[Plura-list] Attack Surface a la carte; Kapital! The board game; Private equity's new debt-and-loot bonanza

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Thu Sep 17 14:43:54 EDT 2020

Today's links

* Attack Surface a la carte: Kickstarter is not a shopping cart.

* Kapital! The board game: France's new national obsession.

* Private equity's new debt-and-loot bonanza: "Divi recaps" is plute for

* This day in history: 2010, 2015, 2019

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


🦺 Attack Surface a la carte

I'm a Kickstarter noob, so when I launched my first campaign, for the
audiobook of my next novel, ATTACK SURFACE (the third Little Brother
book), I made some newbie mistakes.


Chief among these was the structure of the rewards. I'm pre-selling the
audio and the ebook for Attack Surface and the audio and ebooks of
Little Brother and Homeland, the books that proceeded it, and for some
reason I thought backers could just mix-and-match among them.

I was wrong! You can only choose one backer reward! Kickstarter is not a
shopping basket. Duh.

Luckily, Kickstarter has a new, experimental feature called "Add-Ons"
that let you (yes) add on a supplemental reward to existing ones.

So I added on add-ons! If you've already backed the campaign and you
want to add any individual ebook or audiobook, you can go back and do so
- and naturally if you're backing the campaign for the first time, you
can mix and match as you see fit.

Look, the campaign is going REALLY well. It's only minutes away from
breaking $200,000 (!!).

My publishers had a plan to offer a free audio/ebook of FORCE
MULTIPLIER, a new Little Brother story, to pre-orderers, but they've
been overwhelmed by your Kickstarter orders. (!!!)

So with their permission, I've changed plans. *Every single backer, at
any level, will automatically get Force Multiplier as an audiobook and
ebook*, with no further action needed on anyone's part. It'll be
automatically added to your order at the end of the campaign.

I am incredibly honored, humbled, gratified and elated by your
generosity and support. I still want to crack 10,000 backers, which, I
think, will seriously alter the dynamics between major publishers and


But whether or not that happens (and I think it will!) this has been an
unqualified success, and it's down to you folks. Thank you.



🦺 Kapital! The board game

France's hottest new boardgame is "Kapital!", created by "celebrity
sociologists" Michel Pinçon and Monique Pinçon-Charlot to help players
"understand, apprehend, and even experience the sociological mechanisms
of domination."


Players compete to amass different kinds of capital: "financial capital,
cultural capital, social capital, and symbolic capital," and dominant
players strive to avoid "General Strike" while other players pray for

Apparently it's not just symbolic and zeitgeisty, but also a great
board-game, with Board Game Geek giving it a rave:


If it sounds familiar it may be that you, like me, were raised my
Marxists who kept a copy of Avalon Hill's classic "Class Struggle" board
game around the house.


I haven't played it in decades, but a recent review reminds me that its
creator, Bertel Ollman, has quite a history: "He was Sean Hannity’s NYU
professor. Hannity accused Ollman of giving him a poor grade at NYU for
being a conservative."



🦺 Private equity's new debt-and-loot bonanza

Private equity sounds like just another source of investment capital,
like venture capital or hedge funds, but while these can be incredibly
destructive and toxic, private equity has perfected destroying the real
economy, ruining lives and making rich people richer.

PE is fundamentally about destroying real value and converting it to
wealth for already-rich people.

Here's the core play: buy a company, load it up with debt, fire
employees, cut wages and squeeze suppliers.


Value is transferred from productive businesses and workers to partners,
bankers and lawyers in coastal cities. New monies flow in through
lobbying, litigation, price-hikes and pension fund looting, paid out as
dividends and consulting fees.

Companies acquired by PE funds see sharp debt hikes, slowed revenue
growth, and plummeting capex.

PE is behind so much of what's wrong in the world today, from looting
Canada's beloved Mountain Equipment Co-Op:


To gutting hospitals and especially emergency rooms, a trend that
INCREASED after the pandemic started:


They killed Sears, Toys-R-Us and Hertz:


and they're coming for your pension:


The US Government kicked off an incredible debt bonanza when it
announced that it would buy corporate bonds, no matter how crappy the
company's fundamentals were, leaving the largest firms awash in
effectively free cash.

Naturally, PE - which never met a debt it didn't like - hopped on board.
The latest PE craze is dividend recapitalisations ("divi recaps"), AKA
"borrowing crazy amounts of money on behalf of a company and then just
sticking it in your pocket."


ONE QUARTER of all US debt raised in September went to divi recaps (it
was 4% over the past two years). That's *four billion dollars this month*.

Oh, then there's this: "investors express concern over loose
documentation underpinning the loans, offering little protection to
investors should a company end up in trouble." -Joe Rennison, Financial

What could possibly go wrong?

This is the true heart of the "zombie economy" - an economy that
"improves" whenever sociopaths destroy its productive capacity:



🦺 This day in history

#10yrsago Intel threatens lawsuits against HDCP jailbreakers

#5yrsago Ex-mayor of Bismark, ND trademarks alternatives to "Fighting
Sioux" in bid to prevent UND team from switching to non-racist name

#5yrsago Irving police violated Ahmed Mohamed's civil rights

#5yrsago 3D print your own TSA Travel Sentry keys and open anyone's

#5yrsago Campus cops: all the powers of real cops, none of the

#5yrsago Watch Ahmed Mohamed's awesome press conference about being a
rogue clockmaker in America https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nckRlLlyfec

#5yrsago Do you really trade your privacy for service on Facebook?

#1yrago The Babysitter's Coven


🦺 Colophon

Today's top sources:

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 566 words (62108

Currently reading: Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Latest podcast: IP https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/09/14/ip/

Upcoming appearances:

* Keynote for Law Via the Internet conference, Sept 22,

* DWeb Meetup — If Big Tech Is Toxic, How Do We Build Something Better?
Sept 22,

* Writing into an Uncertain Future, Afterwords Festival, Oct 1,

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

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