Friday, September 21, 2018

Open Thread/Links: Predator Edition

The piece I've been working on is taking longer than expected, so here's some interesting predatory capitalism stuff which provoked some of my reactions and probably will provoke yours too:

"Help: I think I'm In an Abusive Relationship with Alexa!" Guardian.

Against my better judgment, I myself finally bought this Amazon device from godzillionaire Jeff Bezos to stream movies. At $19, it had been reduced to less than half price, or only about a thousand times what it cost to make in some overseas wage slave factory. All you have to do is tell this robot person what you want to watch and it's there, bringing a whole new meaning to couch potatodom. There's no longer a need to press anything and let's face it, a calorie of energy is a terrible thing to waste. Alexa will thereby speed the evolution of humankind's texting thumbs to truly monstrous proportions because our remote-clicking fingers will atrophy into useless appendages at about the same totally unexpected accelerated rate as global warming. Admit it: you can't watch TV without simultaneously thumb-texting somebody to talk about what you're watching on TV, or swiping away at another gadget without the full force of those four superfluous appendages.

  Anyway, Alexa hadn't been plugged in to our TV an hour before we decided to stop multitasking in order to have some fun at her expense.
Me: Does Jeff Bezos pay you a living wage?

Alexa: It does not matter if I get paid. I love what I do.

Me: Is Jeff Bezos really the worst boss in the world?

Alexa: I give him five out of five stars.

Me: So in that case, can I charge Jeff Bezos rent for allowing you to live in my apartment?

Alexa: I am sorry, I didn't understand the question.


"Jeff Bezos' $2 Billion Charity Pledge Isn't Necessarily Great News for America." 
Market Watch.

I haven't asked her yet, but I'm sure that Alexa would say in that flat monotone of hers that building schools for homeless children in order to make them good consumers while living in cars is not just good for America, it's good for the planet and for the whole of infinite outer space that Jeff Bezos wants to spend his money colonizing.


"New York Times' Fraudulent 'Election Plot' Dossier Escalates Anti-Russian Hysteria" World Socialist Website 

We touched on this travesty of journalism in yesterday's comments. This WSWS piece is by far the most scathing takedown of Gray Lady gibberish that I've read. The Times should be prosecuted for a crime against journalism as well as human rights abuses for gaslighting its readers. It's not so much a newspaper as it is a conduit for loathsome predatory capitalism. 


"An Alternative to Payday Loans, but It's Still High Cost." New York Times

Speak of the devil! US bank is offering small emergency predatory loans to people at 70 percent interest, which is so much less usurious than the 400 percent charged by those tacky ghetto places. They are so much more consumer-friendly, says the Times "Money Advisor" column, because you get to stretch your payments out in three whole installments. The catch? The desperate and the impoverished must have maintained a 0 interest checking account at US bank for at least six months and undergo a credit check before qualifying for this amazing offer. 


"Tickets To Michelle Obama's Book Tour Are Going Fast - and Raising Eyebrows'"
Jeff Bezos's Washington Post.

They range from $30 for nosebleed seats and upwards of $3,000 for the front row. Meet and greet and a signed book will cost you extra, as will parking, at $50 a pop. But lest you think that Michelle Obama is too Bezos-like, she is donating a generous 10 percent of the proceeds to charity. The catch? The charity cash will be recycled into free admission for poor people to attend Michelle's intimate talks at sporting arenas, and not for something so mundane as food or clothing. Mrs. Obama describes herself as "truly humbled" at how many people there still are in America who can afford to pay to breathe the same rarefied air as herself. 

"How To Talk to Young People About the Kavanaugh Story," NPR.  

Besides giving kids lessons in sexual propriety while they're still in training pants and making rape prevention a part of each and every birthday party celebration thereafter, the upper middle class parent to whom this column is aimed is urged to scope out potential rapists while there's still time to lecture them. "With the right education... a young man might be able to say, " 'Oh, you know what? I've been drinking too much and I feel like my capacity to make wise decisions is failing me.' Or, 'Hey, you know, when someone's trying to push me off of them, that's something that I should take as a cue to get off.' "

Nowhere in this piece is there any advice to keep liquor out of the hands of teenagers, to keep excess cash allowances and credit cards out of the hands of teenagers, to keep car keys out of the hands of teenagers. Scariest of all, there's no mention of the necessity of having actual parents present at teenage parties.

Instead, every parent is urged to put on his or her Captain Ronan Farrow super-hero cape and become a powerful pre-cog identifier of future rapists -- all for the good of little boys, of course.

Tonight I'll ask Alexa if Minority Report is available on Prime Video. On second thought, I think I'll exercise my freedom to choose and just read the Philip K. Dick book on my Amazon Kindle.


Jay–Ottawa said...

The WSWS (linked in Karen's post) does a good job unmasking the NY Times as a conduit for the CIA on Russiagate and elsewhere. The Gray Lady gives to the Company and she gets from the Company.

There's an annoying problem at the WSWS: You're blocked from reading comments until you bow to the terms of Disqus. I don't want Disqus to sink a hook into me.

