand Etsy products. In the show, as in our moment, it is not just men, but crucially some women, too, who fervently wish for a society where women are no longer free or equal. Women known as Aunts initiate the Handmaids into their new roles; Wives terrorize Handmaids with little restraint. These women midwife Gilead into the world, though it's not clear what they stand to gain from any of it.

Most contradictory and recognizable of all these female collaborators is Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), the wife of Offred's commander. Before Gilead, she graced American television screens as a preternaturally blond evangelist. (Serena Joy was her stage name, a nom de guerre for the culture wars.) Even though she occupies the highest rank for a woman in this new world, she is now legally inferior to her sad-sack husband and, finding herself childless, has to employ Offred as a surrogate. Rage roils the edges of her ice-princess restraint. "She doesn't make speeches anymore," Offred notes in the book. "She stays in her home, but it doesn't seem to agree with her. How furious she must be, now that she's been taken at her word."

Link

And in a time when Madeleine "I think the death of 500,000 children was worth it" Albright feels she's allowed to scold young women for not supporting Hillary Clinton, it seemed like the right time to re-examine the definition of "feminism".

But The Handmaid's Tale does more than present a possible future: It asks us to consider how we'd end up there. A form of feminism that celebrates power for power's sake, instead of interrogating how it is concentrated and distributed, will usher us into fascism. Feminism means something. Some choices oppress the women who make them, and some beliefs, if enforced, would oppress everyone else, too. Allow an antichoice woman to call herself a feminist, and you have ceded political territory that you cannot afford to lose. Stripped of political meaning, "feminist" becomes an entirely subjective term that anyone with any agenda can use.

Because it's not just the Kellyanne Conways/Serena Joys we should be wary of. It's the "reasonable" women who want us to help boost them up to positions of power because "feminism", and not only never lend other women a hand up once we've helped them gain that power, but instead work hard to keep women down. Yes, feminism means something.


By min | April 20, 2017, 6:26 PM | Boooooks & Liberal Outrage & TeeVee | Link




Fuck Work

Link

Work no longer works. "You need to acquire more skills," we tell young job seekers whose résumés at 22 are already longer than their parents' were at 32. "Work will give you meaning," we encourage people to tell themselves, so that they put in 60 hours or more per week on the job, removing them from other sources of meaning, such as daydreaming or social life. "Work will give you satisfaction," we insist, even though it requires abiding by employers' rules, and the unwritten rules of the market, for most of our waking hours. At the very least, work is supposed to be a means to earning an income. But if it's possible to work full time and still live in poverty, what's the point?
...
Against this bleak landscape, a growing body of scholarship aims to overturn our culture's deepest assumptions about how work confers wealth, meaning, and care throughout society. In Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk About It), Elizabeth Anderson, a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, explores how the discipline of work has itself become a form of tyranny, documenting the expansive power that firms now wield over their employees in everything from how they dress to what they tweet. James Livingston, a historian at Rutgers, goes one step further in No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea. Instead of insisting on jobs for all or proposing that we hold employers to higher standards, Livingston argues, we should just scrap work altogether.
...
We can try to convince ourselves that we are free, but as long as we must submit to the increasing authority of our employers and the labor market, we are not. We therefore fancy that we want to work, that work grounds our character, that markets encompass the possible. We are unable to imagine what a full life could be, much less to live one. Even more radically, both books highlight the dramatic and alarming changes that work has undergone over the past century--insisting that, in often unseen ways, the changing nature of work threatens the fundamental ideals of democracy: equality and freedom.

The idea that your life only has meaning because of your job is repugnant to me. My life has meaning because i say it does, not because of what i'm employed to do. Sure, some people derive enjoyment from their work, but that should be extra. It shouldn't be the end all, be all of your self-worth.

I know someone who has two full time jobs and another with one full time job and two part time jobs - all just to make ends meet. If their lives had any more "satisfaction" or "meaning", i think they'd die from exhaustion.

And for those who think you must work because without work, "what would you do with your time?" - If you can't imagine having a full life without work to eat up the hours of the day, i'm sad for you. Start picking up some hobbies.


By min | April 20, 2017, 3:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Explaining New Feminism to Boomers

Responding to the same author as Sara Jones, Katie Halper has a long detailed takedown of the article blaming Millennial feminists for Clinton's loss.

(I should note that Jones doesn't actually like the headline, on the grounds that plenty of Boomer feminists supported Bernie.)


