277 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2021
    1. cited yearly value of a facebook user at 250 USD.

      It's interesting to think in terms of dollar value per person per year on something like facebook.

    1. Wal-Mart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined. “Clearly,” says Edward Fox, head of Southern Methodist University’s J.C. Penney Center for Retailing Excellence, “Wal-Mart is more powerful than any retailer has ever been.” It is, in fact, so big and so furtively powerful as to have become an entirely different order of corporate being.
      • Wal-Mart has no real rivals
      • Wal-Mart is more powerful than any retailer in history
      • Does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penny, Safeway, and Kroger combined!
    2. The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don’t change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices
      • Wal-Mart has clear policy for suppliers: Basic products must lower in price year after year.
      • Wal-Mart uses its position and power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. Ex: bras, bicycles, blue jeans must lower in price.
  2. Dec 2020
    1. Instead of “find the yes,” the directive became, effectively, find the no that saved the most money.

      An interesting business cost that killed the golden goose.

    1. The company’s early mission was to “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Instead, it took the concept of “community” and sapped it of all moral meaning. The rise of QAnon, for example, is one of the social web’s logical conclusions. That’s because Facebook—along with Google and YouTube—is perfect for amplifying and spreading disinformation at lightning speed to global audiences. Facebook is an agent of government propaganda, targeted harassment, terrorist recruitment, emotional manipulation, and genocide—a world-historic weapon that lives not underground, but in a Disneyland-inspired campus in Menlo Park, California.

      The original goal with a bit of moderation may have worked. Regression to the mean forces it to a bad place, but when you algorithmically accelerate things toward our bases desires, you make it orders of magnitude worse.

      This should be though of as pure social capitalism. We need the moderating force of government regulation to dampen our worst instincts, much the way the United State's mixed economy works (or at least used to work, as it seems that raw capitalism is destroying the United States too).

    1. By the time any of this gets objectively evaluated, you'll be happily working in a different role, and someone else will deal with the objective metrics.

      This from the same writer about observing Russian fraud: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1332699000089292801.html

      So only worry about yourself and moving up without any regard to the fact that your offspring will be left with a gaping hole of detritus. Who cares about building value of any sort? Ugh...

    1. Ek said that many artists are happier in private about the money they receive than they are in public. He also said that musicians not doing well from streaming are the ones who want to release music “the way it used to be released”.

      This is hogwash. Artists want to make a living, while Ek and his cohorts maximise their profits while actively lobbying against songwriter royalties and pushing transphobic people like Joe Rogan. More here: https://niklasblog.com/?p=25501

    2. many musicians are “scared to speak out” because they don’t want to “lose favour” with all-powerful streaming services and record labels.

      This is horrifying. Just what Shell has done, and other major and uncaring companies, naturally.

  3. Nov 2020
    1. Billionaires have convinced workers to look down on people who are not productive because then the people at the top make less money. The working class is conditioned to consider anyone who is not constantly producing something as lazy and moochers who are coasting through life; their laziness strains the systems and makes it harder for the working class to become billionaires. Spoilers — the working class is closer to abject poverty than to ever becoming a billionaire. People making $5,000 dollars an hour have convinced people making $25 an hour that people who make $9 an hour are the problem.

      A sad truth to our system.

    2. No one ever earned a billion dollars — they stole it.

      This is almost assuredly true.

    1. surveillance capitalism.

      I recommend to link to the book where its author, Shoshana Zuboff, has coined the term.

      The irony right now is that you're linking to an Amazon version of Zuboff's book; Amazon is currently one of the top-five surveillance-capitalist companies in the tech world.

      I would also consider linking to the Wikipedia page for the term.

    1. Between 1950 and 1973 GDP doubled or more. This prosperity was broadly shared, with consistent growth in living standards for rich and poor alike and the emergence of a broad middle class.
    1. Jeff Bezos has so much money he doesn’t know what to do with it all, so he figures he’d might as well spend it on spaceships. That’s what the Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -1.04%   founder and chief executive told Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Business Insider parent Axel Springer, in an interview published over the weekend.
    1. She was not his spouse; instead, she was the political officer of the Communist Party of China and she was embedded in the school. In fact, the university is full of political officers who operate behind the scenes but are there to keep party discipline. Today, companies like Nike, Google, Microsoft and others don’t need a communist party to impose their own totalitarian-like discipline upon workers.

      To read

    1. In another interview, this time by John Laidler of the Harvard Gazette (March 2019), Zuboff expanded on this: I define surveillance capitalism as the unilateral claiming of private human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. These data are then computed and packaged as prediction products and sold into behavioral futures markets

      Zuboff's definition of Surveillance Capitalism

    1. But as long as the most important measure of success is short-term profit, doing things that help strengthen communities will fall by the wayside. Surveillance, which allows individually targeted advertising, will be prioritized over user privacy. Outrage, which drives engagement, will be prioritized over feelings of belonging. And corporate secrecy, which allows Facebook to evade both regulators and its users, will be prioritized over societal oversight.

      Schneier is saying here that as long as the incentives are still pointing in the direction of short-term profit, privacy will be neglected.

      Surveillance, which allows for targeted advertising will win out over user privacy. Outrage, will be prioritized over more wholesome feelings. Corporate secrecy will allow Facebook to evade regulators and its users.

  4. Oct 2020
    1. Antalet premiumprenumeranter som står för hälften av Spotifys intäkter steg med 27 procent till 144 miljoner jämfört med samma period föregående år. Det var fler än analytiker förväntat sig (142,5 miljoner) enligt Refinitivs sammanställning.
    1. are woefully underfunded. And many haven't quite found the egalitarian ideal that can really sustain them in the long term

      Issues between socialism and capitalism. Creating something to benefit society (although, the examples mentioned above seem to go against this idea...) versus something that needs to turn a profit.

