Stephen Sondheim, Titan of the American Musical, Is Dead at 91

He was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century and the driving force behind some of Broadway’s most beloved and celebrated shows.

Amazon’s hunt for public contracts generates backlash

Amazon is winning big money contracts from governments across Europe but activists hope to turn this receipt of public money against the corporate giant.

Marco D'Eramo, Bitmagic

the very success of cryptocurrency as an idea has undermined its political project ­– for physical, commercial and conceptual reasons.

The politics of cryptocurrencies.

After just two weeks on the platform, consuming only content that Facebook’s recommendation systems selected for me, I found myself at the bottom of a rabbit hole not of extremism but of utter trash—bad advice, stolen memes, shady businesses, and sophomoric jokes repeated over and over. Facebook isn’t just dangerous, I learned. It doesn’t merely have the ability to shape offline reality for its billions of users. No, Facebook is also—and perhaps for most people—senseless and demoralizing.

Facebook Sent Me Down a Centrist Rabbit Hole

I set up a new Facebook account with the most generic interests possible, and wound up in a place no one should ever have to go.

You have probably heard about Bitcoin and may have heard about Ethereum, DogeCoin or any of a host of other cryptocurrencies. All of these depend on an underlying technology called blockchain.

Even those people who have rejected the hype of cryptocurrencies have, in many cases, seen promise in the foundational blockchain technology. This page in a Wiki from the Peer-to-Peer Foundation lists many of the promises held out for blockchain and many of the reasons to be wary of the technology in its current form.

Blockchain - P2P Foundation

= "a distributed cryptographic ledger shared amongst all nodes participating in the network, over which every successfully performed transaction is recorded". [1] See, from Rachel O'Dwyer: How the Blockchain Might Support a Commons "Why trust Bitcoin, or more specifically, why trust the technology that makes Bitcoin possible? In short, because it a...

It’s Time We Stop Listening to Economists on Climate Change

Opinion | Economic models of climate change are so riddled with flaws and fudge factors that we’d be better off without them.

Barry Solow wrote the following post Thu, 11 Nov 2021 10:22:53 -0800

Our Son Visited Us For Brunch This Morning

We'll see him again in a few weeks for Thanksgiving, when he will bring his dog, Pancake, and when our daughter will also be visiting.
Bev made her pumpkin waffles and we discussed political economy, personal news and looked ahead to the next few years.
We managed to walk through Inwood Hill Park briefly before he had to get on the subway to make his way to another meeting...
The tee-shirt bears Yiddish BLM (Black Lives Matter)/Defund the Police messages and a graphic that dates from the golden age of Yiddish radicalism...

I am told by a reliable source:
"Actually, Hubzilla came first; Zap is the fork 🙂 "

Show thread

Zap is an earlier, simpler implementation of a social network built on the Nomad (formerly Zot) protocol that underlies Hubzilla. While, ultimately, I would prefer to offer users all the capabilities Hubzilla offers I have been learning just how complicated -- and difficult to explain -- that would be at this stage of development. So I have just set up a Zap instance to see if it is something I can offer non-technical users.

Barry Solow

1.1 What is a Commons Transition? - Commons Transition Primer » Growth, as an evolutionary process of natural systems, is understood to be necessary. But past adolescence, organisms must either stabilize (through interfacing with their environments) or die off. In observing our economic systems...

Via @lotfi ( whose post on Zap, here I couldn't figure out how to share properly)

I wish I could invite friends to cancel their FB accounts, end their complicity with shit like this, join my Hubzilla instance and hit the ground running...but, alas, Hubzilla just doesn't seem to me to be there yet. No amount of urgency I feel on this topic will endow me with the stamina and patience which would be necessary to explain everything I'd need to explain to people moving from FB to as technically unskilled users.

How Facebook Is Stoking a Civil War in Ethiopia

Online hate is adding fuel to the country’s deadly conflict, and researchers say Facebook is failing to stop it.

