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October 21, 2023

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To me, the problem is not that we have to pay for things, it is the underlying greed that permeates society. It's hard to escape it, you think you will stop when you have enough, but enough is never enough.

My sense is that, for a lot of people, there really is an "enough." The problem is the subset of people for whom there is no enough.

For example, most of us here probably could take on a second job**, and thus earn more money. After all, lots of poor people do, of necessity, do exactly that. But we don't. Because we really do feel that we have enough. Or, at least, close enough to make the additional effort not worth it.

No argument that some people don't grok "enough." But I submit they are pathological, rather than normal.

Meanwhile, the sheer extent of the personal data we happily hand over to them in exchange for using their services for free would make people from the year 2000 drop their flip phones in shock.

Perhaps the author does. Certainly a lot of people do. On the other hand, some of us take a moment to block cookies (and clear them regularly). It means that we lose the "benefit" of targetted ads. But that just makes it easier to ignore them.

Just like, when watching a YouTube video, I routinely click "Skip ads" as soon as I can. Others, I suspect, don't bother. Or maybe they like ads -- there must be an audience somewhere for the Shopping Channel, after all.

** Or, if retired, we could take on a job regardless.

Some years ago, I ran across a streaming channel that consisted entirely of "movie trailers".

It's probably still out there, but I lost track of it.

Now, "movie trailers" are indeed ads, but I found the channel very entertaining! Likely because for a large fraction of movies, they make the trailers by distilling the few BEST minutes of content into the trailer. The rest of the movie? Meh.

And every now and then you find out about a movie that you want to watch, and would not be aware of without the trailer.

But the pop-up ads for things you bought ONCE, years ago, to solve a particular problem that is now solved? Worthless.

I'd never heard the expression "civic tech" before this article in today's Grauniad.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/oct/23/why-is-elon-musk-attacking-wikipedia-because-its-very-existence-offends-him

It's a short read.

As the Nobel Peace prize winner Maria Ressa has warned, online misinformation could end democracy as we know it. So, the sight of Elon Musk charging towards Wikipedia with his trademark guile and delicacy was so predictable that it was almost relaxing. He saw a collective resource that people prized and he wanted to hurt it.

ElMu is a comic-book villain.

"ElMu is a comic-book villain."

If it's a Zippy the Pinhead comic, yes.

The writer's solution, that we just have to realize we need to pay for things sometimes, seems a bit off. To me, the problem is not that we have to pay for things, it is the underlying greed that permeates society. It's hard to escape it, you think you will stop when you have enough, but enough is never enough.

"Underlying greed" lies under or behind almost every topic I try to write something about here. Housing. The health care system. Income inequality (intimately entwined with the first two). Working conditions. And on and on. (There are exceptions, of course: bodily autonomy comes to mind.)

But as for paying for things -- I would gladly pay something for content on the internet, but no one has figured out a global way to do that. And even if someone did, we'd have the same privacy issues that we have right now, if from a different direction.

Suppose I click a link to an article in the Orlando Sentinel. I go there, and they won't let me read it without paying. There are ways around the paywall at a lot of places, sneaky ones and "honest" ones like getting a login (which I have for e.g. the WaPo). Some sites are locked down tighter.

I'm not ever, in the history of the universe, going to pay for a subscription to the Orlando Sentinel, I don't even pay for one for my local newspaper. Nor are 99.999999% of the other people who run across that link.

But if there was a system that tracked my clicks, and billed me some "global subscription" amount and distributed it to the sites I've used, I would go along with that. (Presuming the price was reasonable. Ha ha.)

Again, the problem is that it would still require tracking....

I think someone mentioned a consortium of small newspapers that is already trying to do this -- pay a fee that is distributed amongst all of them, and get access to all of them. But it's almost impossible to imagine something like that being implemented across the board.

YouTube seems to be cracking down on ad blockers.... Sigh.

Micropaymemts have been possible for a long time, but AFAIK never seriously tried, for whatever reason, likely the rate of return isn't sexy enough. Seriously, the only way I see it happening is if the Post Office did it.

The Internet, like personal computers before it, was embraced as a hobbyist pastime by a subculture fascinated by the possibilities (yeah, DARPA/colleges/hosts.txt/yadayada. I'm talking about the days of Mosaic, Netscape and Internet Exploder and entering boolean searches into AltaVista or Ask Jeeves). It's popularity doomed it to be monetized, and it's sheer size and scope makes it virtually impossible for some random web site to even be visible, when search engines are the closest thing to a gatekeeper. It's close to a miracle that some of its founding ideals are still in place.

