Monday, August 21, 2023
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Mark this one to my 'get off my lawn' age group, but, it just pisses me off when I'm asked, at a fast casual restaurant where you order your food at a counter, pick up your food at a counter and bus your own table, to tip when you pay up front at, yea... the counter.
Or, someone at a coffee shop who makes your coffee (and isn't a 'server' so, isn't making 'server' wages of $2 an hour). Those tips? That's a way to keep wages up to market values, without paying for it, best case. More often? Those employees aren't seeing all (or even any) of those tips. The business just keeps it as profit. No one's watching the employers. No one's auditing anything.
It's a rip off of both consumers and employees by business owners.
So, I looked into tipping a little deeper and, man, it's dark. This is not a good thing and we should all start working for required living wages vs. this bullshit we call tipping.
Saturday, October 08, 2022
The more I look at todays medical system, the more disgusted I get.
I'll be 65 next year, and going on Medicare.
Want to see what massive corporate fraud looks like? Look no further than private 'Medicare Advantage' plans.
I used to be a dyed in the wool capitalist and believed a free and open market was the most efficient way to provide the best services and products at the best cost.
I was wrong.
Todays late stage and predatory capitalism isn't efficient, it's coordinated and driven by greed and profit. There's nothing balanced about America's market economy today. Nothing.
We need to look at real Universal Health Care in this country. We're one of the few 1st world countries that doesn't have it and it makes no sense. It's more efficient (yea, it really is, the 'market gurus' are lying to you and it's easy to prove) it's cheaper and doesn't make billionaire health care company owners and executives even richer.
You can bet the exact same thing is going on with your regular health care insurance as well. It's about corporations profit off their product.
And the sicker you are (or they can make you appear to be), the more profit they make off you. They don't sell health care. They sell 'what's the least amount of care' so they can keep more money.
Saturday, February 05, 2022
Extreme libertarians built blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power. It could consolidate their control instead.
By Ian Bogost
I remember reading this Atlantic article when it first came out almost 5 years ago and thinking "this sounds about right" It, and other examinations of what was going on, kept me from getting involved in the whole crypto world.
Now here we are, half a decade later, and I would say that it was a little bit wrong, but a lot more right.
The only thing missing (or is it?) is far right-wing, or far left-wing, governments of the world, to start enacting just some of the imagined uses of an authoritarian state this article lays out. I can see China already starting, and I'm pretty sure Georgia, Florida, or Texas wouldn't hesitate to use this kind of tech to control voter roles, once it decides it can get away with it.
And there are many many more scenarios that have been made possible with the continued advancement of the tech in the crypto/blockchain world.
I've got some very dear friends who've bought in wholeheartedly to this world. I hope they understand what they're really supporting and Web3 (which is what they're calling it) doesn't take the path of the Internet that I was deeply involved in ('web 2.0).
We really believed we were creating something that democratized information for individuals and society as a whole. What we really did, mostly, was create tools for corporations to massively centralize information and turn even tiny bits of it into financial transaction devices, also known as the securitization of information.
NFT's are the current manifestation of that. Laugh at them if you want, but, fiat money (i.e the US Dollar) is no less ethereal (pun intended Ethereum fans) than crypto-currencies and NFT's.
Massively distributed systems may be 'the democratization of X', but, they can be used for the opposite as well.
The article above sums it up nicely:
"blockchain’s future seems tied to the short-term vision of investors and entrepreneurs willing to speculate on a hypothetical, distributed utopia without hedging against the consolidated autocracy it seems equally likely to realize. “This is what happens,” Greenfield says, “when very bright people outsmart themselves.”
I'm no longer the young idealist that went to silicon valley in the 80's to work for Apple. I've seen some shit. Especially in the last 5 years, I've come to conclude that humans will not, always, pick the best path for all of us collectively, or even, themselves individually. Some days, being a misanthrope is just easier.
I know this sounds like a 'get off my lawn' post, but, every so often, the old geezer yelling that old anachronistic stereotypical trope, is right.
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Watching the latest small-scale municipal election unfold here in my hometown of Longmont, Colorado, I'm struck by how things have changed in a relatively short time, effectively, the last two years.
Our town is very blue (Democrat). It was once a Republican stronghold, but no more. Much of liberal Boulder has moved to lower cost and more family-friendly Longmont over the last few years making it as, or more, liberal than the famously liberal "People's Republic of Boulder" town twelve miles to the Southwest.
