[Plura-list] The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots, Illinois reinstates physical restraints for special ed kids, Youtube vs 5G arsonists, Hamilton original cast reunites on Zoom

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Mon Apr 6 11:07:52 EDT 2020

Today's links

* The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots: My latest podcast, on a redefined form
of abundance and luxury.

* Illinois reinstates physical restraints for special ed kids: Revenge
of the "quiet room."

* Youtube vs 5G arsonists: There's plenty of things wrong with 5G, but
coronavirus isn't one of them.

* Hamilton original cast reunites on Zoom: A ray of sunshine at a dark time.

* This day in history: 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


👩🏾‍🔬 The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots

My latest podcast is a reading of my 2017 Locus Magazine column, "The
Jubilee: Fill Your Boots," which investigates the nature of scarcity and
abundance, and the relationship they have to coordination, the internet,
and our economic system.


The thesis of the essay (also explored in my novel Walkaway) is that we
might someday reimagine what we mean when we think of luxury: not being
able to get everything when we want it, but rather great outpourings of
materials and leisure tied into the rhythms of the world.

Maybe we'll all be summoned to work when renewable energy is available
("make hay while the sun shines") but we'll also be furloughed with all
the food, friends and fun we want when it's not (and someone else will
be called to work).

It's a very old kind of abundance, one that we only gave up because
industrial production required that we trade our individual autonomy for
efficiency in producing material goods that made our lives, on balance,
much better.

But with networked computers, we can have a post-industrial world that
marries our pre-industrial rhythms to our industrial production
efficiencies. After all, the thing networked computers do is make it
cheaper and easier to coordinate our work.

This was speculative in 2017. Now, in pandemic lockdown, we're learning
just how much of our synchronized labor – the things we all do in the
same place at the same time – was the result of inertia and habit, and
how much it can be jettisoned to allow us to work as we will.

It's a bizarre and amazing time. Terrifying, yes. But the dislocation is
also redefining what we think of as possible, desirable, and necessary.

Here's the MP3:


And here's my podcast feed:



👩🏾‍🔬 Illinois reinstates physical restraints for special ed kids

Late last year, Propublica published a deep, blockbuster investigation
into the use of brutal "discipline" techniques in Illinois's special ed
classes, some of them so extreme as to qualify as torture.


These techniques, including physically restraining children and locking
them in small isolation rooms, sometimes for whole days, or even for
whole consecutive days, had been strictly limited or eliminated
altogether in the rest of the US, but not in Illinois.

Instead, Illinois had passed a rule requiring schools to document the
use of force against children with learning disabilities. As a result,
Propublica was able to FOIA thick sheaves of handwritten notes
documenting children's pleas for release at mandated 15-min intervals.

It was real Banality of Evil stuff, and it shed light on mysterious
broken bones and bruises that parents had been told were self-inflicted.
In the ensuing scandal, the state banned the use of these techniques,
finally catching up with the rest of the nation, 20 years on.

But, it turns out, they didn't.


Thanks to intense lobbying from Illinois private schools, notably Giant
Steps and Markland Day School, and the public A.E.R.O Special Education
Cooperative, some of the physical restraint tactics were reinstated.

Notably, face-down restraint – a tactic banned in 30+ states due to the
high risk of asphyxiation – is once again permitted in special ed programs.

We can thank Rep Jim Durkin [R-82] for this. He sits on Giant Steps's
board along with 5 former colleagues from state government.

His chief of staff was an ardent advocate for reinstating face-down
restraint in Illinois schools. He declined to comment to Propublica.


👩🏾‍🔬 Youtube vs 5G arsonists

There are plenty of things wrong with 5G.

It's incredibly insecure:


And easy for law-enforcement to spy on:


It's a smokescreen for underinvestment in fiber by monopolistic, awful
telcos, and its promised benefits will not materialize without fiber


On the bullshit scale of lies, damned lies, and telcoms lies, 5G
represents a kind of peak bullshit:


But 5G doesn't give you cancer. It won't make you sick. And…god, I am
getting stupider just thinking about typing this, coronavirus is not a
false-flag op to disguise the illnesses that 5G is secretly creating.

