[Plura-list] Alvim Correa's War of the Worlds illustrations; America's corporate lobbyists want a bailout; Sacrifice banks to save businesses

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Wed May 6 12:44:43 EDT 2020


Reminder that I'm doing a keynote at the Republica (online) festival
tomorrow, May 7: https://re-publica.tv/de/session/collapse


Today's links

* Alvim Corrêa's War of the Worlds illustrations: They started as fan art.

* America's corporate lobbyists want a bailout: It's the political
version of the human centipede.

* Sacrifice banks to save businesses: Either we nerf landlords and banks
to save businesses and jobs, or the businesses and jobs will collapse
and take out landlords and banks.

* Scarfolk death statistics: Juking the stats.

* Chef paints portrait of every meal he eats: Itsuo Kobayashi has been
at it for 32 years.

* Appeals court says Miami jail doesn't need to provide soap: When
waiting for your hearing becomes a death sentence.

* Ohio's got snitchline for bosses whose workers who won't go back:
Reopen and/or die.

* Magic Puzzles: From Max "Cards Against Humanity" Temkin and friends.

* This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019

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


🕵️‍♂️ Alvim Corrêa's War of the Worlds illustrations

The French edition of HG Wells's War of the Worlds was published in
1900, and after several successful editions, it was reprinted in 1906
with illustrations from the Brazilian artist Henrique Alvim Corrêa.

They're superb.


Even more interesting: Corrêa did the first batch of illustrations on
spec, and went to London to pitch them to Wells in 1903. Wells insisted
that a forthcoming Belgian edition include Corrêa's art: "Alvim Corrêa
did more for my work with his brush than I with my pen."

Corrêa's illustrations are far superior to the original drawings that
Warwick Goble did for the first English edition:


As the Public Domain Review writes, "There is something visceral about
almost all of Corrêa’s images... The illustration of the Martians
training their fiery death beam may be familiar to us from 1000 comic
books but it also conjures visions of the very real Great War to come."


🕵️‍♂️ America's corporate lobbyists want a bailout

94.5% of the $349B that Congress appropriated for the small business
Payroll Protection Plan went to giant, well-heeled corporations that
raked in millions, while most small businesses got $0 after the fund ran
out of money.


So Congress appropriated a *second* tranche of money, bringing the total
up to $660B. Most of that *also* went to well-heeled corporations and
not struggling small businesses.

For example, the $40,000/year Brentwood School in LA (which boasts a
massive endowment) got $5.2M. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's kids are

Another PPP recipient: St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, MD,
which is attended by Barron Trump.


Who deserves small business bailout money even less?

How about literal K-Street lobbyists who represent the fattest, most
monopolistic corporations in the country, spending millions to bribe
Congress and the administration to nerf health, safety, and labor



The American Society of Association Executives (a lobby group for people
who run lobby groups) (no, seriously), has written to Congress demanding
that they get a bailout.


Its signatories include swell fellows like Chet Thompson of the American
Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Association, whose salary of $1.8
million rewards him for his fine work on behalf of "Exxon, Koch
Industries, and Motiva Enterprises, the U.S. arm of Saudi Aramco."

In Wisconsin, the state branch of the US Chamber of Commerce is seeking
bailouts for some of the most freespending legislative suborners in the


For example, the American Chemistry Council, which employs 64 lobbyists
and "spends lavishly on campaign-style television advertisements for
favored lawmakers."

And, of course, the corporate wing of the Democrats are reaching across
the aisle to give public funding to industry groups that seek to
influence public policy.

Both Rep Stephanie Murphy [D-FL] and Rep Ami Bara [D-CA] pledged to help
relax PPP rules to secure public funding for corporate lobbyists.


So did Rep Dina Titus [D-NV]:


Meanwhile, Rep Raja Krishnamoorthi [D-IL] expressed support for a
bailout that would include the National Association of Concessionaires,
which used millions from Coca Cola and Hershey to block nutrition
labeling and rules on sugary foods.


"There is no time to wait...time is of the essence." -Rep Raja


🕵️‍♂️ Sacrifice banks to save businesses

Richard J Murphy is well-poised to talk about the economics of the
pandemic and post-pandemic; he's co-founder of the Green New Deal,
Director of the Tax Research Network, and a political economy prof at
City University London.

His longread on how the pandemic will either wipe out businesses and
workers, or banks and landlords (and if the former, eventually the
latter) is also a must-read:


As Yves Smith writes, "Murphy’s argument, in essence, is that [banks and
landlords] are toast under any scenario, and they can’t be allowed to
weigh down the productive sectors of the economy."


Here's the argument, best as I can summarize it: property values in the
UK are grossly inflated.

(in Danny Dorling's 2014 "All That is Solid," there's sobering stats on
this, with something like 60% of all UK wealth being property in the
London area)


Related to inflated property values: 85% of all bank-loans are
collateralized with property.

tldr: The rent's too damned high, and if it wasn't, the banks would

On to businesses and workers: businesses are paying too much rent.
They're going to come back from the crisis burdened with debt and with
too-high operating costs. If they continue paying rent at prices that
can sustain the landlords' debt service, they will fail.