    1. Is there any truly ethical way to buy groceries in America?In short: no. Americans now spend only 10 percent of their budgets on food, Lorr notes, while in 1900 it was 40 percent. Our food is the cheapest in the world because we import so much of it from places where things like labor and antibiotics are cheap. Not only that, we hunger for cheapness in our own shopping habits, forever seeking the great promotional deal.

      The rest of the world isn't totally non-susceptible to this; even France has had food budget percentage spending decrease. But given the extreme throes of late-stage capitalism the US is in ...

    1. Under the radar, a new class of dangerous debt — climate-distressed mortgage loans — might already be threatening the financial system. Lending data analyzed by Keenan and his co-author, Jacob Bradt, for a study published in the journal Climatic Change in June shows that small banks are liberally making loans on environmentally threatened homes, but then quickly passing them along to federal mortgage backers. At the same time, they have all but stopped lending money for the higher-end properties worth too much for the government to accept, suggesting that the banks are knowingly passing climate liabilities along to taxpayers as stranded assets.

      We need better ways of making valuations and assessing risk so that these sorts of dangerous debt can't be passed along.

      These sorts of sales should have long term baggage clauses built into them to prevent government "suckers". If they fail within x number of years, the original owners and their investors are held liable for them.

    1. It would allow end users to determine their own tolerances for different types of speech but make it much easier for most people to avoid the most problematic speech, without silencing anyone entirely or having the platforms themselves make the decisions about who is allowed to speak.

      But platforms are making huge decisions about who is allowed to speak. While they're generally allowing everyone to have a voice, they're also very subtly privileging many voices over others. While they're providing space for even the least among us to have a voice, they're making far too many of the worst and most powerful among us logarithmic-ally louder.

      It's not broadly obvious, but their algorithms are plainly handing massive megaphones to people who society broadly thinks shouldn't have a voice at all. These megaphones come in the algorithmic amplification of fringe ideas which accelerate them into the broader public discourse toward the aim of these platforms getting more engagement and therefore more eyeballs for their advertising and surveillance capitalism ends.

      The issue we ought to be looking at is the dynamic range between people and the messages they're able to send through social platforms.

      We could also analogize this to the voting situation in the United States. When we disadvantage the poor, disabled, differently abled, or marginalized people from voting while simultaneously giving the uber-rich outsized influence because of what they're able to buy, we're imposing the same sorts of problems. Social media is just able to do this at an even larger scale and magnify the effects to make their harms more obvious.

      If I follow 5,000 people on social media and one of them is a racist-policy-supporting, white nationalist president, those messages will get drowned out because I can only consume so much content. But when the algorithm consistently pushes that content to the top of my feed and attention, it is only going to accelerate it and create more harm. If I get a linear presentation of the content, then I'd have to actively search that content out for it to cause me that sort of harm.

    1. The conundrum isn’t just that videos questioning the moon landing or the efficacy of vaccines are on YouTube. The massive “library,” generated by users with little editorial oversight, is bound to have untrue nonsense. Instead, YouTube’s problem is that it allows the nonsense to flourish. And, in some cases, through its powerful artificial intelligence system, it even provides the fuel that lets it spread.#lazy-img-336042387:before{padding-top:66.68334167083543%;}

      This is a great summation of the issue.

    1. Legislation to stem the tide of Big Tech companies' abuses, and laws—such as a national consumer privacy bill, an interoperability bill, or a bill making firms liable for data-breaches—would go a long way toward improving the lives of the Internet users held hostage inside the companies' walled gardens. But far more important than fixing Big Tech is fixing the Internet: restoring the kind of dynamism that made tech firms responsive to their users for fear of losing them, restoring the dynamic that let tinkerers, co-ops, and nonprofits give every person the power of technological self-determination.
    1. Capitalists and market-thinkers inevitably seek to enclose the commons, privatizing benefits and externalizing costs onto society.
    1. As Casper’s January IPO filing revealed, scale is all: in 2018 the company lost $92.1 million on revenue of $358 million, spending $126 million on sales and marketing and, according to one calculation, losing $160 on every mattress it sold.

      The problem with believing your own advertising. What happened to real capitalism?

    2. A fascinating encapsulation of consumerism for the past 5-10 years. I love this.

    1. A second strand in the development of the American prosperity gospel was the valorization of the “Protestant work ethic.” Written in 1905, Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism traced what he saw as the specifically Protestant approach to labor as integral to the development of capitalism and industrialization. In Weber’s historical analysis, Protestant Calvinists — who generally believe in the idea of “predestination,” or that God has chosen some people to be saved and others damned — felt the need to justify their own sense of themselves as the saved. They looked both for outward signs of God’s favor (i.e., through material success) and for ways to express inward virtue (i.e., through hard work). While the accuracy of Weber’s analysis is still debated by scholars, it nevertheless tells us a lot about cultural attitudes at the time Weber wrote it.
    1. choice and competition improve schools

      How can choice and competition improve schools? From a capitalistic perspective one needs to be much more mobile or have a tremendous number of nearby schools for this to happen. Much like the lack of true competition in local hospitals, most American families don't have any real choice in schools as their local school may be the only option. To have the greatest opportunity, one must be willing to move significant distances, and this causes issues with job availability for the parents as well as other potential social issues.

      When it's the case that there is some amount of local selection, it's typically not much and then the disparity of people attending one school over another typically leads to much larger disparities in socio-economic attendance and thus leading to the worsening of the have and the have-nots.