Information wants to be free was the most corruptive hustle since trickle-down tax cut economics. But expectations have been set, and too many people are happy with free shitty content, with ads attached.

Micropayments are being used all over, it's just that a bunch of rentiers believe that they have a right to vacuum up the majority of the money that should be going from the people wanting the creative products to the people doing the creative labor.

Couple this with the finance people's deep and abiding faith in the doctrine of economic growth and you get a lot of wasted potential as good products and services get shut down to make room for enshitified versions with higher ROI and less value to the customer.

Web 1.0 would still work if all us Web 1.0 types wandered off into our own domains again and talked and sold stuff to each other without all the sizzle and the rentiers. The one real bottleneck is convincing the banks to loan money to smaller companies that are focused on serving customers over delivering big returns. It's this last thing that is killing off microbreweries and companies like Kitsbow that produce excellent goods domestically in small numbers, who are looking to grow slowly and serve a niche market.

It's this last thing that is killing off...

People's ability to have housing. People's ability to get good (or any) health care.

"Web 1.0 would still work if all us Web 1.0 types wandered off into our own domains again"

You can have my Web 0.9 when you pry it from my cold, dead keyboard. Everything after that is just glitz and dancing clowns.

Pardon, there are some clouds I need to yell at.

The one real bottleneck is convincing the banks to loan money to smaller companies that are focused on serving customers over delivering big returns. It's this last thing that is killing off microbreweries and companies like Kitsbow that produce excellent goods domestically in small numbers, who are looking to grow slowly and serve a niche market.

I'm not sure it is any more difficult than it ever was to convince a bank to lend to a small business. They never were all that keen, and still aren't.

In fact biggest change would appear to be that you now can build a viable niche business, even though the number of local, physically local, customers is infinitesimal. Potential customers may find it difficult to track down your website; advertising/word-of-mouth is still necessary. But you now have the possibility of a national, or even global, customer base -- something that was inconceivable, outside the highest end luxury brands, pre-Internet.

Here's the company I was thinking about, and the circumstances they were facing:

https://bikepacking.com/news/kitsbow-is-closing-its-doors/

Lots of small companies that have tried to become more circular and sustainable in their business model have found themselves pinched off the vine as they try to reach a more mainstream audience. Their supporters don't have enough capital, and the capitalists don't want to give up faster growth for circularity and sustainability.

The one real bottleneck is convincing the banks to loan money to smaller companies that are focused on serving customers over delivering big returns.

Banks making loans have no interest in big returns for the company, they just care about getting their money back. It's equity investors who want a big upside.

The economics of making relatively small corporate loans have always been unfavourable - the profit to be made in interest doesn't pay for much research into the soundness of the company. Perhaps branch bank managers used to know more about local borrowers, and have more decision-making authority, than they do now. But that had its own problems. (I have Captain Mainwaring in mind.)

Crowdfunding is the way to go.

Speaking of "third on the list", Tom Emmer seems to be the least bad R candidate for speaker so far. I wouldn't hate it if the Ds did a deal to elect him. Should I?

Pro Bono: I am not very immersed in House shenanigans, either now or ordinarily, but I don't see how/why the Ds should do any kind of "deal" with people who can't make promises because they're not united among themselves, and probably won't keep any promises anyhow.

Headline on CNN right now about Emmer: "Tom Emmer cast doubt on the 2020 election and supported lawsuit to throw election to Trump."

Seems to me that making a deal with them legitimizes them and all their hateful and hate-filled idiocies. Also facilitates their agenda, which is to basically overthrow our democracy, such as it is, and dismantle a lot of the federal government if they could get themselves into a position to do it (via the budget, as I understand it).

It's a measure of the degree of across the board looniness that you're not asking, "Why don't a few relatively sane Rs make a deal with the Ds?"

Because they're all about equally loony, or under the spell, or thumb, of the loony wing, we should indulge them??

/rant, and not meant personally, just that I keep seeing this question being asked

But whether you or I or anyone "should" hate a deal if it gets made -- I will readily concede that the Ds in Congress know more about their business and situation than I do.....

Emmer did vote to certify the election results on January 6-7th, unlike the other R candidates so far. It's not much of a bar, but it's something.

Emmer is pro-life, favors letting pharmacists make their own moral decisions about filling prescriptions, favors repealing the ACA, and favors expanding domestic oil and gas extraction. He's only mildly insane on the election conspiracy front, and did vote to certify the Electoral College results.

What sort of deal are you thinking about? How are you going to make him keep any promises? I suppose that second question applies to any Republican nominee doing a deal with the Democrats.

