[Plura-list] Grace is going home; A deep dive into Mexico's new copyright law; The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sat Aug 1 12:43:48 EDT 2020

Today's links

* Grace is going home: Appeals court orders release of Black,
learning-disabled teen jailed for failing to do homework during the

* A deep dive into Mexico's new copyright law: Revealing the hidden
tripwires that undermine Mexicans' human rights.

* The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries: In which fair use rescues us from
Shel Silverstein's terrible brilliance.

* Populism is good for your health: Blame America's mass deaths on its
health-care system, not (just) Trump.

* Congrats to the 2020 Hugo winners: Martine, El-Mohtar, Gladstone,
Caroline, Huang et al.

* This day in history: 2005, 2015, 2019

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


🤺 Grace is going home

A Black Michigan teen with ADHD who was imprisoned for not doing her
homework during the lockdown has been ordered released to her mother,
after months of incarceration.


Grace was on parole for briefly stealing a classmate's phone; Mary Ellen
Brennan (a judge facing reelection this year) decided missing homework
constituted a serious enough parole violation that it warranted a long
term custodial sentence.


Grace was imprisoned after an in-person hearing that her defense counsel
deemed too dangerous to attend in person. Brennan held the hearing
anyway, then, after public outcry, held a second hearing at which she
affirmed her decision to imprison Grace.


Brennan's rationale for Grace's imprisonment was that the juvenile
facility would help her get the education she was missing at home and
also help resolve her friction with her mother.

Brennan maintained this despite testimony from Grace's teachers and
school board officials, and despite the factual record: Grace's prison
education consisted of filling in photocopied worksheets; her counseling
amounted to a few minutes per week of videoconferencing.

Many Michigan members of Congress and other elected officials urged
Brennan to reconsider, as did the local prosecutor. Hundreds of local
students marched in support of Grace.

Today, the appeals court ordered Grace released into her mother's
custody "pending appeal or further order of this court." She will be
confined to home and tethered to a GPS cuff.


Brennan is up for re-election in a few months. She ran unopposed in her
last election.

She is a garbage person.


🤺 A deep dive into Mexico's new copyright law

For the past ten days, I've written extensively about Mexico's new
copyright law, a law that copy-pastes the US copyright system, enacted
with no consultation or debate, nominally to satisfy requirements under
Donald Trump's USMCA agreement.


The law is a disaster for human rights, undermining free speech, the
rights of disabled people, cybersecurity, national sovereignty, the
Right to Repair, and other fundamental rights - it puts Mexico at a
permanent, structural disadvantage relative to Canada and the US.

Like the US law it copies, the new law has numerous, seemingly
reasonable exemptions that, superficially at least, appear to resolve
these human rights issues. However, these are tissue-thin pretenses,
unusably larded with conditions no one could satisfy.

We know this, because the US law they're copied from has been in place
for 22 years, and in that time, *no one* has been able to invoke these
exemptions successfully. They are needles designed to be unthreadable,
even by the most innocent and blameless of defendants.

My colleague, EFF Senior Attorney April Walsh, knows more about US
copyright law and digital rights than almost anyone else in the world,
and she has published a *very* detailed analysis of the new Mexican law,
drawing on her vast knowledge.


This deep dive represents not just the first public translation of the
law into English, but also the best, closest analysis of the law to date
(her analysis is currently in translation and will be published soon,
likely today).

Today is the final day for Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights
to take action on the law, and if you are Mexican or in Mexico, you can
petition them to take it up:


But even if the Commission fails to act, the fight isn't over. As the
people and businesses of Mexico have awakened to the hidden dangers of
this law, pressure is growing for Congress to revisit it, and court
cases are being planned.

If there was ever any doubt that digital rights were inseparable from
human rights, surely the pandemic - which relegated our whole lives to
the digital realm - has erased it. Organizations like R3D and Derechos
Digital are leading the fight in Mexico.

Mexico's lawmakers have a duty to put their people's human rights ahead
of the greed and venality of US-based multinationals. This issue will
*not* go away.


