/ / Podcast

Last night I sat down for an interview and lively Q&A at the Kelowna Public Library with the CBC’s Sarah Penton as part of the Canada Reads national book prize, for which my book Radicalized is a finalist. Courtney Dickson was kind enough to send me raw audio from the board and to give me permission to post it and include it in my podcast feed. It was a genuinely wonderful night, with great and thoughtful questions, and I’m really glad that I get to share it with you! (MP3)

/ / Articles

My latest Locus column explores what copyright expert Rebecca Giblin calls “The New Copyright Bargain” – a copyright system designed around enriching authors above all, rather rather than treating authors’ incomes as an incidental output of enriching entertainment or tech corporations. The column is called “A Lever Without a Fulcrum is Just a Stick.” Copyright is billed as giving creators leverage over the corporations we contract with, but levers need fulcrums.

https://locusmag.com/2020/03/cory-doctorow-a-lever-without-a-fulcrum-is-just-a-stick/

In an increasingly concentrated marketplace, any exclusive rights that are given to creators are simply appropriated by corporations as a non-negotiable condition of the standard contract. Think of how samples could originally be used without permission (in the Paul’s Boutique/It Takes a Nation of Millions era), enriching old R&B artists who’d been burned by one-sided contracts.

(Image from Kembrew Macleod’s “Creative License” https://www.dukeupress.edu/creative-license)

Those artists experienced a temporary enrichment when paying for samples became the norm, but today, all contracts simply require signing away your sampling rights. The fight to require licenses for samples merely gave the labels yet another right to demand of their artists. Which means that anyone hoping to sample must sign to a label and pay for a license either to that label or one of the other three. Giving new rights to artists in a monopolized market is like giving your bullied kid more lunch money. It doesn’t buy the kid lunch, it just gives the bullies the opportunity to take more money from your kid.

After the “Blurred Lines” suit, labels have begun to fret about being sued over artists’ copying the “vibe” of another artist. It’s easy to feel smug about copyright maximalists being hoist on their own petards. But the end-game is easy to see: just make selling your “vibe” rights a condition of signing a record deal, and you transfer ownership of whole genres to the Big 4 labels.

What would a copyright look like that protected artists, rather than practicing the Magic Underpants Gnome method of:

  1. Enrich entertainment corporations;

  2. ?????

  3. Artists get more money

Any new bargain in copyright centered on artists needs to take account of the concentration in tech and entertainment, and create rights for artists that aren’t just creator’s monopolies to be scooped up through non-negotiable contracts. Measures like reversion (which lets artists in the USA claim back rights they signed away 35 years ago), blanket licenses (designed to pay artists regardless of whether they’re “rightsholders”), and restoring unionization rights are the key to paying artists.

Merely expanding the “author’s monopoly” does no good in a world of industrial monopolies: it just gives those monopolists more ammo to use in the fight to shift revenues onto their own balance sheets, at the expense of working creators.

/ / Podcast

A couple of weeks ago, I posted Part I of my interview with the Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons podcast, a podcast that covers computer security in a way that is accessible to nontechnical people. Carey Parker has posted part II (MP3) of the interview, where we dig into Right to Repair, Adversarial Interoperability, and monopoly control and trustbusting. It’s a great interview — hope you enjoy hearing it as much as I enjoyed participating in it!

/ / News

Today’s links

  1. How “Authoritarian Blindness” kept Xi from dealing with coronavirus: Zeynep Tufekci in outstanding form.
  2. The Snowden Archive: every publicly available Snowden doc, collected and annotated.
  3. Key computer vision researcher quits: facial recognition is a moral quagmire.
  4. My interview on adversarial interoperability: you can’t shop your way out of late-stage capitalism.
  5. 81 Fortune 100 companies demand binding arbitration: monopoly and its justice system.
  6. I’m coming to Kelowna! Canada Reads is bringing me to the BC interior, March 5.
  7. A flat earther commits suicide by conspiracy theory: conspiracies are comorbid with corruption.
  8. This day in history: 2019, 2015, 2010, 2005
  9. Colophon: Recent publications, current writing projects, upcoming appearances, current reading


