[Plura-list] Happy World Standards Day or not; Progressives demand ban on corporate execs in government

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sun Oct 18 13:34:28 EDT 2020


Monday's Attack Surface Lecture: Cyberpunk and Post-Cyberpunk with Bruce
Sterling and Christopher Brown

Full schedule:


Today's links

* Happy World Standards Day or not: A multi-gauge muddle to top all
multi-gauge muddles.

* Progressives demand ban on corporate execs in government: Change we
can actually believe in.

* This day in history: 2005, 2010

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


🥫 Happy World Standards Day or not

Standardization is an amazing and terrible thing. Standards are easy to
appreciate when they benefit you, and when standards aren't present,
things get pretty awful, both immediately and enduringly.

Think of Australia's "mixed gauge muddle" - a continent-wide
standardization fail in which rail gauges abruptly shift, meaning that
cargo and passengers have to be transferred from one car/engine to another.


A century and a half on, the muddle still isn't resolved (though there's
finally real progress in the form of tearing up and replacing thousands
of kilometers of rail) (yowch).

My whole career in tech, first as a founder, and then as an activist,
has been spent fighting fuckery in standards orgs, as giant companies
seek to enshrine a permanent advantage, at public expense, by subverting

In fact, as far as I can tell, today may be the 20th anniversary of my
first foray into standards-based fuckery!


Twenty years of standards-body meetings has given me a healthy respect
for the good work of standardization, and a deep and abiding trauma from
standards processes that go awry due to greed, personal hubris, or
dysfunctional personalities.

Which is why I laughed aloud and then wept a little when I happened upon
this nugget today: Oct 14 is World Standards Day, according to the IEC,
ISO and ITU.


But not according to ANSI, which observes World Standards *Week*, Oct
19-23, along with NIST.




🥫 Progressives demand ban on corporate execs in government

My theory of US political equilibrium: both parties would like to please
their donors, partly because it gives them the finance to win elections,
and partly because individual party apparats want fat lobbyist or
think-tank gigs after a stint in government.

But the donor class's goals are all antithetical to human thriving:
eking out a few basis points of growth in the fortunes of monopolists or
their shareholder is only possible by making millions of already
hard-done-by voters worse off.

The equilibrium, then, is to fuck over voters enough to please the donor
class, but not so much that they grow discouraged and stay home, or,
worse, switch sides. AKA: the 2016 election.


This isn't a static calculus, though. You can offset
fucking-over-the-base measures by throwing them red meat. That's Amy
Coney Barrett all over: her SCOTUS career will deliver a terrible
harrowing to the GOP base's lives.

She's all in on total impunity for polluters, workplace maimers, and
price-gougers. If a bankster steals your house or farm in a couple
years, if you are crippled by a piece of poorly maintained workplace
machinery, or if you die of dioxin poisoning, it'll be thanks to ACB.

But ACB will *also* help make forced pregnancy the law of the land, and
return to bigots the right to practice cruel and gratuitous
discrimination against queer and brown people. She's an ideal nominee
for getting slugs to vote for salt.

The plutes who are funneling hundreds of millions in dark money to the
campaign to seat her before the election aren't opening their wallets to
ban abortion or undo marriage equality: they're all in for pollution and
workplace maiming and finance crime impunity.

All the race- and gender-based cruelty is just an offset, the price of
admission for securing the right to commit corporate murder for profit.

Now, of course, this calculus cuts both ways, and is practiced with
equal cynicism by Dem power-brokers.

When the rival party's candidate is especially horrible, ousting him
acts as an offset unto itself: that is, the worse Trump is for human
thriving, the worse the Dems' candidate can be for human thriving, too.
The GOP candidate may scare the Dem base into voting *against* him.

And FOR policies that are tilted towards the Dems' donor class - who are
also all-in on climate nihilism, impunity for finance crimes,
destruction of organized labor, and monopolies everywhere.

That's why the Dem establishment gave us all that thumb-scaling for a
candidate (whom, to be clear, I hope will win) who can barely string
together a sentence, has a terrible policy track-record, and an endless
trove of hairsniffing and other creepery.

Whatever else that candidate has done in his long and undistinguished
career, he has certainly delivered on policies that help the donor class
without regard to the cost in human thriving. They called him The
Senator for MBNA for a reason.

This is the true meaning of "triangulation": "How big a shit-sandwich
can we coerce the voters into supporting, given the size and
grotendousness of the shit-sandwich the *other* party put on the ballot?"

But I think that Trump may have broken this equilibrium, by being SO
terrible that the gifts he delivers to the donor class can't make up for
the chaotic destruction he delivers in his red meat initiatives like
mask-denial and transactional policymaking.

A Trump election doesn't just mean a shit-sandwich for voters, it also
means a shit-sandwich for many donors: cities crippled, travel
impossible, real-economy businesses destroyed. They are terrified of a
Trump win, too.


And now the progressive wing of the party is turning the tables, raising
the price of their support, betting that the  donors and their party
power-brokers will pony up rather than risk a second Trump term. You see
this in the changing Dem presidential platform.

And now, in a killer act of stakes-raising, a coalition of progressive
Dem politicians and groups have signed a letter demanding a ban on
"C-suite executives or corporate lobbyists" being given
"Senate-confirmed positions" in the next administration.


And while they delivered this letter to both Schumer and McConnell, it's
clearly meant as a signal to the Dem establishment and power-brokers
that corporate execs shouldn't rotate into government positions in order
to regulate their own industries.

“Just imagine explaining to the American people why those names, with
those affiliations, are unacceptable, but similar names with
similar-sounding affiliations are not only unobjectionable, but
necessary to the proper functioning of the federal government. The
revolving door needs to stop, not just change direction every few years."

That is some fucking change I can believe in.


🥫 This day in history

#15yrsago Dear ASCAP: May I sing Happy Birthday for my dad’s 75th?

#15yrsago 100 oldest .COM names in the registry

#10yrsago Beautiful failed typewriter design: the writing ball

#10yrsago Koja’s UNDER THE POPPY: dark, epic and erotic novel of war and


🥫 Colophon

Today's top sources: Dozens (https://tiny.tilde.website/@dozens), Naked
Capitalism (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/).

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Friday's progress: 519 words (73931 total).

Currently reading: Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 17)

Upcoming appearances:

* The Attack Surface Lectures: 8 nights of bookstore-hosted events in
which I and a massive group of entertaining and knowledgeable experts
discourse on my latest novel's themes, Oct 13-22

* Milehicon (Guest of Honor!), Oct 23-5, https://milehicon.org/

* Coding Democracy/Toronto International Festival of Authors, Oct 24

Recent appearances:

* SRSLY WRONG: Stop Techno Dystopia!

* Judge John Hodgman: "The Doctorow Doctrine"

* Savage Lovecast

Latest book:

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a

* "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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