      Even schools in large cities like the Los Angeles area hare limited in capacity and often rely on either lottery systems or hefty tuition to cut down on demand. In the latter case, again, the haves and have-nots become a bigger problem than a solution.

      I'll have to circle back around on these to add some statistics and expand the ideas...

    1. Academic capitalism promotes engaged academics as an empirical measure of a university’s reputational currency. Academic capitalism refers to the ways in which knowledge production increasingly embeds universities in the new economy (Berman 2011; Rhoades and Slaughter 2010).
    1. As it turns out his vision perfectly reflected the history of capitalism, marked by taking things that live outside the market sphere and declaring their new life as market commodities.
    1. But that state of consciousness that permits the growth of liberalism seems to stabilize in the way one would expect at the end of history if it is underwritten by the abundance of a modern free market economy.

      Writers spend an awful lot of time focused too carefully on the free market economy, but don't acknowledge a lot of the major benefits of the non-free market parts which are undertaken and executed often by governments and regulatory environments. (Hacker & Pierson, 2016)

    1. Abneesh Roy, an analyst at Edelweiss Securities, noted that ahead of elections set for early next year, the government could be moving to appease owners of smaller shops that have been hit as customers buy more goods online. “Shopkeepers have been unhappy,” he said. “In an election year, the government will definitely listen more to voters.”

      It's nice to see foreign countries looking at what has happened to coutries like America with the rise of things like e-commerce, actually thinking about them and the longer term implications, and making rules to effect the potential outcomes.

      Now the bigger follow up question is: is this a good thing? Perhaps there won't be the community interruption we've seen in the US, but what do the overall effects look like decades hence? From a community perspective, from a competitive perspective?

    1. For Piketty, rising inequality is at root a political phenomenon. The social-democratic framework that made Western societies relatively equal for a couple of generations after World War II, he argues, was dismantled, not out of necessity, but because of the rise of a “neo-proprietarian” ideology. Indeed, this is a view shared by many, though not all, economists. These days, attributing inequality mainly to the ineluctable forces of technology and globalization is out of fashion, and there is much more emphasis on factors like the decline of unions, which has a lot to do with political decisions.
  5. Sep 2020
    1. a conceptual framework to understand the mutually constitutive nature of racialization and capitalist exploitation, inter alia, on a global scale, in specific localities, in discrete historical moments, in the entrenchment of the carceral state, and in the era of neoliberalization and permanent war.
    2. Modern U.S. Racial Capitalism

      Some Theoretical Insights

      by Charisse Burden-Stelly

    1. Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee and obtained by BuzzFeed News.The 6,600-word memo, written by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, is filled with concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion. In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them.
    1. When Japanese companies threatened to take over the American microchip market, the libertarian computer capitalists of California had no ideological qualms about joining a state-sponsored cartel organised by the state to fight off the invaders from the East! 

      A good example of so-called capitalists playing the do as we say and not as we do game.

    2. Entrepreneurs often have an inflated sense of their own 'creative act of will' in developing new ideas and give little recognition to the contributions made by either the state or their own labour force.

      Techbro hubris

    1. That’s what happened in Florida. Hurricane Andrew reduced parts of cities to landfill and cost insurers nearly $16 billion in payouts. Many insurance companies, recognizing the likelihood that it would happen again, declined to renew policies and left the state. So the Florida Legislature created a state-run company to insure properties itself, preventing both an exodus and an economic collapse by essentially pretending that the climate vulnerabilities didn’t exist.

      This is an interesting and telling example.

    2. And federal agriculture aid withholds subsidies from farmers who switch to drought-resistant crops, while paying growers to replant the same ones that failed.

      Here's a place were those who cry capitalism will save us should be shouting the loudest!

    1. while a Minister’s view is always slanted on matters that affect his own interests, so that instead of promoting deserving persons he will fill the places with his own creatures, and will try to strengthen his own position by the number of persons whom he makes dependent on his fortunes;

      Here, we see a distrust of Democratic systems, commoners, and burgher-capitalism.

      The thread of logic is that people from lower classes - coming from positions of less power and wealth - are more susceptible to corruption as they attempt to shore up their own interests by surrounding themselves with flunkies and sycophants.

      The nobility, on the other hand, need no such false assurances.

    1. Throughout the twentieth century, proponents of this particularly American blend of theology envisaged God as a kind of banker, dispensing money to the deserving, with Jesus as a model business executive. Both of these characterizations were, at times, literal: In 1936, New Thought mystic and founder of the Unity Church Charles Fillmore rewrote Psalm 23 to read, “The Lord is my banker/my credit is good”; in 1925, advertising executive Bruce Bowler wrote The Man Nobody Knows to argue that Jesus was the first great capitalist. The literal money quote reads, “Some day ... someone will write a book about Jesus. Every businessman will read it and send it to his partners and his salesmen. For it will tell the story of the founder of modern business.”

      Note the strong restructuring of god in line with capitalism

    2. As Laura Turner notes in an excellent piece for BuzzFeed, no theological tradition is as rife for accusations of hypocrisy as the “prosperity gospel,” a distinctively American theological tradition. While it’s popular among many evangelical Protestants, it’s been condemned by many others. But to many of its critics, especially since the election of Donald Trump, this tradition has come to represent the worst of the conflation of American-style capitalism, religion, and Republican party politics.
  6. Aug 2020
    1. The mass surveillance and factory farming of human beings on a global scale is the business model of people farmers like Facebook and Google. It is the primary driver of the socioeconomic system we call surveillance capitalism.
    1. Facebook has apologized to its users and advertisers for being forced to respect people’s privacy in an upcoming update to Apple’s mobile operating system – and promised it will do its best to invade their privacy on other platforms.