🤺 The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries

Shel Silverstein was a hell of a writer. I mean, I thought so even
before George RR Martin told me about "Uncle Shelby's ABZs" - a
fantastically rude and incredible hilarious parody of a kid's book.


One of the marks of a great writer is that they can sell terrible things
so well that you don't even notice that you're buying them. Take "The
Giving Tree," a Silverstein book that should be a cautionary tale but is
generally read as a suggestion.

In "The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries," Topher Payne rewrites the
ending of "Giving Tree" to unpick the expert, Silversteinien knot of
shitty ideas tied so well that you can easily miss them.


Not only is this hilarious stuff, it's also incredibly, *viscerally*
satisfying, as the tree tells off the boy for being such a colossal asshole.

And Payne brings it in for a hell of a landing!

This isn't just a masterclass in self-care and boundary setting.

It's also as strong an argument as you could ask for in favor of fair
use, and the presumption that critical remix is - and always should be -
fair use. Thankfully, this is a principle that the US Supreme Court has


Payne's work is a fundraiser for the Atlanta Artist Relief Fund Story
Time. If you enjoy it and you're able, please consider a donation to
them in support of Atlanta's artists in crisis.



🤺 Populism is good for your health

Back in 2016, Thomas Frank_'s "Listen, Liberal!" forcefully explained
that "liberals" are not leftists, and that while we on the left might
sometimes ally with liberals, we are not on the same side.


This is something that most of the world outside of the USA knows, but
the USA has largely forgotten. I'll never forget my first day of
university in the US, when a classmate told me I had "liberal" views;
having grown up in Canada's NDP, I knew the difference!

In the US, this manifests as excessive credit for Donald Trump - AKA
excessive blame for Donald Trump - as though he was bright enough and
had enough executive function to be a cause, rather than an effect.

If you're impressed by the Lincoln Project - a collection of war
criminals and grifters from the Reagan and GWB administration and former
Romney campaign backers - you're probably a liberal.

 If you think that those guys should be dragged in front of an American
Nuremberg Trial for their role in dirty wars and Forever Wars; mass
incarceration, mass deportation and mass surveillance; financial fraud,
torture and worse, you're probably a leftist.

The Lincoln Project doesn't object to Trump's most substantive policies
- they just want them executed in ways that don't say the quiet part out
loud - they don't care if the rich shit on the rest of us, they just
abhor gold-plated toilets as unforgivably gauche.

Writing in Le Monde (and, tellingly, not in a US publication), Frank
describes the role that America's dysfunctional, profiteering,
world-trailing health care system played in the pandemic (recall that
the DNC just voted *against* Medicare For All).


Liberals didn't turn pandemic into a culture war with mask-refusal and
astroturf "reopen" protests, but they legitimized it when they
overweighted the role that the recklessness of GOP science-refusal
played in the pandemic's spread --

-- and underweighted the role the broken health-care system played. My
hometown of LA is not a hotbed of plague because of mask-refusal; the
major spread events are in unsafe businesses where precarious workers
can't afford health care and can't risk narcing on their boss.

Meanwhile, anti-science mask-refusers AND pro-universal-health-care
activists (who are following the undeniable scientific conclusion that
universal care is cheaper and better) are both lumped together as
"populists" and dismissed by liberal and conservative establishments.

As Frank describes, the origins of American populism are in a decidedly
pro-science movement: "Populists produced homages to technology and
scholarship and education that were so earnest and ornate that they are
embarrassing to read today."

These pops fought the establishment, who leaned on pseudoscience to
declare the status quo as ordained by the inevitable forces of
"scientific economics," which decreed that only the "best" people could
hope for a decent life.

By the 1930s, health care was a flashpoint for populism. Frank tells the
story of the medical co-op of Elk City, OK,  "in which farm families
would pay a modest sum each year for guaranteed access to doctors,
dentists and a modern regional hospital."

