[Plura-list] A New American Manifesto; Adventures of a Dwergish Girl; Trudeau promises massive covid stimulus

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Fri Sep 25 10:23:07 EDT 2020


You've got just 13 days left to get the audiobook for ATTACK SURFACE
(the third Little Brother book) for a mere $15 by preordering it on my
first-ever Kickstarter. After that, the price goes up to $25!



Today's links

* A New American Manifesto: "Adapted from the Declaration of Independence."

* Adventures of a Dwergish Girl: Daniel Pinkwater scores a bullseye on
the absurd-normalcy firing range.

* Trudeau promises massive covid stimulus: Fool me twice, you're the
Prime Minister.

* This day in history: 2005, 2015, 2019

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


🍒 A New American Manifesto

In case you'd forgotten just how subversive and angry the Declaration of
Independence actually is, in case the words have turned into hollow
platitudes due to repetition and archaic language, feast your senses
upon "A New American Manifesto."


Absurdist Words has updated the Declaration into contemporary, informal
language, updating the references for eerie correspondences to our
current political fights:

> Here are the Receipts:

> 1. He is lawless. He has no respect whatsoever for the rules of this

> 2. He has interfered with state Governors’ abilities to take care of
their states in times of crisis, constantly breaking promises and being
unreliable, just to wear them down so that they will do whatever he
wants and then neglects them even when they do it

> 3. He has abused the powers of the Presidency, leveraging people’s
rights for business purposes.

> 4. He turns public events into personal campaign stunts, wearing all
the rational people down with his antics and erratic behavior...

>...We tried to be empathetic to those who support Trump and his
nationalism. We tried to give them the heads up that they had made a
terrible choice. We tried to remind them that many of them were
immigrants and that they should think twice about how we deny others
entry. We tried to appeal to their sense of honor. To their sense of
civics. To their sense of duty. We tried to appeal to the fact that
we’re all in this together and that we are all one nation. We tried to
explain that backing authoritarianism would be terrible for everyone.But
they wouldn’t listen. We tried. We wanted to fight Trump together. But
they mock justice and shun the idea of unity. So nothing personal, but
they picked a side.


🍒 Adventures of a Dwergish Girl

Few authors have had as much influence on my progress as a human being -
to say nothing of my writing - as Daniel Pinkwater. The course of my
life was profoundly altered by reading Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy From
Mars in middle school, and I have read dozens of his books since.

I find that many distinctive authors circle themes and plots, like a
cannoneer rangefinding with artillery, trying to bullseye some
impossible-to-define perfect target. I county myself in that group, and
I definitely count Pinkwater there.

I can't tell you exactly what it is he's trying to hit, but every book
seems to come closer to some irreducible Pinkwaterian ideal, and his
latest, Adventures of a Dwergish Girl, is the closest he's come yet.


First, let me attempt* to summarize the plot. Dwergs are basically a
magical race inhabiting the Hudson Valley. They're something like
Tolkien's dwarves, but not. Male dwergs are pretty odd-looking and
rarely venture into the world.

*"Attempt" is doing a lot of work here.

But female Dwergs, like protagonist Molly O'Malley, can pass for
short-ish humans, albeit with very large feet and the ability to move
with uncanny speed through the woods near Kingston, NY.

Molly can't abide the sameness and dullness of life in the unchanging,
eternal Dwergish village of her birth, so she moves to Kingston, NY,
where she befriends Arnold Babatunji, a Naples-obsessed restaurateur who
runs the Hudson Valley's greatest pizzeria, who hires Molly.

For a time, life is good. Molly learns about pizza, pals around with a
former boy-genius who runs the village radio station, and sleeps in a
forest dwelling of her own devising, supplementing her income with the
cash from the lumpy Dwergish gold coin she's pawned.

But the pawn-broker is tied up with gangsters - some of them ghosts,
some living - and then Molly befriends Leni, an indigenous girl whose
people have lived in the Catskills since time immemorial.

Leni tempts Molly to ride the Greyhound to NYC, where she rides the
subway, and, more importantly, samples the indescribable wonderments of
papaya juice and all-beef franks, which change her life.

And of course, while in New York, Molly encounters Carlos Chatterjee, a
Revolutionary War reenactor who runs a spectacular junk shoppe on the
mezzanine of an uptown MTA station.