      Sometimes I forget how funny The Register can be. This is terrific.

    1. Facebook is warning developers that privacy changes in an upcoming iOS update will severely curtail its ability to track users' activity across the entire Internet and app ecosystem and prevent the social media platform from serving targeted ads to users inside other, non-Facebook apps on iPhones.

      I fail to see anything bad about this.

  7. Jul 2020
    1. But the business model that we now call surveillance capitalism put paid to that, which is why you should never post anything on Facebook without being prepared to face the algorithmic consequences.

      I'm reminded a bit of the season 3 episode of Breaking Bad where Jesse Pinkman invites his drug dealing pals to a Narcotics Anonymous-type meeting so that they can target their meth sales. Fortunately the two low lifes had more morality and compassion than Facebook can manage.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20kpzC3sckQ

    1. a new kind of power

      This is what Shoshana Zuboff sustains in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: a new kind of power which can, at first, be apprehended through Marx’s lenses; but as a new form of capitalism, it <mark>“cannot be reduced to known harms—monopoly, privacy—and therefore do not easily yield to known forms of combat.”</mark>

      It is <mark>“a new form of capitalism on its own terms and in its own words”</mark> which therefore requires new conceptual frameworks to be understood, negotiated.

    2. One of these semiotizing processes is the extraction, interpretation and reintegration of web data from and into human subjectivities.

      Machine automation becomes another “subjectivity” or “agentivity”—an influential one, because it is the one filtering and pushing content to humans.

      The means of this automated subjectivity is feeding data capitalism: more content, more interaction, more behavioral data produced by the users—data which is then captured (“dispossessed”), extracted, and transformed into prediction services, which render human behavior predictable, and therefore monetizable (Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surviellance Capitalism, 2019).

    1. El jardín de la extracción capitalista se constru-ye mediante tecnologías de exterminio que acaban con la bio-diversidad natural y, por lo tanto, con la potencialidad actuante de la materia.

      Creo que la "potencialidad actuante de la materia" no se ve disminuida por el capitalismo, es mas, la agencialidad del cumulo de aserrin atesta a lo contrario. De la misma forma, podemos ver en esta materia impuesta por el neoliberalismo, un agente tambien. Como en el caso del matsutake, del libro the Anna Tsing, The mushroom at the end of the world

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  8. Jun 2020
    1. n this project we see a shift from a citizen-based model to a consumer model for urban planning, where all citizens’ ‘personal and environmental data is an economic resource.’

      Called survillance capitlism

    1. One of the new tools debuted by Facebook allows administrators to remove and block certain trending topics among employees. The presentation discussed the “benefits” of “content control.” And it offered one example of a topic employers might find it useful to blacklist: the word “unionize.”

      Imagine your employer looking over your shoulder constantly.

      Imagine that you're surveilled not only in regard to what you produce, but to what you—if you're an office worker—tap our in chats to colleagues.

      This is what Facebook does and it's not very different to what China has created with their Social Credit System.

      This is Orwellian.

    1. Zoom didn't do this to comply with local law.

      They did this because they don't want to lose customers in China.

      This is just capitalistic greed.

      Shutting down activists over a dictatorship is wrong, and it is actually as simple as that.

    1. anchoring products - stating what products would otherwise sell for, while advocating that purchasers buy sooner than later such that they receive the products for cheap

      -> creation of urgency

    2. particularization and discrete-formation of activity - activity is reduced from an ambiguous relationship of activities to singular "do this" or "do that" activities for ambiguous "success"

    3. "People buy off emotion and not logic."

  9. May 2020
    1. What is more frightening than being merely watched, though, is being controlled. When Facebook can know us better than our parents with only 150 likes, and better than our spouses with 300 likes, the world appears quite predictable, both for governments and for businesses. And predictability means control.

      "Predictability means control"

  10. Apr 2020
    1. The most extraordinary statement from an audit firm after missing a $800 million hidden loss: "We stand behind the quality of our work". That's Deloitte & Touche LLP's response on the collapse of oil trading house Hin Leong |

      Remind anybody of the Big Four's complicity in '08?

    1. The World Health Organization’s internal corruption became palpable to most people in late March. That is when this video, in which a Radio Television Hong Kong journalist conducts an interview with WHO official Bruce Aylward, came to light. To be fair, Dr. Aylward – a senior advisor to the Director-General – had been put in an awkward position when asked if the WHO will reconsider Taiwan’s membership. He is not the person who makes this determination.
    2. For decades, we have permitted the financial services industry to repeatedly force us into Hobson’s Choices at the end of every market cycle. Every cycle, Wall Street levers up and empowers cyclical sectors of the economy to lever up. When they do, they improve their returns in the interim, extract as much cash as possible and subject us all to systemic risk in the process. When that risk manifests, and it always does in some way “no one could have predicted”, we are then told we must all share the burden for it, since now is not a time for blame! Real businesses and families are hurting, and not helping Wall Street right now would hurt them, too.