Elk Point was fought tooth-and-nail by the AMA, which declared war on
the co-op's doctor, the socialist Lebanese immigrant Michael Shadid, who
called himself a "Doctor for the People" and believed that health care
part of America's bulwark against dictatorship.

The AMA tried to revoke Shadid's license, excluded him from AMA
membership (and thus malpractice insurance) and warned other doctors
that they'd be blackballed if they went to work with him.

As Frank says, this was not a "popular war on science" - it was
"science's war on populism." That is, the ruling class, having cloaked
itself in "scientific economics" declared those who upheld more durable
(and urgent) scientific truths public enemies and waged war on them.

The AMA - whose wealthy members were certainly part of the ruling class
- boycotted orgs that researched "medical economics," threatened
reprisals against doctors who tried to repeat the Elk Point experiment,
and denounced any Congressional investigations of these tactics.

When a federal inquiry into the AMA's anti-co-op activity convened in
1938, AMA's president rejected it: "That is not scientific medicine and
that is not scientific economics."

As Frank says, the AMA's position was that government oversight was "a
perversion of the social hierarchy, with the laity demanding some quack
remedy and bawling that the experts must prescribe it to him."

And when Truman won in 1948 on a promise of universal healthcare, the
AMA called such care the "discredited system of decadent nations" and
raised a special warchest from its wealthy members to pay the pioneering
Campaigns, Inc to run a propaganda campaign against it.

When Canada's CCF - precursor to the NDP - created the first medicare
system in Saskatchewan in 62, doctors walked off the job en masse, and
SK doctors raised their own warchest to fight universal access to care.

They were backed by a suspicious, far-right org called "Keep Our
Doctors" that appeared out of nowhere and fought medicare "by means of
public demonstrations, red-baiting, and racist innuendo."

Thomas holds this up as an example of a "democracy scare": "in which
society’s high-status groups come to believe that their privileges have
been placed in mortal danger by the actions of the vast, seething

Democracy scares have popped up whenever left populism arose in America,
from William Jennings Bryan to FDR. What was at stake wasn't science, it
was privilege: the conversion of health-care from an industry that
enriched its backers to a human right.

Opponents of Saskatechewan's medical system called it "a battle for the
professional men in this era of mobocracy," and warned that we were
moving from a world where everyone knew their place to a world who's
motto was "I'm as good as you are."

Populism was leftist. As Steven Brust explained to me, all you need to
ask to cleave left from right is: "What's more important: human rights
or property rights?" Anyone who says, "property rights are human rights"
is not on the left (I used this in Walkaway).

Or as Corey Robin says in The Reactionary Mind, the unifier of all
rightwing schools of thought - from eugenics to dominionism to
imperialism to libertarianism - is the belief that some people are
innately better than others, and they should rule.


Democrats are not a leftists. Frank: they're "the bought-and-paid-for
vehicle of affluent and highly educated professionals. It dutifully
bails out the geniuses on Wall Street. It responsibly obeys the
economists who tell us about the wonders of ‘free trade.’"

"And when our modern Democrats propose healthcare reform, they do it
from the top down, by convening experts from every affected field and
asking them to redraw the system amongst themselves — and then are
astonished when the public erupts in outrage."

Today, private-equity backed, highly concentrated hospital chains and
pharma companies have taken over the AMA's role in fighting universal
healthcare, and the Dem establishment dismisses M4A advocates as
"populists" and lumps them in with Trump-addled mask-deniers.

This ideology locates the world's problems in the unruliness of The
People: "Democracy is a problem, they tell us, because democracy allows
the common people to ignore the authority of expertise. Disobedient
democracy is to blame for Trump."

"Disobedient democracy is why we can do nothing about global warming.
Disobedient democracy is the reason we can’t beat the Covid pandemic.
And all of it is the fault of We the People."

But The People aren't the reason that we don't have universal testing,
that we haven't hired an army of contact tracers, that workers fear
reprisals if they reveal their unsafe working conditions, which breed
and spread pandemic.