The reason I have to mention that is that the conspiracyverse is full of
that specific theory, and it's inspiring people to COMMIT ARSON and
torch 5G towers.

No, seriously.

In the wake of multiple attacks on 5G towers, Youtube has announced
changes to its moderation guidelines. It will allow 5G conspiracy
theories, just not ones that (oh god my fingers are seizing up from the
stupid) link 5G with coronavirus.


Youtube gets blamed for spreading conspiracies but that's not the whole
story. Youtube – Big Tech in general – is a machine for finding people,
much more than it is a machine for convincing people. Youtube is not a
mind-control ray that bypasses viewers' critical faculties.

5G conspiracy theories are new, but Flat Earth conspiracies are not, nor
is antivax. These have been around for a long, long time. Even a cursory
perusal of the arguments for these conspiracies reveals that they have
not gotten better, even as they've gained traction.

If the same arguments are attracting more adherents, then one of two
things is going on. Either:

1. Youtube is a mind-control ray that can turn rational people into
believers in facially absurd ideas that have failed for decades, or

2. The number of people to whom these ideas seem plausible has grown
and/or Youtube has made it more efficient to reach those people.

I think it's 2. I think that the rise of conspiratorial thinking is
connected most closely to a rise in actual conspiracies.

Not elaborate flying saucer conspiracies, but everyday ones, like the
Sacklers conspiring to get rich by lying about the safety of opioids, or
prosecutors and lawmakers covering up for their pals like Jeffrey
Epstein and Harvey Weinstein.

Conspiracies to ignore the evidence about Flint's water, or the failures
of Universal Credit in the UK, or to pretend that private equity funds
are anything but engines for turning productive companies into mangled
wreckages while enriching plutes:


Why do people believe in public health conspiracies, from antivax to 5G?
Well, maybe because public health authorities spent two decades ignoring
the opioid crisis in order to protect ultrarich opioid profiteers.

Maybe they doubt journal articles because major journal publishers have
repeatedly published fake journals through their marketing divisions
that allowed pharma companies to pay to publish unsubstantiated studies.


Maybe they don't believe in their doctors' advice because their doctors
accept a continuous stream of payments from pharma companies, and then
prescribe in ways that fatten their bottom lines.


Maybe they don't trust regulators because they sign off on procedures
that kill people, despite a lack of evidence for their safety AND a
wealth of evidence about their risks:


One of the best books I read in 2019 was Anna Merlan's Republic of Lies,
a history of conspiratorial thinking in America and a look at the rise
of conspiracism in the 21st century:


Merlan describes how conspiracists aren't ignorant, but rather lavishly
misinformed. UFO conspiracists can go chapter-and-verse on aerospace
conspiracies, of which there are so. many. including, most recently, the
737 Max scandal.

Antivaxers know tons about opioid coverups and other medical
malpractice. People who believe that the levees were dynamited during
Katrina to drown black neighborhoods and spare white ones know all about
when that actually happened in Tupelo, MS.

Susceptibility to conspiratorialism arises when someone is exposed to
actual conspiracies, and trauma. And while both have been abundant
during the neoliberal era, coronavirus is peak trauma and peak conspiracy.

Just think of the spectacle of official inaction, combined with official
calls for all the old people to die, combined with the annihilation of
huge swathes of the economy, combined with a stream of revelations about
corruption and profiteering in the response.

No wonder so many people are primed to believe in conspiracies at this
moment, and so maddened with grief and anxiety that they take rash – and
foolish – action.

Which brings me back to what Youtube is doing.

Youtube is not a mind-control ray, it's a people-finding machine. That's
because advertisers need people-finding machines. The median person buys
<1 fridge/lifetime, so it's really hard to find people thinking of
buying fridges.