How “Authoritarian Blindness” kept Xi from dealing with coronavirus (permalink)

Xi Jinping’s refashioning of the Chinese internet to ratchet up surveillance and censorship made it all but impossible for the Chinese state to use the internet to detect and contain Corona Virus, writes Zeynep Tufekci in The Atlantic. Tufekci talks about “authoritarian blindness,” where people too scared to tell the autocrat the hard truths makes it impossible for the autocrat to set policy that reflects reality.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/02/coronavirus-and-blindness-authoritarianism/606922/

(Cue Mao telling China to “eat 5 meals a day” because his apparats were too scared to warn him of impending famine, then selling off the nation’s food reserves for foreign currency because he thought it was surplus. Food production collapsed.)

Before Xi, a certain amount of online dissidence was tolerated because it helped root out dangerously corrupt local leaders before they could do real damage. It’s always hard to make autocracies sustainable because corruption and looting leaves them hollow and brittle.

When Xi took power in 2012, he restored “one man rule” and began a series of maneuvers, including purges, to consolidate power for himself. The rise and rise of China’s mobile internet made this far more effective than at any time in history.

“Authoritarian blindness” kicked off the Hong Kong protests because the state so badly misjudged the cause and severity of the grievances there. The same thing happened in Wuhan when doctors and netizens faced retaliation for describing early virus outbreaks.

The reality-debt built up by official denial always results in reality bankruptcy, eventually – so finally, the reports of the virus were so widespread and alarming they could no longer be suppressed. But by then, the virus had proliferated. This is an important point: “the killer digital app for authoritarianism isn’t listening in on people through increased surveillance, but listening to them as they express their honest opinions, especially complaints.”

That’s how you stabilize the unstable: by using digital authoritarianism to fine tune the minimum viable amount of good governance to diffuse public anger. It’s how you maximize your looting without getting strung up by your ankles.



The Snowden Archive (permalink)

The Snowden Surveillance Archive collects “all documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have subsequently been published by news media.”

https://snowdenarchive.cjfe.org/greenstone/cgi-bin/library.cgi

It’s indexed and searchable, created by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Politics of Surveillance Project at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. (Canada is a “Five Eyes” country that partners with the NSA on global mass surveillance)

There’s a “Portable Archive” version – a tarball with all the docs so you can create your own mirror:

https://snowdenarchive.cjfe.org/greenstone/collect/snowden1/portablearchive.html

They provide instructions for turning this into a kiosk they call a “Snowden Archive-in-a-Box.” Costs about CAD120.00



Key computer vision researcher quits (permalink)

Joseph Redmon is the creator of YOLO (You Only Look Once), a key Computer Vision technology. He’s just announced his resignation from computer vision work, citing ethical concerns with Facial Recognition.

https://twitter.com/pjreddie/status/1230523827446091776

His thread is really important, calling out the gap between what ML researchers SAY they want to do about ethics and how they actually deal with ethical issues: “basically all facial recognition work would not get published if we took Broader Impacts sections seriously.”

“There is almost no upside and enormous downside risk.” That’s some serious Oppenheimer stuff right there. The kicker? “For most of grad school I bought in to the myth that science is apolitical and research is objectively moral and good no matter what the subject is.”



My interview on adversarial interoperability (permalink)

The Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons podcast (which offers information security advice and analysis for non-technical people) just posted part 2 of our interview on Adversarial Interoperability, Right To Repair, and technological fairness.

http://podcast.firewallsdontstopdragons.com/2020/02/24/adversarial-interoperability-part-2/

Part one went live last week:

https://twitter.com/doctorow/status/1229842619380858885

In this one, I try to explain how John Deere’s war on farm-based repairs is connected to Apple’s war on independent repair, and how consumer choices can’t solve either problem — but collective action can!