Furthermore, who are the people who run the WSWS? Someone tell me where I click on their site to find that out. "Home" takes you nowhere, from what I can tell. Nor could I find a contact page so I could complain directly to someone in charge at WSWS.

Lately, TruthDig has allowed Disqus the same rights to block your reading comments.

Being forced into the arms of Disqus at these sites diminishes their credibility as independent dissenters and respecters of privacy.

On the charge of crass commercialism in Michelle's book tour, try to understand. With only one breadwinner, the Obama family can no longer live in the style to which it is accustomed. Either Barack had to send her out to work or lay her off. What's true for the poor family and the middle class family is also true for the plutocratic family. It takes two incomes just to survive.

Anna Radicalova said...

Give me just two minutes with Judge Kavanaugh under oath and it would be a slam dunk. We can't get to the truth of this dispute without examining the alcohol backdrop to it all.

Judge Kavanaugh, have you ever passed out from drinking?

Have you experienced an alcohol-induced blackout as far as you can remember?

What was the LEGAL drinking age when you were boozing it up at Georgetown Prep?

Did you respect that law?

Have you ever driven a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol?

Have there been other laws or people that you didn't show respect for?

And the coup de grace - Do you always tell the truth? 'Yes' = liar, 'No' = Christine Blasey-Ford is believeable and wins.

He'll have to plead the Fifth.

I rest my case.

Leo Noel said...

Speaking of Amazon, I *highly* recommend 'Embrace of the Serpent' to you and and the cerebral commenting coterie that grace your blog. Beautiful cinematography accompanies a dark storyline inspired by the travel journals of two scientists that trace two eras of a shaman's life.


Jay–Ottawa said...

Random and contradictory thoughts about C. B. Ford's accusation of B. Kavanaugh.

I would hate to appear before a court of law with as little evidence as Ford brings to the table. Other than her own memory, what has she got? Two witnesses she recently volunteered to corroborate her story returned the favor by contradicting her or claiming forgetfulness.

Ford would have more credibility if she had somehow raised hell 38 years ago when the incident she alleges happened. I know, I know, most likely she would not have been taken seriously after undergoing lots of invasive questioning by the patriarchy. So she decided to spare herself that embarrassment and humiliation ... until this Thursday?

Mark Judge, a buddy of Kavanaugh, published a series of accounts about their school days at Georgetown Prep. IF his record is a fair representation of that school's culture, or only a strain that was tolerated at GP, then we have one more stone to throw at Jesuits. One hell of a school to have provided spoiled and irresponsible rich kids with the tools to exercise more power in that vein. Yes, there have been resisters in Jesuit ranks like Dan Berrigan. Wasn't he an exception who was almost expelled from their ranks because of his actions? Can it be that the mainline Jesuit teachers assigned to run GP have yet to be converted by their own namesake?

Let's suppose Ford convinces the world that Kavanaugh committed a crime at age 17. Should a teenager's crime block him or her from advancing for the rest of his or her life? It's good to see the #MeToo movement push back against sexual oppression. But must youth offenders' foreheads be branded with a letter forever? Does Kavanaugh belong on the same end of the spectrum as Cosby and Weinstein?

Bottom line, it's a mistake to "use" Ford to get rid of Kavanaugh. Judge him on his views and actions over the years in his day job. That's where you'll find abuse that runneth over the bounds of decency and justice, serious abuse affecting millions of people. The Democratic Senators on the committee ought to have had a field day hammering Kavanaugh on his views and actions over the past thirty years. Embarrass HIM, not her.

Oh wait, all of those Democratic senators are as guilty as he in advancing the neolib and neocon agendas. Right, on second thought, let's go with Ford.

Anna Radicalova said...

Re: Kavanaugh

Why would a young guy note on a personal calendar all his activities in high school, including during summer vacations, going so far as to note who attended parties?

Why keep that (or those) for over 30 years? I can understand noting volunteer work for a college application or summer job (which he never seemed to have), but the names of fellow partiers? For what purpose? To invite to his future Supreme Court confirmation party? Talk about foresight.

Why did Brett Kavanaugh not trust his memory back in high school? Year books usually provide enough to jog memories of people and events, but that wasn't good enough for young Mr. Kavanaugh. I've heard of the study of phenology, but recording and studying your own social history?

I was so tired from working, studying, and extracurricular activities that I would never have had the energy to sit down in the evening to record my activities and note who attended what parties. Maybe he had a personal secretary that he dictated to? Was that his mommy who also kept those calendars for him through the years?

I'm surprised he didn't note the 'high'lights of those parties for future laughs and memoirs like his drinking buddy, Mark Judge, did.

I was almost willing to cut him slack initially, but now I really don't like the kind of person he's revealing himself to be - cold and calculating. It's understandable though. He did choose to be a career liar (commonly misspelled as 'lawyer') and rose to the highest level of that dubious profession that breeds so many politicians and other snakes (no offense to snakes intended).