That's why fridge ads appear on highways near airports: "People who fly
have money, people need money to buy fridges." Those ads have
0.00000000000000000001% conversion rates.

Targeting ads to people who've searched for refrigerator reviews can
make them thousands of times more effective, and even if the new rate is
only 0.000000000001%, that's massive improvement for fridge advertisers.
YT is ad-supported so it is good at finding people.

Ad-tech companies make two claims, though: the first is that they know
where to find your customers. The second is that they can convince them
of things that are otherwise unsupportable.

This was Cambridge Analytica's pitch: not that they would find racists
and tell them about Trump, but that they would make decent people into
Trump voters.

There's some narrow truth to this Running ads that tell lies (especially
harmful ones) is often illegal. At the very least, it can mire you in
scandal. Targeting allows you to place secret ads: ads whose content is
only seen by people who won't narc you out. That gives targeted ads a
persuasive advantage that billboards can't have.

Finding people who want to believe lies and lying to them is not

It's fraud.

Because everyone in the entire history of the world who'd claimed to
have invented a mind-control ray was a fraud, from NLPers and PUAs, to
Mkultra and the Cultural Revolution.

Back to conspiracies, Youtube, secrecy and people-finding.

There are lots of things wrong with Youtube (spying, monopolization, and
its hospitality to copyfraud and censorship), but people-finding and
spying are both double-edged swords.

People-finding is how fringe ideas accumulate adherents, yes. Some of
those are terrible, like "scientific racism." Some are laudable, like
the rise of trans identity.

Privacy is how lies are spun, but it's also how truths are whispered
before they can be spoken aloud.

Secrets like "I believe interracial marriage should be legal" or
"cannabis isn't harmful" or "gender is not a binary."

There are lots of things we should do to fix Youtube and tech, but on
balance, finding people who share your ideas is a force for good.

Debunking false conspiratorial beliefs is important, but not as
important as ending actual conspiracies among wealthy and powerful
people to corrupt our political and economic system to enrich themselves
regardless of the consequences to the rest of us.

Fighting conspiracism is like fighting a wildfire. When the town is on
fire, you have to put it out. But if you want to keep your town from
catching fire again, you have to eliminate the fuel that causes it to
burn, clear out the brush.

The problem with locating the problem with Youtube – instead of seeing
Youtube and its monopoly as a consequence of policies that promote
inequality and monopolism – is that it's just fighting blazes, not
preventing them.


👩🏾‍🔬 Hamilton original cast reunites on Zoom

Aubrey is a 9-year-old who had birthday tickets to see Hamilton in
Florida, but it was cancelled, so John Krasinski invited her to his
online show, "Some Good News," and revealed that she was getting
Broadway tix to see it after the emergency lifts.


Aubrey was obviously very pleased by this. Then Krasinski revealed the
kicker: Lin Manuel Miranda himself was on the show with her,
videoconferenced in to sing the main theme from Hamilton.

Which was pretty amazing.

But then, as the song went on, more and more of the original cast of
Hamilton conferenced in, singing along with Lin Manuel, until *the
entire original cast* was on the call, singing along.

It is an astonishingly great video to watch, a ray of sunshine in a dark




👩🏾‍🔬 This day in history

#5yrsago John Oliver interviews Edward Snowden

#1yrago How the super-rich defeated the IRS's crack Global High Wealth

#1yrago Airbnb guest uses network sniffer to find hidden webcam, Airbnb
finds no wrongdoing

#1yrago Occupy Gotham: my essay about the class war at the heart of
Batman https://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/32609256107/in/dateposted/


👩🏾‍🔬 Colophon

Today's top sources: Alice Taylor (https://twitter.com/wonderlandblog/).

Currently writing: I'm getting geared up to start work my next novel,
"The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland:
it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs.
Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; 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: The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots

Upcoming appearances:

* Short Story Club, April 7, 530PM Pacific https://www.shortstory.club/

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book
about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:

(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 new
introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

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When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy"

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