It’ll take a movement, not individual action. Thankfully, such a movement exists. EFF’s Electronic Frontier Alliance, a network of groups nationwide working on local issues with national coordination. It’s the antidote to individual powerlessness.

https://www.eff.org/electronic-frontier-alliance/allies



81 Fortune 100 companies demand binding arbitration (permalink)

Binding arbitration was originally created as a way for giant corporations to resolve their disputes with each other without decades-long court battles costing tens of millions of dollars. SCOTUS ratified the principal in 1925: firms of similar size and power could use binding arbitration as an alternative to litigation.

http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/we-now-have-a-justice-system-just-for-corporations

In the century since, corporations have eroded the idea of arbitration as something reserved for co-equals and have turned it into a condition of employment and of being a customer.

In an era of both monopoly and monoposony, it can be hard to find a single employer OR vendor who will conduct business with you unless you first surrender the rights your elected lawmakers decided that you are entitled to.

Today, the largest corporations in the world require you to “agree” to binding arbitration before you can conduct business with them: your monopolistic ISP or cable operator probably does.

As do Walmart, Uber, and Amazon (and not coincidentally, all three have crowded out all the competitors you might choose to take your business to if this strikes you as unfair).

In 2019, SCOTUS ratified the practice.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/13/business/binding-arbitration-consumers/index.html

81 out of the Fortune 100 non-negotiably require binding arbitration if you want to conduct business with them. “Arbitration is often confidential and the outcome doesn’t enter the public record” – if you get screwed you won’t know if it’s a one-off or a pattern.

This is especially pernicious in the realm of US health care. There is ONE pain specialist in all of Southern California that my insurer covers who doesn’t require binding arbitration. When I took my daughter to the ER with a broken bone, they threatened not to treat her unless we signed an arbitration waiver – and that ER is now owned by a PE firm that bought every medical practice in a 10mi radius and now they all do it.

We are literally replacing public courts with private corporate justice, where the “judge” is paid by the company that maimed you, or ripped you off, or killed you.



I’m coming to Kelowna! (permalink)

I’ve never been to Kelwona, BC or anywhere in BC apart from Victoria and Vancouver, so I am SO TOTALLY EXCITED to be appearing in Kelowna for Canada Reads on Mar 5. Please come and say hello! (it’s free!)

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/cbc-radio-presents-in-conversation-with-cory-doctorow-tickets-96154415445

The event is a collaboration between the Kelowna Public Library and CBC Books, and I’m being emceed and interviewed by Sarah Penton. It’s going to be recorded for airing later as well (I’ll be sure to fold it into my podcast, which you can get here: http://craphound.com/podcast/)



A flat earther commits suicide by conspiracy theory (permalink)

A(nother) flat-earther has tried to prove that the Earth is disc-shaped by launching a homemade rocket. This one (“Mad” Mike Hughes) killed himself by pancaking into the desert.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/daredevil-mad-mike-hughes-dies-homemade-rocket-launch-filmed-tv-n1141286

This is awful. Jokes about “Darwin Awards” don’t change that.

When you scratch a conspiracist, you generally find two things:

  1. Someone who knows chapter-&-verse about real conspiracies (e.g. “If you think antivax is so outlandish, let me tell you about the Sackler family”)
  2. Someone who has been traumatized by conspiracies (belief that the levees were dynamited during Katrina to drown Black neighborhoods are often embraced by people whose family were flooded out in 58 when the levees in Tupelo were dynamited to drown Black neighborhoods).

A belief that the aerospace industry engages in coverups and conspiracies is not, in and of itself, irrational. Aerospace is the land of conspiracies and coverups. Look at the Boeing 737 Max!

Conspiracies are an epiphenomenon of market concentration. “Two may keep a secret if one of them is dead”: the ability to conspire is a collective action problem, wherein linear increases in the number of conspirators yield geometric increases in the likelihood of defections. When an industry is reduced to 3-5 giants, the likelihood is that every top exec at each company worked as a top exec at one or more of the others (to say nothing of the likelihood of intercompany friendships, marriages, etc). Moreover, an industry that concentrated will almost certainly be regulated by its own former execs, as they are likely the only ones qualified to understand its workings.

