Still #sprouting #microgreens. These are now our main source of fresh veg while we're in lockdown. We still have plenty of preserved and frozen veg. We had a soil contamination incident on #solarlab so we're sticking to microgreens for now till we can get new soil.
The next step is to finish developing a wiki and some initial content for it
My latest novel is Attack Surface, a sequel to my bestselling Little Brother books. @washingtonpost called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance."
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."
My first picture book is 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.
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!
Despite the vast triumphs of the world's largest corporations and most rapacious billionaires during the covid crisis, neoliberalism is in ideological retreat: more people are more critical of the idea that "free markets" can solve big problems than at any time in my life.
The Democratic nomination race was a fight between the neoliberal wing of the party and the Democratic Socialists, with the candidates representing a spectrum between those two sides (and the odd outlier on either side).
Supposedly, the party grandees brokered peace between the two main factions, but the left is rightfully suspicious about whether Biden - and Republicans-who-sit-as-Dems like Joe Manchin - will deliver anything beyond symbolic gestures.
One bright spot: Bernie Sanders is finally chairing the Senate Budget Committee, giving him enormous power over muscular covid relief packages, Medicare expansion, and rolling back Trump and Bush tax-cuts on the super-rich.
This is where Sanders' long experience in the Senate, and his virtuoso work using its procedures to advance his position, will serve him well. As we saw with McConnell, the ability to wield procedure is a powerful asset in getting stuff done.
Sanders knows all the dirty tricks that the Senate majority leaders used to sink his efforts, *and* he knows all the countermeasures that work against those tricks. He will be a force to be reckoned with.
Beyond key appointments, a key test for the Biden administration will be its posture on antitrust, the area of economic doctrine that has been most transformed by the debate over capitalism.
40 years ago, Reaganites managed to convert antitrust from a *political* doctrine to an *economic* one: rather than asking whether a monopoly would pervert good policy for workers, citizens, and institutions, antitrust narrowed to asking whether monopolies were raising prices.
Antitrust enforcers stopped listening to workers who'd been laid off or had their wages cut. They stopped listening to customers who got worse products and less choice. They stopped listening to entrepreneurs who were frozen out of the market by predatory monopolists.
The only people they'd hear from were duelling economists with impenetrable equations that supposedly represented the likelihood that a monopolist was hiking prices. Strangely, these models almost never showed that rising prices could be attributed to monopolies.
The GOP antitrust wreckers called themselves the "Chicago School" for the University of Chicago economics department that served as their cult headquarters. The Dems had "post-Chicago School" antitrust, who were effectively indistinguishable from the Chicago School.
When Obama ran for office in 2007, he promised real action on antitrust. Taking office in the midst of the Great Financial Crisis, Obama had the unprecedented opportunity to make good on those promises.
A new report from the American Economic Liberties Project, "The Courage to Learn: A Retrospective on Antitrust and Competition Policy During the Obama Administration and a Framework for a New, Structuralist Approach," is comprehensive on the Obama admin's failures.
The Obama admin oversaw massive concentration in healthcare, transport, defense contracting, entertainment, media, tech, agribusiness, and other key US industries. At the time, officials boasted of their record.
Today, as public opinion (and lawmaker priorities) shift to trustbusting, these same officials are the ones decrying the bipartisan failures to grapple with monopolies. Many are on deck to serve in the Biden admin, alongside Big Tech lobbyists pushed to run antitrust (!).
Obama's antitrust enforcement record is terrible - he didn't just squander the opportunity of the Great Financial Crisis; his enforcers actually made things worse, leaving midterm to work for white-shoe firms that worked to secure mergers.
These enforcers saw themselves as "dealmakers," not cops. They allowed 90,297 mergers during Obama's terms, taking action on only 313 of them, accounting for 3% of the $11.67 *trillion* in merger activity 2008-16.
Those 3% of deals were almost all waved through, with some modest conditions binding the new conglomerates not to abuse their market power. These deals could be rescinded at the stroke of a pen by future administrations - which is exactly what the Trump admin did.
Obama's antitrust enforcers voluntarily announced that they would not use the most powerful tools their founding statutes afforded them. They closed investigations into Monsanto and Google.
Obama's monopolies were terrible for consumers: medical costs for insured families rose by $10,000 on their watch; airline prices skyrocketed, and the quality of both plummeted (literally, in the case of Boeing's 737 Max) on Obama's watch.
But Obama's antitrust enforcers did do *some* aggressive enforcement...against workers. His administration set records in punishing trade associations of independent contractors, from electricians to building superintendants to church organists.
