[Plura-list] Rural swing-state voters' social media show growing disapproval for Trump; The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act; Garbage Math

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sat Apr 18 13:22:40 EDT 2020

Today's links

* Rural swing-state voters' social media show growing disapproval for
Trump: Putting his literal signature on covid response makes it hard to
argue it's not his fault.

* The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act: Ilhan Omar's bill to protect
renters and mortgage payers during and after the crisis.

* Garbage Math: XKCD on the mathematics of uncertainty

* ICANN pauses selloff of .ORG registry: The GOP billionaires behind
Ethos capital have to wait a while longer.

* Delivery services are gouging restaurants to death: Call the
restaurant, order your meal, and pick it up.

* Post-collpase maker utopia sim: Not quite Walkaway, but interesting

* This day in history: 2015, 2019

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


🔌 Rural swing-state voters' social media show growing disapproval for

The One Country project is a Democratic-Party-leaning nonprofit that
seeks to engage with rural voters; they're doing a series of
longituuinal surveys of rural swing-state responses to Trump's handling
of the crisis in partnership with the nonprofit news org Daily Yonder.

These are heartening: they show rural voters increasingly fed up with
Trump and his incompetence, with declining currency for GOP memes like
"media bias" and increasing attention to "voter suppression" (responding
to the Wisconsin election debacle).


You can see a clear progression in which Trump's political capital is
being annihilated by peoples' lived experiences of his failed policies
(maybe putting his names on those checks wasn't such a smart idea,
huh?). Here's Mar 15-21.


And here's the next survey, Mar 29-Apr 5.


So that all looks like good news, but there are a few caveats. The
surveys are conducted by scraping giant tranches of geolocated social
media posts, de-duplicating them, randomly sampling them, and these are
hand-coded for sentiment analysis.

The work is done by Impact Social, a DC/London based analytics firm
whose site is long on buzzwords but short on technical details. If they
have a Twitter account, I can't find it.


The "methodology" sections of the surveys themselves are very thin.

That said, assuming the surveys are being conducted using the same
methods from week to week, then they're measuring *something*, and that
*something* is changing (let's hope it's not statistical noise).

But *if* the methodology is sound, and *if* sentiment translates to
votes, and *if* the sentiment is sustained over time, *then* rural
voters in six swing states are seriously fucked off with Trump and the
Republican brand is circling the drain.

I have serious doubts about Biden. Yes, I disagree with many of his
policies (though these may improve as his campaign makes overtures to
left Dems), but I'm more worried about the ways in which he is
compromised by his record, his scandals, and his "gaffes".

I think these are serious liabilities in the era of discouragement
politics in which each party tries to convince the other's voter base to
stay home by arguing that their corrupt party leaders have demanded that
they eat a shit sandwich…

…And try to mobilize their own base to show up and vote by arguing that
the other party's shit sandwich is *way* worse than the shit sandwich
their own party has asked them to eat.

I fear that Biden is going to be easy to cast as a shit-sandwich and so
potential D voters will stay home.

(and for the record, Trump is a way, way worse shit sandwich than Biden)

The thing about these surveys that brings me hope is that they suggest
that the Trump base is now thinking of him as an even bigger shit
sandwich. I don't know if they'll vote D, but I think it might mean that
that they'll sit out the election.

tldr: Maybe this means that Trump might lose the election, even if Biden
doesn't win it.


🔌 The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act

Ilhan Omar has authored a bill that suspends mortgages and rent payments
nationwide for the duration of the crisis and for a month beyond. It's
endorsed by a laundry list of housing and poverty advocacy groups.


Here's the text of the bill, the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act:


Last month, 31% of Americans couldn't pay rent. This month, the number
will be much, much higher. The Trump administration's insistence that
$1200 will constitute sufficient "bridge liquidity" to tide those people
over for 10 weeks is a cruel fantasy.


The federal eviction moratorium in the CARES Act expires mid-May (many
landlords are ignoring the moratorium anyway). The crisis will not
expire mid-May. Even if this miracle were to pass, the immediate
aftermath would be a tsunami of evictions.


Omar proposes tying federal mortgage guarantees to tenancy protections,
including a five-year requirement for fair lending and renting
practices, banning no-fault evictions, rent increases, and
discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders.

She also wants to create a fund to acquire distressed rental properties
and for management by nonprofits, cities, community trusts, and states.


🔌 Garbage Math

In XKCD 2295, "Garbage Math," Randall Munroe does a stellar job
elucidating the uncertainty plaguing our ability to estimate when
lockdown will end.