Carlos turns out to be crucial to the resolution of Molly's main
challenge, which is the transdimensional meat-robots in British redcoat
uniforms who seem to be bent on reenacting the 1777 burning of Kingston

Averting this disaster is a big project for Molly, who enlists the
Catskills Witch (who has moved to Manhattan) and the semi-mythical King
of the Dwergs, who uses bee-style waggle-dancing to advise them.

This is a book with:




My all-time favorite place to eat in NYC is Shopsins. Pinkwater novels
are like expanded Shopsins menus.  Motto: "nothing exceeds like excess."
But this isn't mere kitchen-sinkery: it's skilled wunderkammering, a
carefully curated study in contrasts.


Pinkwater insists that his books aren't "weird" and even bristles at the


I take him to mean that he's describing the world as he perceives it,
not adding any weirdness. We live in a weird place. 2020 certainly
proves that hypothesis.

I think there's something to this - the thing that makes Pinkwater's
work so great is his ability to describe the everyday absurdity in terms
that make it clear how weird normalcy is (and vice-versa).

That's definitely Dwergish Girl's charm. I read this to my 12 year old,
who is way too cool to be getting bedtime stories of her old, irrelevant
father's favorite weird writers.

Every night, she insisted that she didn't want me to read from it. Every
night, she begged for another chapter when I was done (and interrupted
repeatedly to ask incisive questions about the Revolutionary war, papaya
juice, ghosts, radio announcers, etc).

Pinkwater's got The Magic (whatever that is) and he keeps getting better
at it.


🍒 Trudeau promises massive covid stimulus

Canadian Prime Ministers have a fun gambit: when things start to go
really badly for them, they "prorogue" (suspend) Parliament, which
dissolves all committees, inquiries, etc, until such time as they are
ready to reconvene, with a tabula rasa.

Most egregiously, the far-right asshole and climate criminal Stephen
Harper prorogued Parliament in the middle of the 2008 Great Financial
Crisis in order to avoid a no-confidence vote that would have triggered
new elections.


While this DID save Harper's bacon, it also left Canada without a
legislature during a global crisis that threatened the nation's entire
future. It was a crazed, reckless thing to do.

Canada has a safeguard to prevent this kind of gambit: as a
constitutional monarchy, Canadian parliamentary manoeuvres have to
receive the Crown's blessing, in the form of assent from the Governor
General, the Queen's rep to Canada.

This is the sober, apolitical adult supervision that fans of
constitutional monarchies are always banging on about, and then-Governor
General Michaëlle Jean completely failed to do her fucking job, leaving
Canada without a Parliament during the GFC. She literally had one job.

Proroguing Parliament didn't just save Harper from a no-confidence vote:
it also dissolved all the Parliamentary inquiries underway at the time,
including the "Afghan detainee transfer" affair, which was investigating
Canadian forces' complicity in the torture-murder of POWs.

In many ways, Trudeau is the anti-Harper: a charismatic Liberal who
tells refugees they're welcome in Canada, marches with Greta Thunberg,
and appoints the first-ever First Nations person to serve as Attorney
General .

Truly, there is no policy so progressive that Trudeau won't endorse
it...provided he doesn't actually have to make it into policy. Because
many of his policies are indistinguishable from Harperism, albeit with a
better haircut.

This started before he won the election, when Trudeau (whose father once
declared martial law!) whipped his MPs to vote for a
human-rights-denying mass surveillance bill, C-51.

Trudeau did so while insisting that the bill was a massive overreach and
totally unacceptable, but claiming that the "loyal opposition" should
still back it so as not to be accused of being soft on terrorism in the
coming election. He promised to repeal it after.

Of course, he didn't.

Trudeau is often compared to Obama, a young and charismatic fellow who
makes compromises, sure, but comes through in the clutch.

Tell that to pipeline protesters.

After the Obama administration killed the Transcanada Pipeline - the
continent-spanning tube that would make filthy, planet-destroying tar
sands profitable enough to bring to market - Trudeau bailed it out,
spending billions of federal dollars to keep it alive.

Then, Trudeau - who campaigned on nation-to-nation truth and
reconciliation with First Nations - announced that he would shove this
toxic tar-sand tube through unceded treaty lands across the breadth of
the naiton.

And then he had the *audacity* to march with Greta Thunberg at the head
of a climate march, demanding a change to policies that would see
billions dead in the coming century.