But you wouldn't think that looking at our latest City Council race and School Board elections.
We had nine candidates for City Council this year. Three for mayor, and six for two open at-large seats.
Of these nine candidates, five were, effectively, Republicans. We're supposed to have non-partisan races, but, it's clear, there's a left and right in Longmont and they're organized. But one is more organized and coordinated, than the other.
Of the six City Council candidates, four were GOP funded and supported. They attended meetings together and strategized with their local GOP supporters at various get-togethers. They even endorsed each other, openly, in debates. The GOP mayoral candidate in our town called out the four GOP-supported candidates running for council in a recent debate, calling for the city to elect them, along with himself, 'to bring balance' back to the City Council.
How do I know the GOP was so organized and funded? Mostly by one obvious example and a few hints. The obvious one is the candidate for mayor in our town is a local handyman. Nice guy. Quite likable, but, he had a 'handler' that's with him at all times. The handler is a lawyer from New York. This handler was writing his scripts and his debate answers as well as coaching him through interviews and video productions. Several of the candidates have also talked about 'a meeting on Sunday (and many other days)' with names of all the conservative candidates, only. It's coordinated.
The Democrats, by contrast, were eating their own in a scene that's eerily similar to the Democrats at a national level in 2021. There are center-left and progressive Democrats running for office here, and they dislike each other more than they, it seems, dislike their GOP opponents.
As noted above, it also is interesting to see the contrast of how well organized and funded, the conservative GOP-supported candidates are in comparison. They meet regularly with each other and their handlers/funders. They're focused, energized, and on message.
They also used tried and true ratf*cker methodology, a GOP-developed strategy for winning that can be mild (as it is in our case) to extreme (mostly used at a national level and exhibited by people like Roger Stone, Lauren Boebert, and, of course, trump).
Our local example has one of the GOP candidates who was allegedly unvaccinated and refused to wear masks in Boulder County, where mask mandates are in place for all indoor activities, running a largely single-issue campaign focused on a 'hyperloop' transportation system that is, at best, 50 years out. It's one of those things that everyone thinks is cool and likes, but, is used primarily as a diversionary topic to keep people off of her position on issues this particular candidate doesn't want to talk about. What are her positions here? No idea, although hints of a Lauren Boebert like mindset did appear. Whenever asked about specifics this candidate would divert back to the 'hyperloop'. That's the point of the strategy.
Although to be fair, the other side may not be immune to this kind of behavior. I heard from an, at the time, sitting council person, that they had 'suggested he run' to the GOP Mayoral candidate. Apparently, he was this person's handyman. They seemed slightly surprised he actually ran though. Did they really encourage him to run? Was it with the intent to counter the 'not liberal enough' liberal candidate? It's hard to tell. If true, that's a 'clever' way to take out an opponent. As our city's recent ex-mayor likes to say: "Politics in Longmont is a bloodsport", so who knows.
Another big sign was this year's School Board race. The fact that there even was a race is really unusual. There is almost never an election in this town for a school board seat. They have a hard time finding people to run and there's almost always just one person for each seat on the ballot.
Not this year. Several seats were contested, and the 'new' folks are all GOP-controlled conservatives.
The aftermath of the elections was predictable. The conservatives lost, however, they had an effect.
The Center-left mayoral candidate, who was a likely shoo-in for the job, lost to the more progressive left-wing candidate because of the GOP candidate. How? The GOP candidate took 20% of the vote, including the centrists and slightly center-right folks that would have voted for a center-left candidate over a farther to the left candidate.
The City Council candidates that won were the incumbent everyone already knew and the first black women to ever be elected to a Longmont City Council seat. Both are on the left side of the spectrum. The left-leaning candidate also won the School Board election.
The GOP, this time, actually created a more liberal government by coming out in force to try and take the City Council and School Board over. I'm sure that wasn't the intent, but, that was the end result.
Did they learn from this? I'm very sure they did.
Boulder County is 80%+ blue so the GOP losing isn't a surprise. However, if we were a 55% or 60% blue county, which it was not that long ago, the results may well have been very different.
There is a national, coordinated, and well-funded effort on the part of the Republican Party to take over local governments. Grinding it out. Learning the lessons. Year after year after year.
Election Commissioners, County Commissioners. City Councils. School Boards. Municipal Boards and Commissions.
All of it.
I've seen it up close and personal right here at home. You might want to take a look at what's going on in your town, too. If you don't like what you see, get involved. And for gods sake, vote!
Everyone, please, vote.
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