Many of us were appalled by the sight of the nation’s tech leaders gathered around a table at Trump Tower after the inauguration.

But we should have been even more alarmed by the realization that all the leaders of the tech industry fit around a single table.

We are living in both a golden age of conspiratorial thinking and of actual conspiracies. The conspiracy theories don’t necessarily refer to the actual conspiracies, but “conspiracy” is a plausible idea with a lot of explanatory power in 2020.

We spend a lot of time wondering about how we can fix the false beliefs that people have, but some of our focus needs to be on reducing the plausibility of conspiracy itself. Make industries more competitive and diverse, make regulators more accountable.

Put out the fires, sure, but clear away the brush so that they don’t keep reigniting.

I strongly recommend Anna Merlan’s REPUBLIC OF LIES for more.

https://boingboing.net/2019/09/21/from-opioids-to-antivax.html



This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago: Labour MP Brian Sedgemore excoriates his own government’s terror laws in the speech of his lifetime: https://web.archive.org/web/20050227035611/http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmhansrd/cm050223/debtext/50223-21.htm

#10yrsago: How ducks, Nazis and themeparks gave America its color TV transition: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/feb/23/digital-switchover-bbc-spectrum

#5yrsago: Alex Stamos, then CSO of Yahoo, publicly calls out then-NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers on crypto backdoors: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/02/yahoo-exec-goes-mano-a-mano-with-nsa-director-over-crypo-backdoors/

#5yrsago: A chronology of the Canadian Conservative Party’s war on science under PM Stephen Harper: https://scienceblogs.com/confessions/2013/05/20/the-canadian-war-on-science-a-long-unexaggerated-devastating-chronological-indictment

#5yrsago: Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s movie about Edward Snowden, wins the Academy Award for best documentary: https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/edward-snowden-congratulates-laura-poitras-winning-best-documentary-oscar-citizenfour

#1yrago: Every AOC staffer will earn a living wage: https://www.rollcall.com/2019/02/22/alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-call-for-a-living-wage-starts-in-her-office/

#1yrago: Richard Sackler’s “verbal gymnastics” in defending his family’s role in killing 200,000 Americans with opiods: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/02/sackler-behind-oxycontin-fraud-offered-twisted-mind-boggling-defense/

#1yrago: German neo-Nazis use Qanon memes to signal-boost their messages: https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-fringe-groups-are-using-qanon-to-amplify-their-wild-messages

#1yrago: French courts fine UBS €3.7b for helping French plutes dodge their taxes: https://www.thelocal.fr/20190220/breaking-french-court-hits-swiss-bank-ubs-with-37-billion-fine-in-french-tax-fraud-case

#1yrago: Apple to close down its east Texas stores to avoid having any nexus with America’s worst patent court: https://www.macrumors.com/2019/02/22/apple-closing-stores-in-eastern-district-texas/

#1yrago: Small business cancels its unusably slow Frontier internet service, Frontier sticks them with a $4,300 cancellation fee: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/02/frontier-demands-4300-cancellation-fee-despite-horribly-slow-internet/

#1yrago: Fast food millionaire complains that social media makes kids feel so entitled that they are no longer willing to work for free: https://amp.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/muffin-break-boss-fury-over-youth-who-wont-work-unpaid/news-story/57607ea9a1bbe52ba7746cff031306f2

#1yrago: Apps built with Facebook’s SDK shovel incredible quantities of incredibly sensitive data into Facebook’s gaping maw: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/22/facebook-receives-personal-health-data-from-apps-wsj.html

#1yrago: Super-high end prop horror-movie eyeballs, including kits to make your own: https://fourthsealstudios.com/

#1yrago: EU advances its catastrophic Copyright Directive without fixing any of its most dangerous flaws: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/02/european-governments-approve-controversial-new-copyright-law/



Colophon (permalink)

Today’s top sources: Four Short Links (https://www.oreilly.com/feed/four-short-links), Slashdot (https://slashdot.org), Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/”).

