[Plura-list] EFF dream-job, Medicare For All Bond Villain, Bloomberg's Sackler connection, Tory housing crisis and more

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sat Feb 29 11:12:16 EST 2020

Today's links

* EFF is hiring a new tech projects director: It's a once-in-a-lifetime
dream job.

* Bond villain monologue, Medicare for All edition: "No, Mr Bond, I
expect you to sign a binding arbitration waiver."

* FUCK TRUMP AND HIS STUPID FUCKING WALL: A 26% alcohol habanero spirit
from Empirical Spirits.

* Mike Bloomberg helped the Sacklers launder their reputations: Just
helping out the "Friends of Mike."

* Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with a climate plan as big as the
climate crisis: No one ever asked how we'd pay for WWII.

* Cutting the UK housing subsidy led to massive homelessness payouts:
Tories are always swallowing spiders to catch their flies.

* This day in history: 2012, 2016 (leap years!)

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


⚙️ EFF is hiring a new tech projects director

There are lots of ways techies can help EFF – contributing code to our
projects like Certbot, Privacy Badger and HTTPS Everywhere and/or
joining up and writing a check. But right now, there's a rare chance to
work directly to make profound change with us.

That's because EFF is hiring a Tech Projects Director.


It's a huge gig, the kind of thing that only comes up once in a very
long while. You don't just get to oversee the impressive roster of EFF
projects, you also get to set future priorities.

"Some people join EFF having been burned by unfeeling tech companies or
corporate law jobs, and coming to EFF can feel like coming home – a
place where everyone genuinely wants you to be successful, where we do
our best to leave drama at the door even as passion is welcomed."

I've been with the org for EIGHTEEN YEARS and this is so, so true.

Even if you're not right for this gig, keep checking in with our help
wanted page.


We're growing fast, first because the world is severely messed up, and
second because our member-donors recognize how well situated we are to
make a difference and they're funding us to expand.


⚙️ Bond villain monologue, Medicare for All edition

We're all familiar with the Bond villain setup: "Mr. Bond, I see you've
ingested my poison."

But what follows in Matt Haughey's "Monologuing" is a fabulous satirical
take on the Medicare For All moment.


"No, Mr Bond, I expect you to…"

* Locate in-network doctors on our website

* Cross-reference with the benefits PDF you were sent last month

* Create a login

* Verify your last three home addresses

(before the poison hits)

* Call your doctor and agree to see a physician's assistant so you can
get treatment in less than 3 week

* Agree to a $100 urgent-care co-pay

* Pay $1200 for the ambulance to the ER

"Do you expect me to talk?"

"No, I expect you to continue to wait on hold because your call is very
important to us and may be monitored for quality assurance purposes."



"FUCK TRUMP AND HIS STUPID FUCKING WALL" is "a habanero spirit made from
a base of pearled barley, Belgian saison yeast, and koji. The clear
product is rectified with a habanero vinegar that gives it a 27% ABV.
This imparts an intensely fruity habanero profile without any of the heat."

It actually sounds delicious.


It's $85 plus $35 S+H in the USA for 750ml.

Serving suggestion: "With red grapefruit juice, topped with sparkling
water and cornichon as garnish"

I'm a little bummed that they take out the capsaicin, as I love spicy booze.

My current favorite is a spicy, sugar-free Old Fashioned:

2 shakes Hellfire bitters
2 shakes Angostura bitters
1 jigger decent bourbon

Orange zest (wipe over rim, squeeze into glass, then drop in the drink)
Serve over a whiskey rock in a lowball glass


⚙️ Mike Bloomberg helped the Sacklers launder their reputations

The Sackler family became some of the world's richest billionaires
through the actions of the family business, Purdue Pharma, which
committed a string of felonies as it conspired to addict the world to
its killer opioid, Oxycontin. The company's bribery of doctors,
scientific frauds, and corruption of its regulators allowed it to
kickstart the opioid epidemic, which has so far claimed 200,000 US
lives, more than were lost in Vietnam.