      Wow

    3. Doug Parker has pocketed more than $150 million through his sale of 3.6 million shares in American Airlines. These sales were particularly egregious in 2015 – 2016, not coincidentally the period of American’s greatest stock buyback activity. How egregious were the stock sales? For a twelve month period from mid-2015 through mid-2016, Doug Parker pocketed between $4 million and $11 million in stock sales per month. How large were the stock buybacks? Two-thirds of American’s $13 billion in stock buybacks over this six year period occurred over these same months.Here’s another fun fact about Doug Parker. For a brief shining moment, American Airline’s stock price went above $50 in early 2018. Wouldn’t you know it, Doug just happened to choose that moment to sell 437,000 shares of stock, more than twice as much stock as he had ever sold before and almost 5x the usual size of his stock sales. Barf.
    4. We are talking about Whiting Petroleum, and Brad serves as both its Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. On March 26, 2020, that board paid him and his fellow executives $14.6 million in bonuses. Holley himself pocketed $6.4 million. Six days later, that same board sent Whiting Petroleum into Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a proposal that would wipe out 97% of the equity in the company. According to the Board of Directors of the Whiting Petroleum Company, these bonuses were “intended to ensure the stability and continuity of the company’s workforce and eliminate any potential misalignment of interests that would likely arise if existing performance metrics were retained.” If you are a layperson, this explanation may sound to you like a very large crude carrier full of horseshit. I understand why you might think that. But let me assure you as a non-layperson that this explanation is an ultra large crude carrier full of horseshit.

      Disgusting

    1. Prologue:

      Federalism => competition between states => one (small) state, S. Dakota, abolishing long-standing laws that prevented usury => growth of trillion dollar credit card debt industry

      See also Little South Dakota (pop. 833,000) holds $2.5 trillion in bank assets — more than any other state. Here's why. (The Atlantic, 2013):

      • But when state leaders, desperate to attract outside businesses during the economic recession of the early 1980s, changed South Dakota's usury laws to eliminate the cap on interest rates and fees, Citibank came calling...The deal was breathtakingly quid pro quo, with then-Gov. Bill Janklow's chief-of-staff leaving to become president and CEO of Citibank South Dakota.

      AND then the abolishing of laws against perpetuities

      In 1983, he abolished the rule against perpetuities and, from that moment on, property placed in trust in South Dakota would stay there for ever. A rule created by English judges after centuries of consideration was erased by a law of just 19 words. Aristocracy was back in the game.

      The Tax Justice Network (TJN) still ranks Switzerland as the most pernicious tax haven in the world in its Financial Secrecy Index, but the US is now in second place and climbing fast, having overtaken the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Luxembourg since Fatca was introduced. “While the United States has pioneered powerful ways to defend itself against foreign tax havens, it has not seriously addressed its own role in attracting illicit financial flows and supporting tax evasion,” said the TJN in the report accompanying the 2018 index. In just three years, the amount of money held via secretive structures in the US had increased by 14%, the TJN said.

      Here is an example from one academic paper on South Dakotan trusts: after 200 years, $1m placed in trust and growing tax-free at an annual rate of 6% will have become $136bn. After 300 years, it will have grown to $50.4tn. That is more than twice the current size of the US economy, and this trust will last for ever, assuming that society doesn’t collapse altogether under the weight of this ever-swelling leach.

      If the richest members of society are able to pass on their wealth tax-free to their heirs, in perpetuity, then they will keep getting richer than those of us who can’t. In fact, the tax rate for everyone else will probably have to rise, to make up for the shortfall caused by the wealthiest members of societies opting out, which will just make the problem worse. Eric Kades, the law professor at William & Mary Law School, thinks that South Dakota’s decision to abolish the rule against perpetuities for the short term benefit of its economy will prove to have been a long-term catastrophe. “In 50 or 100 years, it will turn out to have been an absolute disaster,” said Kades. “Now we’re going to have a bunch of wealthy families, and no one will be able to piss away that wealth, it will stay in the family for ever. This just locks in advantage.”

      All effected by one man

      And upheld by this 1978 SCOTUS case which allowed banks to export interest rates based on where they were "headquartered," — sound similar to the Irish tax dodge? (based on where the IP was owned)

    1. Fascinating especially in discussing how use of data science allows psychological distancing from the actual task: predatory loaning

      Capital One collects $23 billion in interest per year—an average that works out to $181 from each family in America. Of course, not every family has a Capital One account, and most public surveys say roughly half of people with credit cards pay them in full and accrue no interest. So simple math tells you that many families are paying Capital One at least $800 in interest every year.

      People at Capital One are extremely friendly. But one striking fact of life there was how rarely anyone acknowledged the suffering of its customers. It’s no rhetorical exaggeration to say that the 3,000 white-collar workers at its headquarters are making good money off the backs of the poor. The conspiracy of silence that engulfed this bottom-line truth spoke volumes about how all of us at Capital One viewed our place in the world, and what we saw when we looked down from our glass tower. This is not meant to offer a broad-brush indictment of business at Capital One; it is hardly the only corporation that has been ethically compromised by capitalism. It is, however, meant to shine a few photons of light on the financial industry in a post-crisis age of acute inequality.

      Amid the daily office banter at Capital One, we hardly ever broached the essence of what we were doing. Instead, we discussed the “physics” of our work. Analysts would commonly say that “whiteboarding”—a gratifying exercise in gaming out equations on the whiteboard to figure out a better way to build a risk model or design an experiment—was the favorite part of their job. Hour-long conversations would oscillate between abstruse metaphors representing indebtedness and poverty, and an equally opaque jargon composed of math and finance-speak.

      If you were not familiar with the almanac of metaphors—many of which, as I understand it, were specific to Capital One—you would not follow the conversations. The “bathtub,” for example, denotes a loan portfolio, because it’s like water down the drain when you lose customers—either because they have closed their account or were fed up with Capital One or have involuntarily defaulted on their loan. When you spend tens of millions of dollars on marketing, that’s turning on the spigot for new water in your “bathtub.”