Hugo nominators! My story “Unauthorized Bread” is eligible in the Novella category and you can read it free on Ars Technica: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2020/01/unauthorized-bread-a-near-future-tale-of-refugees-and-sinister-iot-appliances/

Upcoming appearances:

Currently writing: I just finished a short story, “The Canadian Miracle,” for MIT Tech Review. It’s a story set in the world of my next novel, “The Lost Cause,” a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. I’m getting geared up to start work on the novel now, though the timing is going to depend on another pending commission (I’ve been solicited by an NGO) to write a short story set in the world’s prehistory.

Currently reading: I finished Andrea Bernstein’s “American Oligarchs” this week; it’s a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I’m getting really into Anna Weiner’s memoir about tech, “Uncanny Valley.” I just loaded Matt Stoller’s “Goliath” onto my underwater MP3 player and I’m listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Persuasion, Adaptation, and the Arms Race for Your Attention: https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/02/10/persuasion-adaptation-and-the-arms-race-for-your-attention/

Upcoming books: “Poesy the Monster Slayer” (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_medium=socialpost&utm_term=na-poesycorypreorder&utm_content=na-preorder-buynow&utm_campaign=9781626723627

(we’re having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

“Attack Surface”: The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

“Little Brother/Homeland”: A reissue omnibus edition with a very special, s00per s33kr1t intro.

/ / News

Today’s links

  1. Tax Justice Network publishes a new global Financial Secrecy Index: US and UK, neck-and-neck
  2. What Marc Davis lifted from the Addams Family while designing the Haunted Mansion: Amateurs plagiarize, artists steal
  3. ICANN should demand to see the secret financial docs in the .ORG selloff: at least it’s an Ethos
  4. Wells Fargo will pay $3b for 2 million acts of fraud: they shoulda got the corporate death penalty
  5. This day in history: 2019, 2015, 2010
  6. Colophon: Recent publications, current writing projects, upcoming appearances, current reading


Tax Justice Network publishes a new global Financial Secrecy Index (permalink)

The Tax Justice Network just published its latest Financial Secrecy Index, the leading empirical index of global financial secrecy policies. The US continues to make a dismal showing, as does the UK (factoring in overseas territories).

https://fsi.taxjustice.net/en/

Both Holland and Switzerland backslid this year.

Important to remember that “bad governance” scandals in poor countries (like the multibillion-dollar Angolaleaks scandal) involve rich financial secrecy havens as laundries for looted national treasure.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/19/isabel-dos-santos-revealed-africa-richest-woman-2bn-empire-luanda-leaks-angola

As Tax Justice breaks it down: “The secrecy world creates a criminogenic hothouse for multiple evils including fraud, tax cheating, escape from financial regulations, embezzlement, insider dealing, bribery, money laundering, and plenty more. It provides multiple ways for insiders to extract wealth at the expense of societies, creating political impunity and undermining the healthy ‘no taxation without representation’ bargain that has underpinned the growth of accountable modern nation states. Many poorer countries, deprived of tax and haemorrhaging capital into secrecy jurisdictions, rely on foreign aid handouts.”

Talk about getting you coming and going! First we make bank helping your corrupt leaders rob you blind, then we loan you money so you can keep the lights on and get fat on the interest (and force you to sell off your looted, ailing state industries as “economic reforms”).

The Taxcast, which is the Network’s podcast, has a great special edition in which the index’s key researchers explain their work. It’s always a good day when a new Taxcast drops.

https://www.taxjustice.net/2020/02/20/financial-secrecy-index-who-are-the-worlds-worst-offenders-the-tax-justice-network-podcast-special-february-2020/



What Marc Davis lifted from the Addams Family while designing the Haunted Mansion (permalink)

It’s always a good day — a GREAT day — when the Long Forgotten Haunted Mansion blog does a new post, but today’s post, on the influence of the Addams Family TV show on Mansion co-designer Mark Davis? ::Chef’s Kiss::

https://longforgottenhauntedmansion.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-addams-family-and-marc-davis.html

It’s clear that Davis was using Addams’s comics as reference, but, as Long Forgotten shows, the Davis sketches and concepts are straight up lifted from the TV show: “Amateurs plagiarize, artists steal.”