This was a prelude to the signature labor policy of the Obama years: the misclassification of an ever-expanding pool of workers as "independent contractors" whose organizing activity could be punished under antitrust law as "price-fixing."
The other Obama signature policy - ACA - encouraged health care monopoly mergers on the theory that this would provide coordinated care. Today, these monopolists provide price-gouging and a "medical assembly line" that cares only for shareholders' financial health.
Today's trustbusting revival was incited by Big Tech's massive concentration and naked greed .Obama's enforcers waved through every single Big Tech acquisition for eight years, without a single significant enforcement action.
The Biden admin must *not* be let off the hook if it hires back the same Obama apparatchiks who committed antitrust malfeasance for eight long years - especially not the ones who left for cushy jobs in law/lobbying representing monopolists.
And we need to pour on the pressure to make Rohit Chopra the next Chairman of the FTC. Chopra is fearless and tough, who has advocated that repeat corporate offenders face breakups, dismissal of top execs, and bonus clawbacks.
Chopra's (good) notorious for saying "FTC orders are not suggestions." Companies that treat them as such get the corporate death penalty.
Like Sanders, Chopra has shown that he knows how to work the system.
When he was at the Consumer Finance Protection Board, he used public pressure to get predatory student lenders to knuckle under, a tactic that alienated cozy swamp-monsters who were used to doing everything behind closed doors.
So it's like two and a half thousand years ago in Athens right and there's this guy called Peisistratos and he's all walking around goin "Heeey, what's up guys, you know how my uncle Solon gave you all the right to vote in shit? Weeell it's kinda not great because the Oligarchs still kinda have all the power and regular dudes don't even get that much of the say, it seems like this Democracy thing might not be good after all? How about you all come with me and we overthrow the oligarchs and you install me in supreme unquestionable power and I'll give you a bunch of stuff in return, sound good?"
This was kinda going on all over Greece at the time, Oligarchs would get rich and Tyrants would spring up like prooop
So the people of Athens are like "Fuck yeah, fuck these Oligarchs man, they're always being like rich and shit. And I'm pretty sure they're in bed with Sparta and that's just a dick move bro" so they put him in power and were like "we live in a tyranny"
when Peisistratos was installed he started getting people to build wells, temples, statues, fuckin roads and Athens went from like a few villages to like an actual town.
And people are all "Yeah huh this is pretty cool, we're all getting jobs and look at all this cool new shit. It's pretty good to be an Athenian in the Tyranny" ... "Unless you're a slave" one said, "Or a woman" another shouted, "I hate women, why can't I impregnate my boyfriend instead of fuckin with that hetero shit?" because ancient greeks were super gay but also like super patriarchal because they're fuckin cis men
But then Peisistratos decides "Hey, I'm all powerful right? Why ain't I all rich too?" So he goes up to landowners and is all "Hey, why, instead of growing food that we can eat, you grow food that we can sell for a profit to other places? You make money, I make money, it's a win win. Except for the poor I guess... and the women... and the slaves, but they're all busy in the mines anyway"
So Peisistratos dies and he has done a bunch of public infrastructure but also kinda made Athens even more hierarchical and unequal than it already was, because now there was a super rich super powerful person above the oligarchs who were above the rest of athens who were above the women and slaves.
Peisistratos has two kids Hippias and Hipparchus and of course they're both fuckin brats right. Hipparchus is all walking around like "Oooh look at me, my daddy built the fuckin road you walk on." He's just walking around insulting people and abusing his position of power thinking nobody will touch him because he's co-tyrant.
One day he meets this dude called Harmodius and he's all "Woah.... WOAH.... that is one fuckin sexy dude..." And Harmodius is like "Hey, sorry bro, I have a boyfriend."
And Hipparchus is like "But I'm like the tyrant, so like, that means you kinda have to be my boyfriend now"
Harmodius doesn't really know what to say to that so he just kinda silently backs away
Now the Panatheniac games are on and this is like what the Olympics was but it's like just for Athens so it's just kinda not as good but still worth going to if you've got nothing else on that day.
Hippias, Hipparchus, Harmodius, Aristogeiton, they're all at the panatheniac games one day. Now Hipparchus sees the couple together and he's like "yessss now for my devilish scheme."
Hipparchus finds Harmodius' sister and is all like "Hey, you seem like you could do a sports, why don't you play something in the games?"
