They must pay

Let’s think about money.

Maybe you like money. It buys things. It in fact offers power: Would the lady who brought me my breakfast sandwich and coffee this morning in fact have done so if she were not being paid by another lady whom I paid? She did it and she did it with a smile on her face. (I tip well, too, so I guess that helps.)

The “smile on her face” part is an issue on its own: There is something very weird about being required to smile as part of a job, smiling regardless of whether one is happy. There is no glamour in a breakfast sandwich, coffee, or any of the other offerings at this cafe. She derives no direct benefit from my nourishment. Why should she be so happy? The fact she’s a young woman and I’m an old (nearly 60) man introduces its own additional issues which I’m just not taking on right now. But yeah, something’s up and a proper power relationship analysis (I’ll return to this) would probably wipe away that smile and maybe even take away my breakfast in short order. Continue reading “They must pay”

What Uber and Lyft get right

A couple of months ago, Yves Smith penned a column suggesting that Uber is headed for a crash. She calls the company a “textbook ‘bezzle’ — John Kenneth Galbraith’s coinage for an investment swindle where the losses have yet to be recognized,” points to sizable losses, argues that “[n]o ultimately successful major technology company has been as deeply unprofitable for anywhere remotely as long as Uber has been,” thinks its initial public offering valuation is ridiculous, and complains that it conceals financial information—in her view, a huge red flag.[1] Continue reading “What Uber and Lyft get right”

  1. [1]Yves Smith, “Uber Is Headed for a Crash,” New York, December 4, 2018,

About ‘seizing’ human rights

It sounds clever, doesn’t it?

Continue reading “About ‘seizing’ human rights”

  1. [1]dog respecter [pseud.], [microblog post], Twitter, February 4, 2019,

It might actually be a good thing that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House right now

I know. You never thought I’d say this—hell, I never thought I’d say this—but I think Nancy Pelosi might actually be the right person to take down Donald Trump over his border wall. Continue reading “It might actually be a good thing that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House right now”

Hey, High Tech! Have you noticed it’s 2019?

I am having to change banks for the second time in a month. I had encountered problems with declines on my debit card with Redwood Credit Union. At first I assumed I had tripped fraud detection (which, in my case, is never right) and had started to give them a ration of shit about false positives meaning their entire fraud detection system is bullshit when they denied any knowledge of the declines. Continue reading “Hey, High Tech! Have you noticed it’s 2019?”

The love of a dog

I was in a left-turn lane approaching Amy’s Drive Thru, a vegetarian and vegan fast food place in Rohnert Park, for breakfast. As I sat at the red light, I noticed a man riding a bicycle in the rain. He was wearing what looked like an old army jacket and as he navigated a curb cut, a dog riding in a basket on the back of his bicycle struggled to maintain balance. Continue reading “The love of a dog”

Things I shouldn’t have to say about borders

First, for those who may be unfamiliar with my work, my dissertation was on conservative attitudes towards unauthorized migration. I used discourse-historical analysis, a critical theory method which entails an examination of both text and context.[1]

I already knew that dissertations are where a lot of good research goes to die. But I had wished for more impact than this and when I hear the things being said about migrants and borders that I have been hearing especially during the course of the Trump administration, I am, to put it very, very mildly, disappointed. Yes, Donald Trump is an authoritarian populist, verging on paleoconservative (in my dissertation work, I found these two otherwise distinct tendencies were virtually indistinguishable on this topic). And yes, this rhetoric is what you would expect from an authoritarian populist. But 1) authoritarian populists were never supposed to actually gain power, and 2) this rhetoric and policy should be swatted down as the fascist[2] nonsense it is. Continue reading “Things I shouldn’t have to say about borders”

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” February 14, 2017,

A Marxist counterfactual

I don’t know the author of Existential Comics—even their gender—but they recently posted a tweet that is extraordinarily helpful in making a point I’ve been wanting to make for a while:

Continue reading “A Marxist counterfactual”

The tyranny of the minority

Recently, in response to a rather triumphalist tweet predicting the demise of Donald Trump,[1] I offered a summation of the political situation as I perceive it:

Continue reading “The tyranny of the minority”

  1. [1]John Oberlin, [microblog post], Twitter, December 1, 2018,
  2. [2]John Oberlin, [microblog post], Twitter, December 1, 2018,

The connection between “original sin,” misogyny, and white supremacism

So a rabbi on Twitter posted an inquiry which wasn’t directed at me, but to which I responded:

Continue reading “The connection between “original sin,” misogyny, and white supremacism”

  1. [1]Danya Ruttenberg, [microblog post], Twitter, November 25, 2018,