[Plura-list] Podcast swap with Wil Wheaton; Corona-denying pastor dies of coronavirus; Ticketmaster ends refunds for canceled events; Amazon fires tech workers for their warehouse worker solidarity

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Tue Apr 14 12:58:16 EDT 2020

Today's links

* Podcast swap with Wil Wheaton: Wil and I read each others' work in our
podcasts this week.

* Corona-denying pastor dies of coronavirus: Governments who depend on
the religious right have a conflict of interest.

* Ticketmaster ends refunds for canceled events: Ever wonder what "terms
subject to change without notice" really means?

* Amazon fires tech workers for their warehouse worker solidarity:
Threatened for speaking out on climate, fired for speaking out on
warehouse conditions.

* Southern states in for worst of coronavirus impact: The white
gerontocracy has engineered a perfect pandemic storm.

* Abolish Silicon Valley: Wendy Liu's new memoir is a case-study from
the tech worker uprising.

* I'm doing Podapalooza! It's a pay-what-you-can onlin podcast festival
with proceeds to Give Directly.

* This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015

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


🌮 Podcast swap with Wil Wheaton

This week for my podcast, I'm doing a swap with Wil Wheaton and his
podcast! He's read my short story "Return to Pleasure Island" (about the
pleasures that tempt the golems who turn the boys into donkeys):


While I read his journal entries from 2008 about how my novel Little
Brother helped him find common ground with his (then) teenaged son, Nolan.


I was incredibly moved to revisit Wil's essays about parenting and my
novels. Reading it was a delight. Here's an MP3:


And here's an MP3 of Wil's reading of "Return to Pleasure Island" – what
a treat to hear him breathe new life into a story I wrote about 20 years

And here's a feed for my podcast:



🌮 Corona-denying pastor dies of coronavirus

Bishop Gerald O Glenn headed The New Deliverance Evangelistic Church
near Richmond, VA, where he defied social distancing orders, declaring
himself to be an essential service because he "talked to God." He
insisted that God would protect him.


He has died of coronavirus.

His wife is also ill.


Defying public-health orders is an interfaith affair. After Rabbit Tzvi
Hirsh Meislish died of coronavirus, his Hassidic followers ignored
social distancing orders to attend his funeral.


And of course, the evangelical Liberty University megacampus refused to
follow public health orders, then had journalists who ventured on campus
to report on conditions arrested.


The point here isn't to mock ignorance or count coup, but rather to
identify a trend: that the leaders of largely conservative faith
communities are putting their followers at risk, even as conservative
political leaders are also downplaying the risk.

As wags have noted, if billionaires need you to go back to work to keep
their fortunes intact, then it follows that your work – not theirs – is
responsible for those fortunes to begin with.

And conservative faith leaders have forged a 40-years alliance with
conservative business leaders, making it difficult to disentangle to
what extend their covid denial is scriptural or economic.


Whatever the mix, the combo is toxic. The worshippers of Mammon need
evangelicals to supply turkeys who'll vote for Christmas. When religious
communities subject us to risk (of thousands of more deaths and months
of extra lockdown), political leaders won't stop them.

Both power blocs want to believe. Wall Street wants to believe that it's
safe to end social distancing to keep vast fortunes intact and forestall
Keynsian spending and a discrediting of the whole project of replacing
government money creation with finance money creation.

The rise of science denial in faith communities has made them especially
vulnerable. They want to reopen services, sure, but they also struggle
with the theological implications of a pandemic, and to square their
belief in divine protection with scientific best practices.


🌮 Ticketmaster ends refunds for canceled events

Ticketmaster is a runaway corrupt monopoly. They forced out or gobbled
up every ticketing company, then merged with Live Nation and monopolized
both venues and promo, to the vast detriment of fans, artists, and

Ticketmaster's misconduct is too long to delve into here. Even
enumerating RECENT scandals is a heroic chore. Here's a smattering:

The company was caught secretly working with scalpers to drive up prices
without having to share the take with artists:


Ticketmaster also invented an entire (literal) playbook for
price-gouging (again, while diverting funds from artists):


Oh, and they're leading the push to put facial recognition into venues,
because if they have another breach, you can just ask for a new face to
replace the one they leaked. (To opt out, just don't have a face).


Enter coronavirus. All concerts are cancelled.

And Ticketmaster is not giving out refunds.


The company *used* to have a policy that tickets to cancelled events
were fully refundable. That policy was "subject to change without notice."

They changed it.

They're not alone. The $5B/year Stubhub is giving vouchers for future
concerts to customers.

Join the class action suit here!


Ticketmaster's annual gross was $30B/year. That should get the
class-action lawyers' attention. Stay tuned.


🌮 Amazon fires tech workers for their warehouse worker solidarity

Earlier this year, 400 Amazon tech workers signed an open letter
criticizing the company for its climate policies, from its hydrocarbon
delivery vehicles to its customers in the fossil fuel industry.


Amazon threatened to fire the leaders of the internal uprising.


10 days ago, leaks from a meeting of Amazon's top execs (including Jeff
Bezos and general counsel David Zapolsky) revealed a plan to smear and
discredit Christian Smalls, a warehouse worker who led a walkout over
unsafe working conditions.


Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa – two of the workers who were
threatened for their role in organizing internal opposition to Amazon's
climate misconduct – have now been fired for voicing their support for
Smalls and other warehouse workers.


Chris Hayes, another Amazon tech worker, has been "asked not to return
to work" and handed in his resignation after he circulated an invitation
for Amazon tech workers to attend a videoconference with Amazon
warehouse workers.


"An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the employees were fired for
'repeatedly' violating policies. "We support every employee's right to
criticize their employer's working conditions but that does not come
with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies."


🌮 Southern states in for worst of coronavirus impact

Nationwide, the American south is facing the worst harms from
coronavirus (as Yves Smith points out, big blue cities get more coverage
because that's where the press lives).


Southern states have the worst wealth inequality in the country. They
also have the lowest taxes (these facts are related), and their
Republican leadership blocked Medicaid expansion because they said they
were too broke for the 10% co-pay the feds asked for as part of ACA.

(Of course, blocks to Medicaid expansion can't be blamed solely on empty
coffers; the GOP leadership in red states are ideologically opposed to
universal health-care and wanted to discredit Obama)

Cities like Albany, Georgia have per-capita coronavirus rates to rival
NYC. These are predominantly Black cities, whose local governments are
broke, and whose state governments are unlikely to offer sufficient (or
even meaningful) aid.

The southern states' problems aren't just the result of brittle
infrastructure. These are also states whose power-centers are white
evangelical Fox-viewing Republicans, who deliberately ignored public
health advice to own the libs.


Their governors were late to declare lockdowns. During the exponential
growth phase of a pandemic, even small delays add up to huge increases
in spread. Southern states had very, very large delays.


The affluent white southerners who are the architects of the region's
brittle public health system and who performed tribal loyalty by defying
quarantine advice skew older, but are also more likely to have access to
better health care.

Meanwhile, the New Jim Crow means that Black southerners are already
likely to have chronic, untreated health conditions, no savings to allow
them to choose not to work to protect their health and their families,
and no access to health care.

"It's a high-stakes stress test on our system, revealing weaknesses and
gaps we've always known were there. The question is whether the light
will be bright enough this time that our officials will be forced to
face the reality and address it." -Jim Carnes, Alabama Arise


🌮 Abolish Silicon Valley

Abolish Silicon Valley is Wendy Liu's new memoir about her journey from
community-minded online fandom nerd to cyberselfish startup person to
anticapitalist activist. It's marvelous and timely.


Liu's work traces an emotional and political journey from joyful
participation to driven striving to urgent solidarity, and is a perfect
case-study for understanding the rise and rise of tech worker

Liu is pitiless and remorseless in her self-examination, and that
honesty provides the insight needed to understand how smart people kid
themselves into doing terrible things — and what it takes to pull back
from the brink.

She rejects the tech-exceptionalist idea that tech is intrinsically
corrupting or corrupt. Rather, she locates her critique at the
intersection of unregulated, runaway capitalism and the power of tech to
act as a force-multiplier for the people who control it.

Which is why the book ends with a set of proposed reforms that would
liberate tech from rapacious, uncaring capitalism. I like the majority
of these (as I point out in my review, I think that licensure/liability
for programmers is at odds with making all software free/open).

But that's a small quibble. This is an outstanding book: beautifully
written, urgent and timely.



🌮 I'm doing Podapalooza!

I've signed up to participate in #podapalooza, an online,
pay-what-you-can podcast festival that benefits Give Directly's fund
that gives $1,000 grants to families in need.


It's 24h of episodes from a range of podcasters, including me. I'm
podcasting an hour of a new reading of my novel "Someone Comes to Town,
Someone Leaves Town," a novel that Gene Wolfe called "a glorious book
unlike any book you've ever read."


(There's also an official audiobook read by Bronson Pinchot):


It's a very impressive lineup, with something for everybody (even kids'

The event runs Apr 25/6, but the podcasts are (obviously) available for
you to listen whenever. Pay-what-you-can tix here:



🌮 This day in history

#15yrsago Turning WIPO into a real UN agency: blogging from the sausage

#10yrsago Anti-piracy enforcers claiming to represent Microsoft used to
shut down dissident media in former USSR

#10yrsago Library of Congress to archive every public tweet ever sent

#5yrsago In America's libraries, Young Adult, graphic novels, and books
by people of color are most challenged

#5yrsago How to Teach Adults: Get a Job; Plan Your Class; Teach Your
Students; Change the World

#5yrsago Airport workers, including TSA, raid unlockable luggage for


🌮 Colophon

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/),
Slashdot (https://slashdot.org).

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation

Currently reading: I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about
tech, "Uncanny Valley" and Jo Walton's forthcoming novel "Or What You Will."

Latest podcast: The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots

Upcoming appearances:

* Apr 16, Stories are Super Weird. Here's Why They Work, Clarion Teen
Writing Classes

* Apr 22, Flatten The Curve Summit https://flattenthecurve.tech/

* Apr 23, Canada Reads Q&A

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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