This is the most compact, brilliant explanation of what, I think, is happening. This is why it is crucial to IMMEDIATELY work to deprive Facebook (first... eventually Google, Amazon, Twitter, etc.)

Technofeudalism: Explaining to Slavoj Zizek why I think capitalism has evolved into something worse
by Yanis Varoufakis on YouTube

I am aware of the irony that this is a link to YouTube but we are forced to use the enemy's weapons for our own purposes until we are in a position to forge our own weapons.
Letters from an American wrote the following post Sat, 06 Nov 2021 20:52:21 -0700

November 6, 2021

As soon as the Democrats in the House of Representatives, marshaled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a bipartisan vote of 228–206 last night, Republicans began to say that the Democrats were ushering in “socialism.” View article View summary November 6, 2021

As soon as the Democrats in the House of Representatives, marshaled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a bipartisan vote of 228–206 last night, Republicans began to say that the Democrats were ushering in “socialism.”

When Republicans warn of socialism, they are not talking about actual socialism, which is an economic system in which the means of production, that is, the factories and industries, are owned by the people. In practical terms, that means they are owned by the government.

True socialism has never been popular in America, and virtually no one is talking about it here today. The best it has ever done in a national election was in 1912, when labor organizer Eugene V. Debs, running for president as a Socialist, won a whopping 6% of the vote, coming in behind Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. True socialism isn't a real threat in America.

What politicians mean when they cry “socialism” in America today is something entirely different. It is a product of the years immediately after the Civil War, when Black men first got the right to vote.

Eager to join the free labor system from which they had previously been excluded, these men joined poor white men to vote for leaders who promised to rebuild the South, provide schools and hospitals (as well as desperately needed prosthetics for veterans), and develop the economy with railroads to provide an equal opportunity for all men to work hard and rise.

Former Confederates loathed the idea of Black men voting. But their opposition to Black voting on racial grounds ran headlong into the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which, after it was ratified in 1870, gave the U.S. government the power to make sure that no state denied any man the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” When white former Confederates nonetheless tried to force their Black neighbors from the polls, Congress in 1870 created the Department of Justice, which began to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan members who had been terrorizing the South.

With racial discrimination now prohibited by the federal government, elite white southerners changed their approach. They insisted that they objected to Black voting not on racial grounds, but because Black men were voting for programs that redistributed wealth from hardworking white people to Black people, since hospitals and roads would cost tax dollars and white people were the only ones with taxable property in the Reconstruction South. Poor Black voters were instituting, one popular magazine wrote, "Socialism in South Carolina."

This idea that it was dangerous for poor working men to have a say in the government caught on in the North as immigrants moved into growing cities to work in the new factories. Like their counterparts in the South, they voted for roads and schools, and northern men of wealth too insisted these programs meant a redistribution of wealth through tax dollars.

They got more concerned still when a majority of Americans began to call for regulation to keep businessmen from gouging consumers, polluting the environment, and poisoning the food supply (milk was preserved with formaldehyde, and candy was often painted with lead paint). Wealthy men argued that any attempt to regulate business would impinge on a man's liberty, while an army of bureaucrats to enforce regulations would cost tax dollars and thus would mean a redistribution of wealth from men of means to the poor who would benefit from the regulations.

Long before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia brought the fears of a workers' government to life, Americans who opposed regulation insisted that their economy was under siege by socialists. That conviction did indeed lead to a redistribution of wealth, but as regular Americans were kept from voting, it went dramatically upward, not down.

Regulation of business and promotion of infrastructure is not, in fact, the international socialism today’s Republicans claim. According to Abraham Lincoln, who first articulated the principles of the Republican Party, and under whom the party invented the American income tax, the “legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves---in their separate, and individual capacities.” Those things included, he wrote, “public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.”


Abraham Lincoln, Fragment on Government, [July 1, 1854?], in Roy P. Basler, ed., Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), volume 2, p. 220.