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." --

Napoleon

I'm so old. I remember in 1989 or 1990 buying a piece of stereo gear from a guy in Wisconsin through a Usenet group. I mailed him a check and he shipped me the dynamic noise canceller. Both of us simply assumed that if either of us cheated, the other could ruin the cheater's reputation in the Usenet group.

One of the things that concerns me about today's internet is that we haven't really settled on any sort of policy/policies regarding anonymity. I don't have anything constructive to say on the topic, it just makes me nervous. I personally oppose anonymity along the lines of "If I say what I really believe in a public forum on the internet and my employer finds it, they will fire me immediately. So I need to be able to speak anonymously." Free speech comes with consequences, good and bad -- live with them or don't speak on public.

favors letting pharmacists make their own moral decisions about filling prescriptions

For some reason, this makes me angrier than almost anything else they want, even though in the big picture it's not remotely one of the more major headlines.

I think it's because it legalizes a direct one-on-one control of one person's life by another person's moral/religious judgments. Fuck that. (I am suppressing a lot more cursing....) You don't want to hand out legal drugs legally prescribed by a licensed physician? Find another damned profession.

Followup about pharmacists: it's one kind of bad when legislators legislate *their* morality (or misogyny, or whatever it all is) for *everyone." It's another when they allow religiously fanatical petty tyrants to individually legislate their preferences about other people's activities that are otherwise legal.

Free speech comes with consequences, good and bad -- live with them or don't speak on public. I don't have any constructive to say either, but I think it's a very hard question. It's not just employers -- it's violent ex-partners, etc. It's mobs of internet haters (or bots) coming after you, and/or your family. I don't think it's an easy question to answer.

You don't want to hand out legal drugs legally prescribed by a licensed physician? Find another damned profession.

Emphatically seconded, with many inventive swear words.

Seems to me that making a deal with them legitimizes them and all their hateful and hate-filled idiocies.

Did we legitimize Stalin by making a deal with him? Or did we just deal with an immediate and critical problem (Hitler) using the tool that was available?

Sure, it would be better to get critical stuff done without having to deal with any of them. But for the moment, that's not an available option.

Hmmm. I gather Emmer has just dropped out. The plot thickens....

Unfortunately, from the radicals' POV the current situation is the 2nd best they could wish for. Their ideal would be that they themselves would be in charge. But among their primary goals is to completely block the proper functioning of the House in order to sabotage the federal government. They wanted the shutdown* and kicked out McCarthy because he was unwilling to do that (that he also used Dem votes for that just added to the fundamental crime of trying to be constructive not destructive while there's a Dem in the WH). As long as there is no speaker they can hope to get what they want (and also to prevent help for Ukraine) by default (pun welcome, although not originally intended).
And I fear the majority of the House GOP is too fearful of primaries to do even the minimum right thing by minimally compromising with the Dems.

*and ideally even government default on obligations (in particular debt service)

Sure, it would be better to get critical stuff done without having to deal with any of them. But for the moment, that's not an available option.

It's not at all clear that we're at the point yet where there aren't any other options, or better paths or strategies on the part of the Ds, especially if the Rs keep digging the hole deeper.

PS I don't think the parallel with Stalin/Hitler is even valid, but I'm too preoccupied at the moment to sort out why with any clarity. Quickly, though, we and Stalin had a common enemy and a common goal: to defeat that enemy. I don't think the House Ds and Rs have any common goals. The Rs want to break the system. Bailing them out of this mess just helps them in that endeavor.

I don't see any margin whatsoever in the Ds supporting any GOP nominee. At this point it is clear that the purporeted institutionalists in the GOP are not willing to break with their caucus for the sake of the institution. I'm not going to frame that as party over country because I allow for the possibility that those purported institutionalists are convinced that the Ds are more of a threat to the country than are their own extremists on the right.

All I will say is that I think that this moment is a GOP loyalty test for the institutionalists, and that they will have to actually break away to stop the institutional saboteurs. I'm not entirely convinced that they will.

If McCarthy couldn't actually achieve the compromises that he pledged himself to, I don't see how anyone else on that side of the aisle would expect to do better without some sort of irrevocable break.

Get five GOP institutionalists together and decide on one of them to nominate. Tell the caucus that if they do not agree than all five will vote for Jeffries in the next Speaker vote.

If they have not yet reached that point in their strategy, then there is no reason to expect anything better out of supporting a "moderate," because there is no actual leverage for a change in situation.

This is not an ideological position. This is just a tactical assessment.