*His own* policies.

I mean, Trudeau's boosters have a point - Harper *never* could have
pulled that off.

The Harper years were a Trumpian orgy of blatant self-dealing and cronyism.

The Trudeau years, on the other hand...

One of Trudeau's major donors is SNC Lavalin, a crime syndicate
masquerading as a global engineering firm (think Halliburton with less

SNC Lavalin had done so much crime that it was on its final notice with
the Canadian legal sysem, a probation that it must not violate on
penalty of real, big boy federal criminal prosecutions.

Then it did more crimes.

Remember Trudeau's historic appointment of a First Nations woman to the
Attorney General's seat? Now was AG Jody Wilson-Raybould's moment to shine.

As Wilson-Raybould began aggressively pursuing these corporate
criminals, she started getting calls from Trudeau's office.

For avoidance of doubt, these were not calls of support. They were
demands to drop the case and let the SNC Lavalin crime syndicate get off
scot-free. Eventually the PM himself called her and demanded that she
give his cronies a pass on their repeated criminal actions.

Wilson-Raybould went public, decrying political meddling in the justice
system. Trudeau denied everything and began to smear her (Harper had
tons of scandals like this, BTW, only the counterpart was usually a rich
old white guy, not a First Nations woman).

But Wilson-Raybould had recorded the conversations, and she released the
recordings, and proved that Trudeau had lied about the whole thing.
Trudeau fired her and kicked her out of the party.

But at least he's not Trump, right? He's the anti-Trump! (Well, except
for the pipeline and that time he announced "No country would find 173
billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there").

Remember the Muslim Ban? As Trump was tormenting refugees at the US
border, Trudeau tweeted "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war,
Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our
strength #WelcomeToCanada."

Yes, that was awesome. There is no policy so progressive that Trudeau
won't endorse it...provided that he never has to do anything to make it

Canada and the US have a "Safe Third Country Agreement" that says that
asylum-seekers turned away from the US border can't try again in Canada.
To make #WelcomeToCanada more than a hashtag, Trudeau's government would
have to suspend that agreement.

Instead, Trudeau's government insisted that under Trump, "the conditions
of the Safe Third Country Agreement continued to be met" and thus they
would not suspend the agreement and give hearings to those turned away
by Trump's border guards.

But at least Trudeau handled the pandemic better than Harper handled the
Great Financial Crisis.

No, really, he did!


I mean, unless you were in a nursing home or on a First Nations


But still, Trudeau's government did a *much* better job than the Trump
government, or Boris Johnson's Tories. Neither Liberals nor
Conservatives will really fight cronyism, climate change or
authoritarianism, but there are still substantive differences between them.

But in some ways, they are depressingly similar.

Take corruption.

Long before the plague struck, Canadaland was publishing damning reports
on We Charity, a massive, beloved Canadian charitable institution
nominally devoted to ending child slavery.

Canadaland's initial reporting on the charity focused on its
partnerships with companies that were using child slaves to make their
products, but the investigations mushroomed after the charity sent dire
legal threats to the news organisation over its coverage.

And then Canadaland founder Jesse Brown found himself smeared by a US
dirty-tricks organization that got its start working for GOP
politicians, who got a contract to plant editorials criticizing
Canadaland's We coverage in small-town US newspapers.

Private eyes started following Brown around, even keeping tabs on his
small children. Rather than being intimidated, Brown kept up the
pressure on We, which prompted whistleblowers to leak him even more
details about the charity's activities.


These included massive, mysterious real-estate holdings, hard-to-excuse
criminal investigations of its Kenyan activities, and (here's where I've
been going with this all along) *giant cash payments* to Trudeau's
family, as well as valuable gifts to his Finance Minister.

And, as with the Wilson-Reybould affair, Trudeau's initial response to
this was to simply deny it, calling his accusers liars. But then the
scandal kept unspooling, his Finance Minister quit in disgrace, the
charity (sort of) folded up and shut down, and Trudeau...

Well, Trudeau prorogued Parliament, shutting down Canada's government in
the midst of a crisis that was - unimaginably - even worse than the 2008
crisis that Harper had left the nation rudderless through to avoid his
own scandal.