Some of these lifts are indisputable.

“Finally, it’s possible that Davis took a further cue from the insanely long sweater Morticia is knitting in ‘Fester’s Punctured Romance’ (Oct 2, 1964), but in this case I wouldn’t insist upon it.”

Likewise, from the TV show, “Bruno” the white bear rug that periodically bites people was obviously the inspiration for this Davis sketch for the Mansion. Long Forgotten is less certain about “Ophelia,” but I think it’s pretty clear where Davis was getting his ideas from here.

Davis was an unabashed plunderer and we are all better for it! “We’ve seen many other examples of Marc Davis taking ideas from here, there, and anywhere he could find them, but not many other examples of multiple inspiration from a single source.”



ICANN should demand to see the secret financial docs in the .ORG selloff (permalink)

ISOC — the nonprofit set up to oversee the .ORG registry — decided to sell off this asset (which they were given for free, along with $5M to cover setup expenses) to a mysterious private equity fund called Ethos Capital.

Some of Ethos’s backers are known (Republican billionaire families like the Romneys and the Perots) but much of its financing remains in the shadows. We do know that ICANN employees who help tee up the sale now work for Ethos, in a corrupt bit of self-dealing.

The deal was quietly announced and looked like a lock, but then public interest groups rose up to demand an explanation. Not only could Ethos expose nonprofits to unlimited rate-hikes (thanks to ICANN’s changes to its rules), they could do much, much worse.

If a .ORG registrant dropped its domain, Ethos could sell access to misdirected emails and domain lookups – so if you watchdog private equity funds and get destroyed by vexation litigation, Ethos could sell your bouncing email to the billionaires who crushed you.

More simply, Ethos could sell the kind of censorship-as-a-service it currently sells through its other registry, Donuts, which charges “processing fees” to corrupt governments and bullying corporations who want to censor the web by claiming libel or copyright infringement.

Ethos offered ISOC $1.135b for the sale, but $360m of that will come from a loan that .ORG will have to pay back, a millstone around its neck, dragging it down. Debt-loading healthy business as a means of bleeding them dry is a tried-and-true PE tactic – it’s what did in Toys R Us, Sears, and many other firms. The PE barons get a fortune, everyone else gets screwed.

The interest on .ORG’s loan will suck up $24m/year — TWO THIRDS of the free money that .ORG generates. .ORG is a crazily profitable nonprofit – it charges dollars to provide a service that costs fractional pennies, after all. In response to getting slapped around by some Members of Congress, the Pennsylvania AG, and millions of netizens, Ethos has made a promise to limit prices increases…for a while. And they say that they’ll be kept honest by the nonbinding recommendations of an “advisory council” whose members Ethos will appoint and who will serve at Ethos’s pleasure.

In a letter to ICANN, EFF and Americans for Financial Reform have called for transparency on the financing behind the sale: “hidden costs, loan servicing fees, and inducements to insiders.”

https://www.eff.org/press/releases/eff-seeks-disclosure-secret-financing-details-behind-11-billion-org-sale-asks-ftc



Wells Fargo will pay $3b for 2 million acts of fraud (permalink)

Wells Fargo stole from at least two million of its customers, pressuring its low-level employees to open fake accounts in their names, firing employees who refused (refuseniks were also added to industry-wide blacklists created to track crooked bankers). These fake accounts ran up fees for bank customers, including penalties, etc. In some cases, the damage to the victims’ credit ratings was so severe that they were turned down for jobs, unable to get house loans or leases, etc.