Quickly, though, we and Stalin had a common enemy and a common goal: to defeat that enemy. I don't think the House Ds and Rs have any common goals. The Rs want to break the system. Bailing them out of this mess just helps them in that endeavor.

I think this is clear enough and that there’s no need to sort it out any further.

Imagine that Stalin was aligned with Hitler and that the US teamed up with him anyway, because that would be more analogous.

Thanks hsh, and it sends me back to this from wj's comment:

Sure, it would be better to get critical stuff done without having to deal with any of them. But for the moment, that's not an available option.

This makes me think about goals. The comment seems to imply that the “goal” is having a speaker, further implying that if only there was a speaker, critical stuff could get done.

That’s the laughable part. The Rs don’t want to get anything at all of what we would see as critical stuff done. They just want to slash the budget to ribbons, legislate against people they don’t like, stop supporting Ukraine, etc. etc. Again, why help them? I am not good at strategizing or negotiating, but I am pretty sure that the D leadership, including that sly old legislative veteran Dark Brandon, know that any critical stuff that gets done is going to get done in spite of the Rs and not in any kind of collaboration or partnership with them.

From nbcnews dot com:

GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik of New York posted on X that a third ballot has begun, with two remaining candidates: Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida and Mike Johnson of Louisiana.

Reps. Mark Green and Roger Williams were eliminated in the second round.

Well-known, capable, eminent leaders one and all.

I would call it comedy hour, but I'm afraid it's being staged without any humor at all.

People should have the right to express their opinions anonymously since you can be fired for expressing them.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/elife-editor-michael-eisen-says-he-was-fired-for-sharing-onion-article-on-gaza

If we lived in a world where this wasn’t true, I might reconsider. But many people are bullies.

Washington Post editorial board agrees with wj. Commenters land hard.

I only have a login, not a subscription, so I don't think that will work as a gift link. You can just take my word for it. ;-)

It's not at all clear that we're at the point yet where there aren't any other options, or better paths or strategies on the part of the Ds, especially if the Rs keep digging the hole deeper.

But here's the thing. The Democrats in the House are not a majority. So, if anything is to get done in the next year (as opposed to just shutting down the Federal government for the duration), some kind of deal with at least a handful of Republicans is necessary. No matter how deep a hole the House Republicans dig, that remains true. That hole will likely help next November; but that's not the only factor here.

Are there that many Republicans that you (or any others here) do NOT find objectionable on multiple fronts? (I can't say I do. I may have fewer objections, or less intense ones. But the number who aren't objectionable on multiple fronts is still tiny.) If not, a deal with objectionable people** is the only kind available. Even if the deal is nothing more than just being absent, to get Jeffries elected Speaker and then at certain moments going forward.

We may, as you say, not be at that point just yet. But I'm not seeing any way we don't get there eventually. And sooner rather than later.

** I admit my Stalin analogy was over the top. But the basic idea, the you sometimes have higher priorities than avoiding working with bad people, remains.

The Rs don’t want to get anything at all of what we would see as critical stuff done. They just want to slash the budget to ribbons, legislate against people they don’t like, stop supporting Ukraine, etc. etc.

Collectively, that may be true. But we don't need to deal with the collective. All we need are a handful who are not bent solely on destruction. And that's not impossible. It may be improbable that there are enough who will do what's right, once all other options for them are exhausted. But given that Jordan went down in flames, I'd bet there are more than enough.

Washington Post editorial board agrees with wj.

I don't think they do. They seem to say that it's up to Democrats to bail the Republicans out. I definitely don't agree.

What I would say is that, eventually, the Democrats will have to work with some Republicans to bail the country out.

The Democrats are ready to work with some Republicans. Had McCarthy actually proposed working with the Democrats to fulfill his promises and brought a few of those putative institutionalist along, we'd already have been over this and the government would have been funded. The Rs have tried to do everything on their own behind closed doors.

That has to stop. Enabling them to elect a speaker won't stop that. They will remain hostages of idiots like Gaetz and Bannon until and unless they stop the unilateralism and attempt a good-faith bipartisan resolution.

I don't know what the WaPo editorial board is thinking. That opinion sounds reasonable, but it is entirely disconnected from any actual change. There is no leverage there. At best it puts us right back where we were with McCarthy, with another Speaker unable and unwilling to actually deliver a funding bill.

No way to crack that nut without a public break, and bipartisanship.

Thus spake the LOrd: If I find five righteous men in GOPdom, I will spare GOPdom and Demorrah amd not destroy the parties and their House.
And there was great weeping and gnashing of teeth for there were fewer than three and those only when there was a secret ballot. But the Gaetz of Hell rejoiced.