(Again, for constitutional monarchy fans, that's two entirely political
proroguings in the midsts of global crises, signed off on by the Queen's
supposedly apolitical and sober check on reckless activity)

Shutting down Parliament seems to have rescued Trudeau's government from
snap elections, which may well have been won by the Tories, who have
resolved their longstanding racist and plutocratic tensions with a new
ghoulish nightmare leader:


And, as Trudeau has reconvened Parliament, he's promised something
genuinely amazing: a massive, national stimulus package meant to keep
families, workers and small businesses afloat through the looming second
pandemic wave.


This is something Canada - and the US, for that matter - desperately
needs. Canada is monetarily sovereign: it issues its own currency and
its debt is in the same currency, meaning it can never run out of money
(no more than Apple could ever run out of Itunes gift cards).

The Canadian *does* face constraints on its spending, but they're just
not *monetary* constraints - they're *resource* constraints. If the
Canadian government creates money to buy the same things the private
sector is shopping for, there'll be a bidding war, AKA inflation.

But as a new wave of lockdowns and mass illness looms over the country,
there's going to be a hell of a lot of things the private sector isn't
trying to buy - notably, the labour of the Canadian workforce, millions
of whom will be locked indoors through the winter.

An analyst warns that Trudeau's proposal is likely to add CAD30B to the
deficit, which is a completely irrelevant fact unless that new money is
going to be chasing the same goods that Canadian business and citizens
are seeking to buy.

Trudeau has promised to create a national prescription drug plan (a
longstanding hole in Canada's national health care system), as well as
universal childcare, and he's denounced austerity as a response to the

There's a part of me that is very glad to see this. My family and
friends are in Canada, after all, and if Trudeau lives up to his
promise, he will shield them from the collapse we're seeing in the USA.

But that is a *big* if. Trudeau isn't Harper. He's more charismatic,
he's got better hair, and he says much, much better things than Harper.

However, when the chips are down, Trudeau out-Harpers Harper.

Mass surveillance legislation. Corruption scandals. Lying about
corruption scandals. Bailing out the pipeline. "No country would find
173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there."
Abandoning asylum-seekers to Trump's lawless regime.

"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy
action." It would be pretty naive to assume that merely because Trudeau
has promised to do the right thing, that he will do the right thing.

Indeed, if history is any indicator, the best way to predict what
Trudeau will do is to assume that it will be the *opposite* of whatever
he promises.

I won't lie. I felt a spark of hope when I read Trudeau's words.

But hope is all I've got - and it's a far cry from confidence.

Or relief.


🍒 This day in history

#15yrsago Kate Wilhelm’s must-read writerly advice/history of Clarion

#10yrsago FTC clobbers Roca Labs, the terrible weight-loss company that
banned negative reviews

#10yrsago Not just emissions: manufacturers’ dirty tricks fake
everything about cars

#5yrsago KARMA POLICE: GCHQ’s plan to track every Web user in the world

#5yrsago Appeals court rules Batmobile is a “character” and is
copyrighted by DC

#5yrsago The other ad-blocking ecosystem: blame-ducking

#1yrago Thomas Cook travel collapsed and stranded 150,000 passengers,
but still had millions for the execs who tanked it

#1yrago Lynda Barry is a Macarthur “genius”

#1yrago Stargazing: Jen Wang’s semi-autobiographical graphic novel for
young readers is a complex tale of identity, talent, and loyalty


🍒 Colophon

Today's top sources: JWZ (https://www.jwz.org/blog/)

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 560 words (65436

Currently reading: Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

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

Upcoming appearances:

* Stanford Human-Computer Interaction Seminar, Sept 25,

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

* 3 Big Ideas To Fix the Internet, Oct 7,

* 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

Recent appearances:

* If Big Tech Is Toxic, How Do We Build Something Better? (panel)

* On ‘Attack Surface’ and WiFi Fridges (What a Hell of a Way to Die

* Little Brother vs. Big Audiobook (Techdirt podcast):

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.

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially,
provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link
to pluralistic.net.


Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are
included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the
basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.


🍒 How to get Pluralistic:

Blog (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Newsletter (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Mastodon (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and


Tumblr (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):


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

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 195 bytes
Desc: OpenPGP digital signature
URL: <http://mail.flarn.com/pipermail/plura-list/attachments/20200925/5a2ed892/attachment.sig>

More information about the Plura-list mailing list