      It was common to hear analysts say things like, “I just love to solve problems.” But what they were really doing was solving something closer to puzzles. It’s clear to me, for example, that the janitor at my middle school solved problems when she cleaned up trash. It’s far less clear whether analysts at Capital One are solving problems or creating them. In either event, the work culture at this well-appointed lender of dwindling resort is pretty much designed to encourage former students of engineering or math to let their minds drift for a few years and forget whether the equations in front of them represent the laws of thermodynamics or single moms who want to pay for their kids’ Christmas gifts without having to default on their rent or utilities payments.

      Before I managed Capital One’s secured card product, I worked on what we called “Mainstreet proactive credit limit increases” or “Mainstreet pCLIP” for short. Mainstreet was yet another piece of euphemistic in-house jargon; it meant subprime. As for proactive credit limit increase, it meant raising the cap on how much someone is allowed to borrow—without getting their permission to raise the cap.

      The emails we used to send these “Mainstreet pCLIP” customers would go as follows: “Elena Botella, you’re a valued customer, and we want you to get more out of your card. So recently, your credit line was increased to $6550.00. This gives you more in your wallet, which gives you more flexibility. Thank you for choosing Capital One®. Enjoy your higher credit line.”

      At any bank, if you have a low credit score, you’re only likely to get a credit limit increase if you’re getting close to your existing credit limit. So if you got that email, you probably had a few thousand dollars of Capital One credit card debt at an interest rate of at least 20 percent. That implies you were probably paying Capital One around $40 in interest per month or more. You might want or need to borrow more money on top of what you’ve already borrowed, but I always thought it was a little bit sick for us to be telling people to “enjoy” their higher credit line. It felt more than a little like shouting, “Enjoy getting into more debt, suckers!” before disappearing in a cloud of smoke and speeding off in a Tesla.

      Capital One’s culture of experimentation also acted as a kind of buffer. Fast Company has reported that Capital One runs 80,000 experiments per year. As Christopher Worley and Edward Lawler III explain in the journal Organizational Dynamics, a bank like Capital One can randomly assign differing interest rates, payment options, or rewards to various customers and see which combinations are most profitable for any given segment of people. It’s not so different from how a pharmaceutical company might use a randomized control trial to test whether a new drug is effective, except that the results of the bank’s experiment will never get published, and instead of curing diseases, the bank is trying to extract more money from each customer. The use of experiments is itself an act of psychological distancing; it allows the analysts controlling the experiment to resolutely apply its findings as a profit-maximizing mandate without giving the strategy a name such as, oh, “predatory lending.”

      The rise of data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence means that you don’t need venal corporate tycoons wearing Monopoly Man hats to grind the faces of the poor into the dirt. Under the data-driven directives of Capitalism 2.0, you can have a bunch of friendly data scientists who don’t think too deeply about the models they’re building, while tutoring low-income kids on the side. As far as they’re concerned, they’re refining a bunch of computer algorithms.

    1. Thousands of enterprises around the world have done exhaustive security reviews of our user, network, and data center layers and confidently selected Zoom for complete deployment. 

      This doesn't really account for the fact that Zoom have committed some atrociously heinous acts, such as (and not limited to):

  11. Mar 2020
    1. This is known as transport encryption, which is different from end-to-end encryption because the Zoom service itself can access the unencrypted video and audio content of Zoom meetings. So when you have a Zoom meeting, the video and audio content will stay private from anyone spying on your Wi-Fi, but it won’t stay private from the company.
    2. But despite this misleading marketing, the service actually does not support end-to-end encryption for video and audio content, at least as the term is commonly understood. Instead it offers what is usually called transport encryption, explained further below
    1. Mastercard acquired NuData Security in 2017 and it has been making advances in biometric identification.
    2. The payment provider told MarketWatch that everyone has a unique walk, and it is investigating innovative behavioral biometrics such as gait, face, heartbeat and veins for cutting edge payment systems of the future.

      This is a true invasion into people's lives.

      Remember: this is a credit-card company. We use them to pay for stuff. They shouldn't know what we look like, how we walk, how our hearts beat, nor how our 'vein technology' works.

  12. Feb 2020
    1. Last year, Facebook said it would stop listening to voice notes in messenger to improve its speech recognition technology. Now, the company is starting a new program where it will explicitly ask you to submit your recordings, and earn money in return.

      Given Facebook's history with things like breaking laws that end up with them paying billions of USD in damages (even though it's a joke), sold ads to people who explicitly want to target people who hate jews, and have spent millions of USD every year solely on lobbyism, don't sell your personal experiences and behaviours to them.

      Facebook is nefarious and psychopathic.

    1. Capitalism is an economic system that can combine centralization with decentralization.

      How can we analogize this with the decentralization of the web and its economy?

    2. First, because capital goods do not fall from the sky: all countries that have successfully moved from poverty to affluence have done so, of necessity, by accumulating large amounts of capital. We will also see that a crucial feature of capitalism is who owns and controls the capital goods in an economy.

      3:11pm

    3. First, because capital goods do not fall from the sky: all countries that have successfully moved from poverty to affluence have done so, of necessity, by accumulating large amounts of capital. We will also see that a crucial feature of capitalism is who owns and controls the capital goods in an economy.
    1. Spotify is directly mimicking Google and Facebook, and attempting to roll up power over digital audio markets the way Google and Facebook did over the internet. It has already done so in music. Here’s Rolling Stone, reporting on Spotify’s exploitation of its public utility platform of music distribution to organizes payola-style extortion against artists.
    1. Section 1. The Two Factors of a Commodity, Use-Value and Value

      Marx's analysis of a capitalist system begins by postulating that it's fundamentally composed of units called commodities.

      In the capitalist system commodities have two features.