What I would say is that, eventually, the Democrats will have to work with some Republicans to bail the country out.

This is a truism, and therefore meaningless.

If this were framed as "eventually, some Rs will have to come to their senses and work with the Ds for the good of the country," it might make more sense.

Of course, with the current numbers in the House, the Ds can't do anything by themselves. But your framing assumes that any Rs at all will ever agree to help bail the country out, and then keep their promises. Let a few of them vote for Jeffries, and change parties. Then this formulation might mean something.

I just can't even envision what you imagine is going to happen. A few Ds do something like vote present, so that an R can actually be elected speaker? And then the Rs proceed with their agenda, which is, for the good of the country, to destroy the country?

It's just not up to the Ds to facilitate what the Rs want. Under no scenario that I can imagine does the D's bailing out the Rs result in what would be "for the good of the country."

Aiy.

And/or, what nous said.

I just can't even envision what you imagine is going to happen. A few Ds do something like vote present, so that an R can actually be elected speaker? And then the Rs proceed with their agenda, which is, for the good of the country, to destroy the country?

I, in turn, cannot envision what you think is going to happen.

My best guess is that a few Rs will absent themselves, rather than actually be there to vote "Present". (Probably at the last minute, i.e. once the vote has started. Because, if they tip their hand, I suspect the nihilists would refuse to start.) And thus get Jeffries elected Speaker. Will they expect to get something in return? Well, altruism seems too much to expect, at least of enough of them, so probably. What the quid pro quo will be, I couldn't say.

I feel that the goalposts have been moved several times, not deliberately, and given the middle of the night nature of the back and forth, I haven't been as good at following it as I should have been.

It started with Pro Bono askiing whether he should hate the idea of Ds helping to elect Emmer and then Stalin came into it ... It's a very different thing to talk about Ds helping elect Emmer vs Rs helping to elect Jeffries.

I hope at least that much is clear.

And/but I'm going to leave it alone now.

Emmer is out: Trump said The Word, his followers responded, and Emmer dropped out of the running.

The Next Best Hope (R) is Johnson of Louisiana, a garden-variety GOP extremist (insurrectionist, misogynist, bigot - but not out outright child molester or enabler of rape, so he has that going for him). He would no sooner "work with Democrats" then he would vote to certify an election that a Democrat won.

I'm confounded by people who think the Democrats need to bail out the GOP "in order to get the government moving again," when it is perfectly obvious that the GOP will not pass a CR in November, will not pass aid to Ukraine, but will continue to investigate/impeach as many Biden Administration officials as possible.

Tell me again why the Democrats should enable that.

I'm confounded by people who think the Democrats need to bail out the GOP "in order to get the government moving again," when it is perfectly obvious that the GOP will not pass a CR in November, will not pass aid to Ukraine, but will continue to investigate/impeach as many Biden Administration officials as possible.

Tell me again why the Democrats should enable that.

So, if you're right and the Republicans will not pass a CR in November, when will they? (Given their ongoing ineptitude, there's no way actual budget and spending bills get done instead. Probably ever this Congress.) Or will the government just shut down until January 2025?

"Or will the government just shut down until January 2025?"

Looking like a very likely outcome. And no different than voting down a CR, I should point out.

Shutting down the Federal Government is something, I might add, that no few GOPers are actively rooting for. (Including the Gang of Eight, I think.) They believe they can get teh Democrats blamed for it, and there are enough "both-sides!" enablers in the MSM to make it happen.

Hopefully, Biden will be able to keep the lights on via Executive Order.

Given their ongoing ineptitude

It is not ineptitude. It is sabotage, insurrection, January 6 in a different form.

From a tweet embedded in Anne Laurie's latest post at BJ:

Eleven candidates in one day. Only two from non-slave states

Or, the Civil War, reopened in a different form.

Hopefully, Biden will be able to keep the lights on via Executive Order.

The problem is that pesky line from the Constitution:

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law...
Come Nov 17, there will be no appropriations (with a handful of noticeable exceptions like SS benefits, which are permanently appropriated). Less usual, no DOD appropriation has been made this time. The armed services will be required to keep on working, but won't be getting paid. It won't matter how much money the executive branch has, they lack authority to spend it.

Michael, if there is a workaround of any kind, Biden's people will find it. If not...

I've said in the past, and I'll say it again, I am very much in favor of using the Patriot Act to put the saboteurs/insurrectionists in prison. Because they are terrorists, pure plain and simple.

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