By fnord12 | April 18, 2017, 12:20 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Keep the pressure on

Despite having bribed all the local Democratic parties to get anointed frontrunner status in the primary, Phil Murphy is feeling the pressure from John Wisniewski (and others), especially about his Wall Street ties. And therefore Murphy has come out with a very good proposal, a public bank in NJ. Campaign promises are of course fleeting things, but just introducing this idea into the public consciousness is a good thing, and now this is something that activists can use to hold Murphy's feet to the fire (assuming that Wiz doesn't win).


By fnord12 | April 18, 2017, 9:32 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Then... Korea

Noam Chomsky recently was interviewed by Democracy Now and gave a good context for our "conflict" with Korea that is lacking in most mainstream coverage (for example, this NYT piece that says "the roots of the Korean crisis go back a quarter-century" which is only off by four decades or so). Relatedly, the Nation has an article looking at North Korea from the perspective of South Korea, and it's really interesting.

First, here's Chomsky:

Well, it's kind of interesting to look at the record. The claim is "Well, we've tried everything. Nothing works. Therefore, we have to use force." Is it true that nothing's worked? I mean, there is a record, after all. And if you look at the record, it's interesting.

1994, Clinton made--established what was called the Framework Agreement with North Korea. North Korea would terminate its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. would reduce hostile acts. It more or less worked, and neither side lived up to it totally, but, by 2000, North Korea had not proceeded with its nuclear weapons programs. George W. Bush came in and immediately launched an assault on North Korea--you know, "axis of evil," sanctions and so on. North Korea turned to producing nuclear weapons. In 2005, there was an agreement between North Korea and the United States, a pretty sensible agreement. North Korea agreed to terminate its development of nuclear weapons. In return, it called for a nonaggression pact. So, stop making hostile threats, relief from harsh sanctions, and provision of a system to provide North Korea with low-enriched uranium for medical and other purposes--that was the proposal. George Bush instantly tore it to shreds. Within days, the U.S. was imposing--trying to disrupt North Korean financial transactions with other countries through Macau and elsewhere. North Korea backed off, started building nuclear weapons again. I mean, maybe you can say it's the worst regime in history, whatever you like, but they have been following a pretty rational tit-for-tat policy.

And why are they developing nuclear weapons altogether? I mean, the economy is in bad shape. They could certainly use the resources. Everyone understands that it's a deterrent. And they have a proposal, actually. There's a proposal on the table. China and North Korea proposed that North Korea should terminate its further development of nuclear weapons. In return, the United States should stop carrying out threatening military maneuvers with South Korea right on its border. Not an unreasonable proposal. It's simply dismissed. Actually, Obama dismissed it, too. There are possible steps that could be taken to alleviate which could be an extremely serious crisis. I mean, if the U.S. did decide to use force against North Korea, one immediate reaction, according to the military sources available to us, is that Seoul, the city of Seoul, would simply be wiped out by mass North Korean artillery aimed at it. And who knows where we'd go from there? But the opportunity to produce--to move towards a negotiated diplomatic settlement does not seem outlandish. I mean, this Chinese-North Korean proposal is certainly worth serious consideration, I would think.

After labeling Iraq, Iran, and North Korea an "Axis of Evil" and then invading Iraq, it shouldn't be a surprise that the other two countries want nuclear weapons.

Chomsky also looks at the older history (the one that goes back more than the NYT's quarter century):

And it's worth bearing in mind that North Korea has some memories. They were practically destroyed by some of the most intensive bombing in history. The bombing--you should--it's worth reading. Maybe you should read, people, the official Air Force history of the bombing of North Korea. It's shattering. I mean, they had flattened the country. There were no targets left. So, therefore, they decided, well, we'll attack the dams--which is a war crime, of course. And the description of the attack on the dams is--without the exact wording, I hate to paraphrase it. You should really read the--they were simply exalting, in the official histories, Air Force Quarterly and others, about the--how magnificent it will be to see this massive flood of water coursing through North Korea, wiping out crops. For Asians, the rice crops is their life. This will destroy them. It will be magnificent. The North Koreans lived through that. And having nuclear-capable B-52s flying on their border is not a joke.