If they fail, workers' jobs will disappear, and that will trigger a
collapse in property prices and then the banking sector.

So, as Smith says, either we save workers and businesses and sacrifice
landlords and banks, or we'll lose workers, businesses, landlords and banks.

Murphy's argument, then, is that lawmakers should declare statutory rent
holidays, and reduce rents by 80% thereafter, and nationalize the banks
when this causes a wave of defaults on property-collateralized loans.

Murphy points out that if you let landlords fail, there will still be
properties that businesses can operate out of and workers can work at
that can serve the productive economy.

But if you let businesses fail, the businesses just disappear, and they
don't come back, and neither do the jobs - and then the landlords are
wiped out and the banks fail anyway.

He says that nationalizing the banks can even save landlords, through "a
right to a statutory reduction in loan liabilities so that the sum
secured on a property cannot exceed its market value, whatever that
might be in the future...subject to periodic reviews."

Other landlord-saving measures:

* "Statutory bank (and other) loan deferral arrangements of two years"

* "Interest only arrangements...subject to the right to roll it up as
part of the balance if it is necessary for the borrower to get through this"

Murphy sees no alternative: "right now most businesses in the UK cannot
be profitable unless major costs and cash flow outgoings are immediately
removed from their overheads."

Today, HMG is "preserv[ing] the appearance of value and wealth that is
implicit in our overinflated property values at present, which also
underpin all UK banking" at the expense of "the ability of this country
to make a living."

The reduction in property values is inevitable. Once the property market
thaws, the prices will tumble for new rents/sales, Murphy says "the old
ones should follow suit."

"If we want an economy that generates income in the future then the
blunt fact is that we now have to trash our balance sheet. Or rather, we
have to accept that it has already been trashed and now deal with the

Irrespective of whether the government intervenes, the bank losses will
vastly exceed their capital reserves, by many multiples. 85% of loans
are collateralized with grossly overvalued property whose prices are
about to tumble. All those loans will be underwater.

"Every single bank in this country, and across the world in all
likelihood, will be insolvent. No bank will survive without

Part of this will involve wiping out part of the highest-value deposits.

Murphy says that any depositor whose "beneficial ownership cannot be
proven" should be wiped out.  And any claims "from a tax haven there
should also be a considerable haircut."

He also predicts that come what may, the UK's £6T in pension wealth will
be devastated, as so much of it based on property speculation (but he
points out that the property will still be there when it's all over, at
much lower values).

But he says that keeping pensioners afloat requires keeping the
productive economy going (so it can afford a new, liveable state
pension), and that requires that we wipe out banks now, rather than
waiting for them to take businesses and jobs down with them.

The pandemic forces us to reckon with the fact that "value creation does
not come from financialisation, or balance sheet manipulation...it comes
from work, which produces value as a consequence of the inherent worth
of the activities undertaken."

Murphy believes we can rebuild society, "if we recognise there is no
magic way to do so: financialisation as a source of value creation [is]
a myth. It is work alone that generates value, and even then it can only
do so if we respect the constraintsnature imposes upon us."

And to reiterate, Murphy says that the medium-term choice isn't between
banks/landlords and businesses/workers - rather, it's between saving
*any* of them, or letting them all collapse.


🕵️‍♂️ Scarfolk death statistics

Scarfolk is Richard Littler's extended art project, producing materials
from a English nightmare town that is trapped in a loop in the
Thatcherite seventies. It's a beautiful reckoning with the long-term
effects of the hollowing out and financialisation of Thatcherism.

Which brings me to today's installment, "Death Statistics," a grimly
accurate satire of how the Tories calculate the deaths that occurred on
their watch, after they ignored expert advice to pursue the disastrous
"herd immunity" programme.


"Figure does not include 5,059 unauthorised passings, 10,286 sudden life
discontinuations, 9,927 deaths due to an undisclosed cause, 2,576 deaths
as a result of mandatory culls, 4,768 deaths of people with foreign
names, ..., 500 deaths within an 11 mile radius of pet shops, 12,400
deaths of people who were too old, 994 deaths occurring between 3pm &
5pm on Saturday the 17ths of May in the town square during a prohibited
anti-government protest."

"For more information please reread."


🕵️‍♂️ Chef paints portrait of every meal he eats

Itsuo Kobayashi is a Japanese chef and painter. For 32 years, he's
painted a top-down portrait of every meal he's eaten, along with notes
on the food. The project started out as a food diary, with illustrations
coming later.


When he was 46, Kobayashi became disabled as a result of alcoholic
neuritis, which severely impairs his mobility. The experience made the
paintings all the more important for him.