And she's all "Yeah! I love the... sports! And yeah, I'll yeah I'll do that"
So she's all getting ready to throw a ball or a stick or something and she's stretching and Hipparchus points at her and shouts "Ewww! See look at her stretching, I don't think that woman is a virgin at all!" and he just starts publically slutshaming her like a complete cunt.
Harmodius sees this and he's like "What... the fuck, this dude hits on me and now slutshames my unnamed sister?"
So Harmodius goes up to his boyfriend and is all "Hey... babe... I've got a plan, this guy is gonna be all tyrannyifying and shit, insulting my sister, well I ain't doing that. I wanna kill this guy, you in?"
And Aristogeiton's like "BABE OMG yes of COURSE I want to do a tyrannicide with you!"
"Ok, play along" Harmodius says and goes onto the field.
"Aristogeiton!" he says to the crowd "Won't you pick up that shotput for me?" and he winks and Aristogeiton who pretends to not be able to pick up the ball.
"Why my boyfriend is weak. He doesn't even lift, bro. I must need a new one!" he again declares to the crowd, then looking at Hipparchus "I'm sure our strong tyrant Hipparchus can lift it for me"
Hipparchus is all like "Yes... fuck YES. I like insulted his sister and now this guy wants to fuck me, this is the best plan."
So he runs over to the shotput, smugly smiles at Aristogeiton and picks up the shotput with one hand.
"Oh wow, stronk man, why don't you bring it over here?"
Hipparchus brings the shotput over and he's smiling and Harmodius is like "FOOLED YOU" and he stabs him and then Aristogeiton stabs him too and is all "Be gay, do crimes, bitch!"
Boom, dead tyrant.
Hippias sees this and he's like "Naw... fuck naw... my brother is just dead, like... naw. I'm the tyrant, these bitches gonna pay."
Harmodius and Aristogeiton are killed of course and Hippias is like going full tyrant, he's the guy that gave tyranny the definition that it has now. He was all taxing the poor and killing the poor and just being a general dick.
And now all the people of Athens hate the tyanny, Hippias is having to cosy up to the Persian empire and other Greek tyrants just to keep himself in power.
The Spartans were like "Naw... naw... fuck this, the Tyrants are like being.. Tyrants. And our buddies the oligarchs, they're not even liking this stuff either. We're going to invade Athens, depose the Tyranny and impose an Oligarchy" and that's what they did
So now Hippias is taking refuge in Persia and there's a bunch of rich Oligarchs in power in Athens and the people are all like "Fuck this. We just had to go through all them years of tyranny and now the oligarchy is back and we're just doing the same thing as before with the rich in power? We should like do the opposite of tyranny, make a system where like everyone gets a direct say in how we govern society... except women and slaves. Then it won't be these rich oligarchs that the Spartans like and it won't be these powerful tyrants that the Persians like and it'll just be us and we like us because we are us!"
And all of Athens was like "Yay!" the poor people of Athens were like "Fuck yeah, revolution babeeeee!"
So the city rises up in revolt and the oligarchs fuckin hide like pussies in the Acropolis. The people of athens are like "Lol" and climb that shit and they're at the doors like "Y'all rich cunts gonnae diiiieee"
The king of Sparta is trapped in there too, the oligarchs are freaking out.
The people outside have taken to calling themselves 'Democrats' and are all like "Show me what Democracy looks like!" "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE"
The Spartan king is all like "Hey guys, I'm sorry I installed an oligarchy here, can I go home please?"
The people took a vote and decided "Yeah fuck it, why not."
They let the king get back to Sparta, but they were too busy killing the rich to care.
This guy Cleisthenes starts proposing sweeping reforms to the Athenian assembly, he thought a functioning democracy required the ruling class to be divided, so he attacked the very thing he saw as the source of oligarchy: family inheritance. People were no longer to be loyal to their families but to their 'Demes', the local communities in which they conducted directly democratic assemblies.
Cleisthenes gets a statue built of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, setting in stone democracy's origins in gay crime
So whenever anyone tells you "We live in a democracy" you say "No. We live in an oligarchy, one in which the ruling class is united and the working class is divided. If you truly care for democracy, then get out there, do some gay crimes, destroy the ruling class fam"
I've been remembering Allison Randal as "that Canonical lawyer who was pushing for CLAs with Harmony", and was super surprised to see her on the SFC board, but after reading https://allisonrandal.com/2011/04/12/harmony-history/ I see her in what is probably a fairer light.
First of all, she's not a lawyer.
I knew she was a developer involved in both Perl and Python, but I thought she was a lawyer too. =)