      1. They are produced

      2. They are produced by capitalists

      Capitalists produce commodities by employing workers to produce them.

      In this section, Marx begins his analysis of the first feature of the capitalist system (viz. that it is commodity producing). Workers and capitalists will not appear in Marx's analysis for several more chapters.

    1. Revenue of $4.1 billion, growing 37% year-over-year or 39% on a constant currency basis

      They forgot to add '...money that our drivers—who basically are left to their own devices where blame and poor wages are concerned—will never see.'

    1. I suspect that Wacom doesn’t really think that it’s acceptable to record the name of every application I open on my personal laptop. I suspect that this is why their privacy policy doesn’t really admit that this is what that they do.
    1. Most socialists, however, tend to find the profit motive problematic.

      Is it worthwhile to envision a society where people's motives are pre-anticipated or controllable?

      I think social systems should be robust enough to account for stable functioning of society, independent of the motives and only depending on actions.

      Only actions can be observed, and hence only actions can be regulated in any form of organized society and highly so in capitalism.

    1. socialists do not support capitalism, meaning they want workers to control the means of production

      Workers controlling the means of production sounds like co-operative industries. This paradigm is not antithetical to 'capitalism' in the sense that there is still private ownership of the means of production. I disagree with the statement that democratic socialists do not support capitalism.

      A good debate on this topic here - https://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/323/are-worker-cooperatives-socialist-capitalist-or-their-own-category

  13. Jan 2020
    1. prevails

      In the original German, 'prevails' is rendered "herrscht." Herrscht shares a common root with the ordinary German word Herr (Mister, or, more evocatively, Master). 'Lordship' (as, in the chapter of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, on 'Lordship and Bondage' is rendered Herrschaft.)

      My own reading of Capital tends to center upon the question of domination in capitalist societies, and throughout chapter 1 (in particular, in The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof) Marx is especially attuned to the distinguishing how the forms of domination that are prevalent in capitalist societies are distinct from the relations of "personal dependence" that characterize pre-capitalist modes of production.

      It seems prudent, therefore, to take note of the way that the seemingly innocuous notion of 'prevalence' is, for Marx, in his original formulation, already evocative of the language of mastery, domination, perhaps even something like 'hegemony'.

      Furthermore, the capitalist mode of production prevails--it predominates. Yet, as Louis Althusser observes in his discussion of the concept of the 'mode of production' in On the Reproduction of Capitalism, every concrete social formation can be classified according to the mode of production that is dominant (that prevails--herrscht). In order to dominate, something must implicitly be dominated, or subordinate. "In every social formation," Althusser writes, "there exists more than one mode of production: at least two and often many more." Althusser cites Lenin, who in his analysis of the late 19th c. Russian social formation, observes that four modes of production can be distinguished (Louis Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, Verso 2014, p. 19.)

      In our analysis of social formations, the concrete specificity of each can be articulated by carefully examining the multiplicity of modes of production that coincide within it, and examine the way in which capitalism tends to dominate a multiplicity of subordinate modes of production that, on the one hand, survive from past modes of production but which may also, on the other, be emerging in the present (i.e. communism). Thus even if capitalism tends towards the formation of a contiguous world-system dominated by its particular imperatives, this does not mean that this process is homogenous or unfolds in the same way in each instance.

      For some commentators, capitalism is defined by the prevalence of wage labor and the specific dynamics that obtain therefrom. Yet this has often led to confusion over, whether, in analyzing the North American social formation prior to 1865, in which slavery coexists with wage-labor, the mode of production based on slave-labor is pre-capitalist. Yet as we find here in ch. 1, what determines the commodity as a commodity is not that it is the product of wage labor, rather that it is produced for exchange. As Marx writes on p. 131, "He who satisfies his own need with the product of his own labor admittedly creates use-values, but not commodities. Insofar as the slave-system in North America produced commodities (cotton, tobacco, etc.) for exchange on the world market, the fact that these commodities were produced under direct conditions of domination does not have any bearing on whether or not we identify this system of production as 'capitalist'. Wage-labor is therefore not likely the determinative factor; the determinative factor is the production of commodities for exchange. It is only insofar as commodities confront one another as exchange-values that the various modes of useful labor appear as expressions of a homogenous common substance, labor in the abstract

      It is in this sense that we can observe one of the ways that the capitalist mode of production prevails over other modes of production, as it subordinates these modes of production to production for exchange, and thus the law of value, regardless of whether wage-labor represents the dominant form of this relation. Moreover, it provides a clue to how we can examine, for example, the persistence of unwaged work within the family, which has important consequences for Social Reproduction Theory.

      Nonetheless, we can say that insofar as commodities confront each other on the market in a scene of exchange that they implicitly contain some 'third thing' which enables us to compare them as bearers of a magnitude of value. This 'third thing', as Marx's demonstration shows, is 'socially necessary labour time', which anticipates the way that wage-labor will become a dominant feature of capitalist society.

    1. A Microsoft programme to transcribe and vet audio from Skype and Cortana, its voice assistant, ran for years with “no security measures”, according to a former contractor who says he reviewed thousands of potentially sensitive recordings on his personal laptop from his home in Beijing over the two years he worked for the company.

      Wonderful. This, combined with the fact that Skype users can—fairly easily—find out which contacts another person has, is horrifying.

      Then again, most people know that Microsoft have colluded with American authorities to divulge chat/phone history for a long time, right?