And now for the Nation's review of South Korea's perspective (i recommend reading the whole thing and also clicking through to the article by Bruce Cumings which expands on what Chomskey said above, but here are some excerpts):

With the exception of a tiny minority of fanatical anti-communists, South Koreans have largely been unfazed by the headlines. "I'm much more worried about anything President Trump might do than the threats of war and retaliation from North Korea," a friend of mine who teaches engineering at a local university in Gwangju told me over dinner one night.
South Korea will choose its next president on May 9. The two leading candidates, the liberal Moon Jae-in and the more centrist Ahn Cheol-soo, have wide leads over the likely conservative candidate, Hong Jun-pyo. The United States has been closely following the election with growing trepidation. As I reported last year before Park was deposed, US military officials and analysts have expressed alarm that the left opposition could win this year.
Moon has staked out a position very different from Trump's: He has called for direct dialogue and negotiations with North Korea and a reopening of the economic cooperation with the North championed by Roh and Kim Dae-jung, the beloved opposition leader who was president in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

These ideas are very attractive to Koreans tired of the years-long dispute between Pyongyang and Washington. "We in South Korea can do this on our own initiative," one of my colleagues at the Gwangju City Archives told me over lunch on Monday, referring to Kim's "Sunshine" policies toward the North. A professor of European industrial history at a nearby university told me many Koreans are convinced that the United States wants to maintain the North as an enemy to "help your military industry."

Meanwhile, at their first group debate on April 13, both Moon and Ahn expressed strong opposition to a unilateral US pre-emptive strike and emphasized that South Korea must play a lead role in any dealings with North Korea or China. The candidates are now running neck and neck, and either one could win the presidency.

That will likely force a change in Trump's policy, away from confrontation and back to the combination of sanctions and military strength emphasized by the Obama administration.

It seems to me it's more that if Ahn wins, the policy might go back to Obama's, but if Moon wins it might be something even better: a real start to de-escalation and possibly (eventually) even reunification. In fact, reading between the lines, it almost seems like the Trump administration's recent escalation is an attempt to swing the election, to get South Koreans to be afraid of North Korea again and vote more conservatively. But hopefully it won't work.

In a stinging editorial on Easter Sunday, the Hankyoreh newspaper, which was founded by journalists purged during the authoritarian 1970s and '80s, blamed both sides for aggravating tensions.

"A military clash on the Korean Peninsula would have disastrous consequences not only for North and South Korea but also for all neighboring countries," the newspaper said. "That is why we will never agree with hardliners who are willing to go to war and who see war as inevitable. The brinkmanship of the U.S. and North Korea, which appear to be engaged in a battle of nerves, is tantamount to taking hostage the entire populations of North and South Korea."

I think it would be really amazing and positive if Moon won the election and began to defuse the situation between North and South Korea, leaving the US on the sidelines.

(Title for this post, in an attempt to lighten the mood, is from Mike Sterling.)


By fnord12 | April 18, 2017, 8:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Wake up and smell the 90s

Nothing says The Nineties like Swedish death metal.

From Wikipedia:

One version of Wolverine Blues was released with Marvel Comics' character Wolverine on the cover, despite Entombed never wanting their album to be associated with the superhero... The Marvel edition was also heavily edited...

By fnord12 | April 17, 2017, 12:21 PM | Comics & Music | Link




Desert Candy Is A Lie

In 1849, hungry gold miners crossing the Nevada desert noticed some glistening balls of a candy-like substance on a cliff, licked or ate the balls, and discovered them to be sweet-tasting, but then they developed nausea. Eventually it was realized that the balls were hardened deposits made by small rodents, called packrats, that protect themselves by building nests of sticks, plant fragments, and mammal dung gathered in the vicinity, plus food remains, discarded bones, and their own feces. Not being toilet-trained, the rats urinate in their nests, and sugar and other substances crystallize from their urine as it dries out, cementing the midden to a brick-like consistency. In effect, the hungry gold miners were eating dried rat urine laced with rat feces and rat garbage.

From Collapse by Jared Diamond, which is a very interesting book and mostly not about Rat Piss Gobstoppers (the packrat deposits are a way that archaeologists are able to determine what the climate and vegetation was like at various points during the Anasazi civilization).


By fnord12 | April 17, 2017, 9:32 AM | Boooooks | Link




Not an Onion article

These people are serious. Well, and/or they think we are stupid.

"Enviros celebrate by planting trees but they never celebrate the trucks that deliver the trees, or the gas that powers that truck, or the plastic handles of the shovels they use," an email from the organization reads. "Shouldn't Mother Earth be thanked for making Earth Day events possible?"

Budding artists are encouraged to send their original works in by April 21 with the main requirement that it "should showcase the awesomeness of fossil fuels."

Cooke told ThinkProgress that the organization's fossil fuels art contest is rooted in inclusivity. "Fossil fuels seem to get left out of the Earth Day celebration," she said via email. "As an energy feminist  --  pro-choice in energy sources  --  I feel it's important to have hydrocarbons equally represented."

By fnord12 | April 12, 2017, 11:09 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link




Doubly admirable

It's one thing that she's 86 years old, but you have to be really committed to spraypaint graffiti in German.


By fnord12 | April 11, 2017, 10:31 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.