The execs who oversaw these frauds had plenty of red flags, including their own board members asking why the fuck their spouses had been sent mysterious Wells Fargo credit cards they’d never signed up for. Though these execs paid fines, they got to keep MILLIONS from this fraud (which was only one of dozens of grifts Wells Fargo engaged in this century, including stealing from small businesses, homeowners, military personnel, car borrowers, etc). Some of them may never work in banking again, but they’re all millionaires for life.

Now, Wells Fargo has settled with the DoJ for $3b, admitting wrongdoing and submitting to several years of oversight. That’s a good start, but it’s a bad finish.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51594117

The largest bank in America was, for DECADES, a criminal enterprise, preying on Americans of every description. It should no longer exist. It should be broken into constituent pieces, under new management. There would be enormous collateral damage from this (just as the family of a murderer suffers when he is made to face the consequences of his crimes). But what about the collateral damage to everyone who is savaged by a similarly criminal bank in the future, emboldened by Wells Fargo’s impunity?

Wells Fargo is paying a fine, but will have NO criminal charges filed against it.

https://newsroom.wf.com/press-release/corporate-and-financial/wells-fargo-reaches-settlements-resolve-outstanding-doj-and

If you or I stole from TWO MILLION people, we would not be permitted to pay a fine and walk away.

“I’ll believe corporations are people when the government gives one the death penalty.”



This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago: Kottke goes full-time https://kottke.org/05/02/kottke-micropatron

#15yrsago: New Zealand’s regulator publishes occupational safety guide for sex workers: https://web.archive.org/web/20050909001954/http://www.osh.dol.govt.nz/order/catalogue/pdf/sexindustry.pdf

#10yrsago: Principal who spied on child through webcam mistook a Mike n Ike candy for drugs: https://reason.com/2010/02/20/lower-pervian-school-district/

#10yrsago: School where principal spied on students through their webcams had mandatory laptop policies, treated jailbreaking as an expellable offense https://web.archive.org/web/20100726204521/https://strydehax.blogspot.com/2010/02/spy-at-harrington-high.html

#10yrsago: Parents file lawsuit against principal who spied on students through webcams: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/pennsylvania-school-webcam-students-spying/story?id=9905488

#1yrago: Cybermercenary firm with ties to the UAE want the capability to break Firefox encryption https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/02/cyber-mercenary-groups-shouldnt-be-trusted-your-browser-or-anywhere-else

#1yrago: Fraudulent anti-Net Neutrality comments to the FCC traced back to elite DC lobbying firm https://gizmodo.com/how-an-investigation-of-fake-fcc-comments-snared-a-prom-1832788658



Colophon (permalink)

Today’s top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/).

Hugo nominators! My story “Unauthorized Bread” is eligible in the Novella category and you can read it free on Ars Technica: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2020/01/unauthorized-bread-a-near-future-tale-of-refugees-and-sinister-iot-appliances/

Upcoming appearances:

Currently writing: I just finished a short story, “The Canadian Miracle,” for MIT Tech Review. It’s a story set in the world of my next novel, “The Lost Cause,” a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. I’m getting geared up to start work on the novel now, though the timing is going to depend on another pending commission (I’ve been solicited by an NGO) to write a short story set in the world’s prehistory.

Currently reading: I finished Andrea Bernstein’s “American Oligarchs” this week; it’s a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I’m getting really into Anna Weiner’s memoir about tech, “Uncanny Valley.” I just loaded Matt Stoller’s “Goliath” onto my underwater MP3 player and I’m listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Persuasion, Adaptation, and the Arms Race for Your Attention: https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/02/10/persuasion-adaptation-and-the-arms-race-for-your-attention/

Upcoming books: “Poesy the Monster Slayer” (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_medium=socialpost&utm_term=na-poesycorypreorder&utm_content=na-preorder-buynow&utm_campaign=9781626723627

(we’re having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

“Attack Surface”: The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

“Little Brother/Homeland”: A reissue omnibus edition with a very special, s00per s33kr1t intro.