His work debuted in the US in January at the Outsider Art Fair in NYC,
where paintings sold for $500-$3000.
(Images: Kushino Terrace


🕵️‍♂️ Appeals court says Miami jail doesn't need to provide soap

On Tues, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a Miami judge and
held that the Metro West Detention Center was not obliged to provide
soap or covid testing for inmates.


Charles Hobbes was a Miami jail inmate. He had coronavirus. He died last


In overturning the order, the appellate majority wrote "The injunction
hamstrings [corrections] officials with years of experience running
correctional facilities, and the elected officials they report to, from
acting with dispatch to respond to this unprecedented pandemic."

Mass incarceration "poses a uniquely American risk" during the pandemic.
2.3m people are incarcerated in America. 4% of the world lives in
America. 21% of the world's prisoners are locked up in America.


8 out of the 10 largest outbreaks in America are in its prisons. The
ACLU estimates that at least 100,000 coronavirus deaths among prisoners
have not been counted.


For more, check out the ACLU's spreadsheet, "Death By Incarceration,"
which counts and names the prisoners who've died



🕵️‍♂️ Ohio's got snitchline for bosses whose workers who won't go back

Ohio is "re-opening," which is a euphemism for "deliberately risking
lives to keep businesses solvent."

It is not safe to do so. Workers will sicken. Some will die. Customers
will sicken. Some will die. The contagion will spread to states beyond Ohio.

This is a catastrophically terrible decision. What's more, it's a
decision that is apt to be rejected by large numbers of workers, who
will refuse to show up because they don't want to die, and they don't
want to risk the lives of their family and community members.

This is actually happening in places that have declared the emergency to
be over while the emergency is not over: workers aren't working,
shoppers aren't shopping. No one wants to be thrown into the volcano to
appease the economy gods.

But Ohio has a plan. The state has set up a snitchline that bosses can
use to narc out workers who won't risk their lives. Workers who are
snitched upon lose their unemployment benefits and risk starvation and
losing their homes.


This is just a continuation of the path that the USG has followed from
the start. Workers get a $1200 "liquidity bridge" that is supposed to
tide them over for *ten weeks*, while large businesses get unlimited
billions in helicopter money.


Getting workers to risk their lives for the stagnated wages they pull
down doesn't rely on carrots, it relies on sticks. The threat of
starvation and homelessness is meant to terrorize them more than the
threat of dying from coronavirus.

If it works, we're all fucked. An America where *some* people are
sacrificed to infection with a highly contagious disease is an America
where *everyone* gets the disease.

You can't have a swimming pool with a "pissing" and "no pissing" end.


🕵️‍♂️ Magic Puzzles

"Magic Puzzles" is a Kickstarter from Max Temkin and some magician and
illustrator pals. They created three 1,000-piece jigsaws where each
piece is designed to stand alone as an interesting, detailed image.


More than that, when each puzzle is completed, it creates a "magic
trick." They won't say what the trick is (because they don't want to
spoil it), but the reaction videos of playtesters discovering the trick
are pretty compelling!

The puzzles are $20 each or $50 for all three. They've racked up tons of
pre-orders and estimate delivery in Oct. There's always a risk in
backing crowdfunders, but Max is part of the Cards Against Humanity team
and has a solid track record for Getting Stuff Done.


🕵️‍♂️ This day in history


#10yrsago Roy Lichtenstein's estate claims copyright over the images he

#10yrsago Naked scanner reveals airport screener's tiny penis, sparks
steel baton fight with fellow officers

#5yrsago Legal threat against security researcher claims he violated
lock's copyright

#5yrsago Mass protests, brutal crackdown in Macedonia

#5yrsago Amazon drops "Boy" and "Girl" categories from toy listings

#1yrago Apple's growth strategy is a textbook case of antitrust abuse

#1yrago Mooing NZ opposition leader denies making "barnyard noise"

#1yrago How the diverse internet became a monoculture

#1yrago People with diabetes are scouring the internet for a
discontinued insulin pump that can be reprogrammed as an "artificial

#1yrago Facebook hands hundreds of contractors in India access to its
users' private messages and private Instagram posts in order to help
train an AI

#1yrago "Steering With the Windshield Wipers": why nothing we're doing
to fix Big Tech is working


🕵️‍♂️ Colophon

Today's top sources: Max Temkin (https://maxistentialism.com/), Kottke
(https://kottke.org), Julie K Brown (https://twitter.com/jkbjournalist),
Parker Higgins (https://twitter.com/xor).

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 539 words (11926

Currently reading: Facebook: The Inside Story, by Steven Levy.

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 02)

Upcoming appearances:
May 7: The Collapse, Re:publica https://re-publica.tv/de/session/collapse
 May 9: Being Civil With Security Experts, Essence of Wonder,

Upcoming appearances:

* May 7: The Collapse, Re:publica https://re-publica.tv/de/session/collapse

* May 9: Being Civil With Security Experts, Essence of Wonder,

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

"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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