We The People aren't why we don't have universal healthcare, they're not
why we aren't paying people to stay home or stemming the tide of
evictions. The policies that created the pandemic disaster aren't
Trumpist aberrations, they're mainstream Republicanism.

They're the Republicanism of the Lincoln Project, which supported
consolidation in pharma and healthcare, erosion of workers' rights and
health and safety regulation.

And they're the policies of the mainstream of the Democrats, too: the
brutal austerity of Pelosi's Paygo and Brooker's votes against taming
the pharma industry.

Trump's criminal, lethal mismanagement of the pandemic would have
slaughtered Americans by the tens of thousands regardless of this, of
course - but hundreds of thousands more would have been spared
infection, eviction and death if it wasn't for the system he presides over.

He didn't make that system, and the professionalized, elite-worshipping
DNC won't unmake it. As Frank says, "In our awful current situation, a
dose of authentic populism would be a remarkable tonic."


🤺 Congrats to the 2020 Hugo winners

Last night, Conzealand hosted the first-ever all-virtual Huge Awards!
Congrats to all the winners, a collection of outstanding works that I
commend to your attention:


Best Novel: A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine

Best Novella: This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and
Max Gladstone

Best Novelette: Emergency Skin, NK Jemisin

Best Short Story: “As the Last I May Know”, by S.L. Huang

Best Series: The Expanse, by James SA Corey

Best Related Work: “2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech”, by
Jeannette Ng

Best Graphic Story: LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor

Best Long-Form Drama: Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman, directed by
Douglas Mackinnon

Best Short-Form Drama: The Good Place: “The Answer”, written by Daniel
Schofield, directed by Valeria Migliassi Collins

Best Editor, Short Form: Ellen Datlow

Best Editor, Long Form: Navah Wolfe

Best Pro Artist: John Picacio

Best Semiprozine: Uncanny

Best Fanzine: The Book Smugglers

Best Fancast: Our Opinions Are Correct by Annalee Newitz and Charlie
Jane Anders

Best Fan Writer: Bogi Takács

Best Fan Artist: Elise Matthesen

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book: Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi

Astounding Award for the Best New SF Writer: RF Kuang

If you're a Worldcon attendee, you can catch later today, (tomorrow if
you're in NZ!) doing my first-ever reading from ATTACK SURFACE, the
third Little Brother book:



🤺 This day in history

#15yrsago German Harry Potter fan-translation in 45 hours

#5yrsago Re-recording the 1969 "Story and Song of the Haunted Mansion"

#1yrago Clown Car 2.0: Matt Taibbi on the Democratic nomination race

#1yrago Teenaged girl becomes a resistance symbol for her peaceful
reading of the Russian constitution to a Putin goon-squad (they beat her
up later)

#1yrago Your massive surprise hospital bills are making bank for private

#1yrago Amazon's secret deals with cops gave corporate PR a veto over
everything the cops said about their products

#1yrago Data-mining reveals that 80% of books published 1924-63 never
had their copyrights renewed and are now in the public domain

#1yrago Triple Chaser: a short documentary that uses machine learning to
document tear gas use against civilians, calling out "philanthropist"
Warren Kanders for his company's war-crimes

#1yrago Cisco's failure to heed whistleblower's warning about security
defects in video surveillance software costs the company $8.6m in fines

#1yrago Man donates mother's body to science, discovers it was sold to
the military for "blast testing"

#1yrago Paul Di Filippo on Radicalized: "Upton-Sinclairish muckraking,
and Dickensian-Hugonian ashcan realism"


🤺 Colophon

Today's top sources: Waxy (https://waxy.org/), Naked Capitalism

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Friday's progress: 541 words (44450 total).

Currently reading: The Deficit Myth, Stephanie Kelton

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 11)

Upcoming appearances:

* Reading, Conzealand, Aug 1 (Aug 2 in NZ!),

* Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars? Public Transit in the Age of
Google, Uber, and Elon Musk, Aug 4,

* Virtual event with Christopher Brown for his novel "Failed State," Aug

* Induction into the CSFFA Hall of Fame, Aug 15,

Latest book:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

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

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