And yet, until very recently, the Sackler family was primarily known for
its art philanthropy, firehosing its money and name over some of the
world's most prominent art institutions. As the family's role in
corporate mass murder came to light, artists demanded that institutions
remove the Sackler name. It worked! Nan Goldin's stunt of showering the
Guggenheim with Sackler opioid prescriptions was just one of many
amazing actions.


The Louvre also removed every mention of the Sacklers from its spaces.


But you know who DIDN'T ditch the Sacklers as they were becoming social
pariahs? Guess who expressed rock solid billionaire class solidarity
with the poor, beleaguered plutes when their reputation laundry failed them?

Mike Bloomberg, of course!

As @propublica reports, when the Sacklers worried about their collapsing
reputations, they knew who to turn to: the ex-mayor whose return to his
news organization meant that reporters who chased billionaires were


While Bloomberg had been mayor, his newsroom created a "billionaires
team" that investigated the doings of the super-rich, including the
"Friends of Mike" (FOMs) whom everyone understood to be untouchable
under Bloomberg's management.

Upon his return, he heaped scorn upon these investigative reporters:
"Why is that news? Why do we have to probe into that stuff?" Mike's
return to the newsroom created "a culture of not wanting to upset

So naturally the Sacklers turned to him! And Bloomberg obliged. After
meeting with Mortimer Sackler, Bloomberg gave the Sacklers crisis
communications advice and helped them his old mayoral press secretary,
Stu Loeser. According to Bloomberg, Loeser was perfect because of his
new communications company's "political instincts and deep connections."

Loeser went on to work with the Sacklers as they pushed out the story
that opioid addiction was the fault of weak-willed criminal addicts, not
corporate drug-pushers.

Loeser now works as a Bloomberg presidential campaign spokesman.

With Bloomberg's help, the Sacklers were able to continue to leverage
their philanthropic donations to shore up their reputations,
particularly by embarking on joint projects with Bloomberg
Philanthropies. Bloomberg posed with Sackler heiresses at the opening of
the Sackler Wing of London's Serpentine Gallery (which eventually took
the Sackler name off the building), and then served as chair of the
Serpentine Sackler Galleries.

His news organization ran multiple, glowing stories about the Sacklers'
generosity, and continued to work closely with the Sackler families,
even as they were committing a string of crimes.

For example, money laundry to the tune of billions.


Fraudulent misrepresentations of the company's role in the opioid epidemic.


And giving some of the weirdest, most risible, most terrible testimony
in the history of corporate criminal depositions.


Just more Friends of Mike!


⚙️ Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with a climate plan as big as
the climate crisis

The climate crisis is an existential threat to our species (and many
other species besides). It turns out that Keynes was more prescient that
we knew. He proposed that you could start an economy by paying half the
unemployed to dig holes and the other half to fill them in. Instead, we
spent more than a century subsidizing our ancestors to dig up fossil
fuels and now we'll have to pay our descendants to spend 200-300 years
getting all that carbon back into the ground.

If we don't, our civilization will collapse and our species may go
extinct. There's no time for half-measures. That's why Bernie Sanders's
version of the Green New Deal is such a big deal.


He's the only leadership candidate whose plan actually confronts the
scale of the crisis.

The $16T (yes, TRILLION) plan includes $2.5T to convert all US energy to
renewables, "ending subsidies, mountaintop-removal coal mining, and the
import and export of fossil fuels."

He'll also ask the DoJ to investigate criminal frauds committed by
energy sector companies that spent millions to delay action on climate
by pumping out disinformation along with their CO2.

The budget also includes $2T for a retrofit of our homes and workplaces,
$1T to retrofit roads and other infrastructure.

There's $3.6T to convert the US's vehicles to electric, $85B for
charging stations and $100B to improve electric car manufacture.

There's $900B for mass transit and high-speed rail, and $150B to improve
emissions from aviation and marine transport.

In all, the plan creates "20 million jobs, while offering wage
guarantees, job training, and other assistance to displaced energy workers."