Originally a comment, it's probably better for me to post this separately... 

In a world far better than the one we currently inhabit a stereotype such as "Karen" would not exist, but consider:

Brushfires start small, where the proper fuel, surrounded by adequate oxygen, is suddenly ignited. From there, wherever the fire spreads, there must be fuel and oxygen. As the fire grows in size and in heat the fuel need not be as (initially) flammable as was the case where the fire first started -- the onrushing fire will dry it out, create its own conditions, so that it will spread into places where it would not have started. At some point the brushfire is out of control (if it were human we might call it a "bandwagon effect") and our attention is best directed changing the conditions which have allowed it to spread.

So, on to "Karen":

Although its exact origins are uncertain, the meme became popular a few years ago as a way for people of colour, particularly black Americans, to satirise the class-based and racially charged hostility they often face.

...people who use the term "Karen" say that it is not simply a catch-all for all middle-aged white women - and is, rather, dependent on a person's behaviour.

For example, writer Karen Geier - a Karen in the traditional sense - responded to Bindel: "As the only Karen replying to you: No. If you have a problem being called 'a Karen' then don't be one? I don't call the police on people or ask to speak to the manager. Very simple!"

What exactly is a 'Karen' and where did the meme come from?

To many the Karen meme - and its male equivalent Ken - sums up a specific type of white privilege.

Why might black Americans choose this form, the use of a name, to encapsulate a stereotype? Well, there's this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

all of which stemmed from this:

Appeals to the facts about black Americans, appeals to fairness, did not -- over the course of more than a century -- do much to alleviate the oppression. This became clear most recently when we began seeing videos and reading reports of police abuse and, at the same time, videos of mostly white women threatening to call those police down on innocent people of color.

If citing the facts had done so little to change the situation might you not lose some faith in citing the facts? If appeals to fairness had failed so often to eliminate unfairness might you not come to think of "fairness" as a relatively useless concept? Given the opportunity, might you not try to fight stereotypes with stereotypes?

I'd like to live in a world where the facts matter more than they do, where fairness is an effective instrument of change but I don't think we live in that world. I'm happy to consider the facts to the extent that they help me change the world. I'm happy to consider fairness to the extent that people make it central to the way they react to the world in general.

But my priority is to change the world for the better. The "Karens" are welcome to join the effort.

I'm experimenting with interconnecting my Hubzilla channel ( ) to this Mastodon account. There may be weirdnesses and strange gaps as I figure out the specifics of inter-platform dynamics...

These observations seem to me to fall right in with the Bollier and Fleming books to which I referred you earlier, @pkboi


To those, I'd add others, e.g.

Words like "success" and "happiness" seem unnecessarily tinged with capitalist notions of endless growth, boundlessness, which we can ill afford. I wonder if we could cultivate alternative goals, along the lines of "contentment"?

...and, caught up in my own thoughts, I forgot that you'd mentioned "contentment" yourself. So maybe I need to add some term that denotes "lessening of self-absorption"...

"The Dawn of Everything” is a lively, and often very funny, anarchist project that aspires to enlarge our political imagination by revitalizing the possibilities of the distant past. Superficially, it resembles other exhaustive, synoptic histories—it’s encyclopedic in scope, with sections introduced by comically baroque intertitles—but it disavows the intellectual trappings of a knowable arc, a linear structure, and internal necessity. As a stab at grandeur stripped of grandiosity, the book rejects the logic of technological or ecological determinism, structuring its narrative around our ancestors’ improvisatory responses to the challenges of happenstance. The result is an almost hallucinatory vision of the human epic as a series of idiosyncratic digressions. It is the story of how we made it up as we went along—of how things could have been different and, perhaps, still might be

Early Civilizations Had It All Figured Out

A contrarian account of our prehistory argues that cities once flourished without rulers and rules—and still could.

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