    1. Since capitalists make money from every hour of workers’ labor, they will get increasingly rich over time, while workers won’t because they’re too busy making money for capitalists

      This is not entirely obvious, it depends on the competing interests of the owners of the means of production vs the workers. The current economic and social organization that disincentivises labour unions and any forms of collective organization on the worker side reduces their bargaining power and hastens this statement. But there can be alternative ways of structuring companies and the macroeconomics to balance both the forces.

      Am I missing something here?

  14. Dec 2019
    1. We are barrelling toward a country with 350 million serfs serving 3 million lords. We attempt to pacify the serfs with more powerful phones, bigger TVs, great original scripted television, and Mandalorian action figures delivered to your doorstep within the hour. The delivery guy might be forced to relieve himself in your bushes if not for the cameras his boss installed on every porch.
    1. Google found 1,494 device identifiers in SensorVault, sending them to the ATF to comb through. In terms of numbers, that’s unprecedented for this form of search. It illustrates how Google can pinpoint a large number of mobile phones in a brief period of time and hand over that information to the government
  15. Nov 2019
    1. half of iPhone users don’t know there’s a unique ID on their phone (called an IDFA, for “identifier for advertisers”) tracking their app activity and sending it to third-party advertisers by default.
    1. Google has confirmed that it partnered with health heavyweight Ascension, a Catholic health care system based in St. Louis that operates across 21 states and the District of Columbia.

      What happened to 'thou shalt not steal'?

    1. Found a @facebook #security & #privacy issue. When the app is open it actively uses the camera. I found a bug in the app that lets you see the camera open behind your feed.

      So, Facebook uses your camera even while not active.

    1. Speaking with MIT Technology Review, Rohit Prasad, Alexa’s head scientist, has now revealed further details about where Alexa is headed next. The crux of the plan is for the voice assistant to move from passive to proactive interactions. Rather than wait for and respond to requests, Alexa will anticipate what the user might want. The idea is to turn Alexa into an omnipresent companion that actively shapes and orchestrates your life. This will require Alexa to get to know you better than ever before.

      This is some next-level onslaught.

    1. Somewhere in a cavernous, evaporative cooled datacenter, one of millions of blinking Facebook servers took our credentials, used them to authenticate to our private email account, and tried to pull information about all of our contacts. After clicking Continue, we were dumped into the Facebook home page, email successfully “confirmed,” and our privacy thoroughly violated.
    1. In 2013, Facebook began offering a “secure” VPN app, Onavo Protect, as a way for users to supposedly protect their web activity from prying eyes. But Facebook simultaneously used Onavo to collect data from its users about their usage of competitors like Twitter. Last year, Apple banned Onavo from its App Store for violating its Terms of Service. Facebook then released a very similar program, now dubbed variously “Project Atlas” and “Facebook Research.” It used Apple’s enterprise app system, intended only for distributing internal corporate apps to employees, to continue offering the app to iOS users. When the news broke this week, Apple shut down the app and threw Facebook into some chaos when it (briefly) booted the company from its Enterprise Developer program altogether.
    1. If the apparatus of total surveillance that we have described here were deliberate, centralized, and explicit, a Big Brother machine toggling between cameras, it would demand revolt, and we could conceive of a life outside the totalitarian microscope.
    1. The FBI is currently collecting data about our faces, irises, walking patterns, and voices, permitting the government to pervasively identify, track, and monitor us. The agency can match or request a match of our faces against at least 640 million images of adults living in the U.S. And it is reportedly piloting Amazon’s flawed face recognition surveillance technology.

      FBI and Amazon are being sued because of surveillance of people living in the USA.

    1. Senior government officials in multiple U.S.-allied countries were targeted earlier this year with hacking software that used Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) WhatsApp to take over users’ phones, according to people familiar with the messaging company’s investigation.
  16. Oct 2019
    1. Facebook said on Wednesday that it expected to be fined up to $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations. The penalty would be a record by the agency against a technology company and a sign that the United States was willing to punish big tech companies.

      This is where surveillance capitalism brings you.

      Sure, five billion American Dollars won't make much of a difference to Facebook, but it's notable.

    1. The company has sky-high hopes that Libra could become the foundation for a new financial system not controlled by today’s power brokers on Wall Street or central banks.

      Facebook want another way to circumvent government? Well, let's circumvent Facebook.

    1. Scientists at Imperial College London and Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium, reported in the journal Nature Communications that they had devised a computer algorithm that can identify 99.98 percent of Americans from almost any available data set with as few as 15 attributes, such as gender, ZIP code or marital status.

      This goes to show that one should not trust companies and organisations which claim to "anonymise" your data.

    2. Two years ago, when he moved from Boston to London, he had to register with a general practitioner. The doctor’s office gave him a form to sign saying that his medical data would be shared with other hospitals he might go to, and with a system that might distribute his information to universities, private companies and other government departments.The form added that the although the data are anonymized, “there are those who believe a person can be identified through this information.”“That was really scary,” Dr. de Montjoye said. “We are at a point where we know a risk exists and count on people saying they don’t care about privacy. It’s insane.”
    1. “We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well-intentioned the leaders of these companies may be.”Mr. Hughes went on to describe the power held by Facebook and its leader Mr. Zuckerberg, his former college roommate, as “unprecedented.” He added, “It is time to break up Facebook.”
    1. Per Bloomberg, which cited an memo from an anonymous Google staffer, employees discovered that the company was creating the new tool as a Chrome browser extension that would be installed on all employees’ systems and used to monitor their activities.

      From the Bloomberg article:

      Earlier this month, employees said they discovered that a team within the company was creating the new tool for the custom Google Chrome browser installed on all workers’ computers and used to search internal systems. The concerns were outlined in a memo written by a Google employee and reviewed by Bloomberg News and by three Google employees who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to talk to the press.