As James Temple writes in MIT Tech Review, there are some odd quirks,
like a rejection of carbon capture, but these are issues in the margin
that administrative agencies staffed by independent experts (not
corporate shills) might tweak.

But this is the plan we need. Remember, no one ever asked how we'd pay
for WWII, and a Nazi victory would have merely put half the human race
in mortal peril, while the climate crisis threatens us all, and without
the hope of regime change down the road.

The purpose of the economy, the justification for markets, is that they
promote human prosperity and progress. Scratching in flooded rubble for
canned goods and drinking your own urine is not "progress." If our
spreadsheets can't figure out how to allocate capital to heading off an
extinction-level event, we need new spreadsheets. As our friends at
Prager "University" like to remind us, "facts don't care about your


⚙️ Cutting the UK housing subsidy led to massive homelessness payouts

Margaret Thatcher sold off council houses to create more Tories, on the
theory that home ownership made you a Conservative. But the end of
council estates just meant that private landlords were able to gouge
local governments for substandard housing for poor people. Predictably,
this only worsened, with rents spiraling for poorly maintained,
dangerous housing. Eventually, David Cameron got a genius idea: he'd cut
how much money families could spend on private rent.

After all, this was much more politically feasible than ordering
landlords to provide decent housing at a fair price. Landlords make
campaign contributions and vote Tory, and a majority of Tory MPs are
landlords themselves.


By contrast, council tenants vote Labour and are (by definition) too
poor to bribe politicians. Just as with Thatcher's selloff, the outcome
of Cameron's policy was totally predictable to anyone whose wealth
didn't depend on their denying it.

People couldn't pay their rent, so they became homeless.

You know what's more expensive than paying rent for poor people? Helping
homeless people. The savings from Cameron's cruel policy of limiting
rent subsidies were totally wiped out by the millions more that local
governments had to pay to find temporary shelter for the wave of
homelessness Cameron had created.

That's not all, of course. Voter turnout among affected households
plummeted, and when they did vote, it was in the Brexit referendum,
where the housing benefit cuts strongly correlated with a Leave vote:
"We also observe that a one standard deviation increase in the level of
exposure to the cut in a district is associated with up to a 2.2
percentage point greater level of support for 'Leave'."


The inability of the British private sector to build affordable housing
and the unwillingness of the public sector to fill in the gap has
produced a ghastly quality of life. In Camden, £1500/month gets you a
27sqm "flat" whose bed is literally a mattress wedged next to the toilet.


And yet, Greater London has never had a better ratio of bedrooms to
people. It's just that HALF the beds in the region are empty on any
given night. But with 60% of the UK national wealth represented by
property in the southeast, the last thing the Tories want to do is fix
this misallocation, which has been such a boon to the ownership class.



⚙️ This day in history

#8yrsago In Minecraft, a fountain of cats at the top of the world

#8yrsago Smithsonian building archive of printable 3D scans

#8yrsago Finance industry bemoans hard times in an era of reduced

#4yrsago Crapgadget apocalypse: the IoT devices that punch through your
firewall and expose your network

#4yrsago Press looks the other way as thousands march for Sanders in 45+

#4yrsago FBI claims it has no records of its decision to delete its
recommendation to encrypt your phone


⚙️ Colophon

Today's top sources: Alice Taylor (https://twitter.com/wonderlandblog),
Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/) and Slashdot

Hugo nominators! My story "Unauthorized Bread" is eligible in the
Novella category and you can read it free on Ars Technica:

Upcoming appearances:

* Canada Reads Kelowna: March 5, 6PM, Kelowna Library, 1380 Ellis
Street, with CBC's Sarah Penton

Currently writing: I just finished a short story, "The Canadian
Miracle," for MIT Tech Review. It's a story set in the world of my next
novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. I'm getting geared up to start work on the novel now,
though the timing is going to depend on another pending commission (I've
been solicited by an NGO) to write a short story set in the world's

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: Gopher: When Adversarial Interoperability Burrowed Under
the Gatekeepers' Fortresses:

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 very
special, s00per s33kr1t intro.

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