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."
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.