The thing is, several key variables are unknown and attempts to estimate
them produce "garbage numbers." These include:

* What percentage of people have covid-19 antibodies

* What percentage of people who have covid-19 antibodies are immune to
the disease, and for how long

* When we will develop a vaccine for covid-19

* How long production of the vaccine will take after it is developed

* When we will discover effective therapeutics for covid-19

* How long it will take to ramp up their production

These variables produce a combinatorial explosion of scenarios for when
the lockdown will end, and how long after that the crisis will pass.
These scenarios are the reason we have a range of "estimates" – they're
not estimates, they're scenarios.

If a and b, then x more weeks. If a, b and c, then y more weeks. If a
and c, etc, etc.

These kinds of scenarios are a lot more common than predictions, but
scenarios are usually presented (by governments, press and science
communicators) as predictions.

In part, that's because our public discourse has little room for
scenarios – but also, that's partly *why* our public discourse has
little room for scenarios.


🔌 ICANN pauses selloff of .ORG registry

The selloff of the .ORG registry to a secretive group of GOP-connected
billionaire PE looters has received another reprieve, as ICANN has
delayed voting on the sale following an intercession from California's
Attorney General.


Alas, the CA AG's letter did not prompt ICANN to vote to cancel the
sale, but rather to take "additional time to complete our review," with
a new vote scheduled for May 4.


CA AG Bercos: "In effect, what is at stake is the transfer of the
world's second largest registry to a for-profit private equity firm
that, by design, exists to profit from millions of nonprofit and
non-commercial organizations."

The AG's letter was prompted in part by an open letter by Esther Dyson
(ICANN's founding chair) and Michael Roberts (ICANN's founding CEO)
accusing ICANN of abandoning its principles and calling for the sale to
be halted.


As always, the best coverage of this comes from Kieren McCarthy. Here he
is on the vote delay:


And here's his excellent backgrounder/explainer.


As with so many grifts, the selloff of .ORG is performatively dull and
screened by layers of acronyms and obfuscating, needless complexity.
McCarthy cuts through it all:


🔌 Delivery services are gouging restaurants to death

San Francisco has capped commissions for food-delivery apps at 15%.
These apps – even the ones that eliminated charges for customers – were
gouging restaurants, consuming 100% (or more) of their margins.


However, as Jamie Zawinski (owner of San Francisco's DNA Lounge and DNA
Pizza) writes, the delivery companies (being grifts) are really good at
circumventing these rules and cheating, with "delivery commissions,"
"processing fees," etc.


He ends: "The best way for all of us, customers and restaurants, to
avoid being gouged by those companies is to call us on the phone
(4156260166) and place an order for pick-up. Not that I really expect
people to do that… Nobody hates talking on the phone more than me."


🔌 Post-collpase maker utopia sim

Common'hood is a new/forthcoming game "about building a new habitat for
you and your community" after an economic crash. Gameplay begins with
occupying an abandoned factory and "deciding how you want to live."


The creators describe their inspiration as coming from the "Maker
Movement, Open Source Ecology, Fablabs or the Tiny house community."


You proceed by crafting shelter, managing your workshop, acquiring
automation, managing a crew, automating construction, salvaging
materiel, farming, selling your food, building and maintaining machines
from open source blueprints, and supplying community water and power.

"Each character that joins your crew will have their own unique story,
helping you understand what led them to end up without a home. By
working together, you will be able to provide shelter and facilities to
improve the life of your community."

Gameplay turns on open source "Blueprints" that can be turned into
machinery, and on automating that machinery to free humans from drudgery.

Though I haven't played it, I am fascinated by the crossover with my
2017 novel Walkaway.


There are some important differences. Walkaway is a story about
post-scarcity, leaderless gift economies in the midst of environmental
cataclysm and economic collapse. Judging from the descriptions,
Common'hood has a lot of buying and selling and leadership in its play.

That said, this looks fascinating. It's coming to Steam soon:


And there's apparently a playable demo on Discord:



🔌 This day in history

#5yrsago Internet.org: delivering poor Internet to poor people

#5yrsago A bill to fix America's most dangerous computer law

#1yrago Read the source code for every classic Infocom text-adventure
game! https://github.com/historicalsource"

#1yrago IPOs have sent Uber and Lyft fares skyrocketing, while driver
pay plummets

#1yrago Telcoms lobbyists have convinced 26 states to ban or restrict
municipal broadband


🔌 Colophon

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

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 539 words (5299

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: Podcast swap: Wil Wheaton on Little

Upcoming appearances:

* 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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