Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (actually, during the dot-com boom), there was an Internet cafe named CoffeeNet in San Francisco’s South of Market Area (SOMA). It was reasonably successful and yes, I liked the place.
But then the landlady (we’ll call her the Wicked Witch of the East) raised the rent.
Now you have to understand that the way many, if not most, restaurants make their money is to feed people and get them out the door, clearing the table for the next guests. The idea is, ultimately, volume. An Internet cafe flips that model on its head and the CoffeeNet was modest in the costs it imposed for Internet access (I think you had to buy coffee and/or food but I really don’t remember). The CoffeeNet was even more reasonable about this if you brought your own laptop.
See updates through March 22, 2021, at end of post.
I have long felt that capitalism is, in U.S. society, even more of an ideology than it is an economic system. Now, with talk of human sacrifice, I think I would have to call it a religion, or, because no major religion any longer demands human sacrifice, perhaps a cult. Read more
Part of what makes COVID-19 and its associated lockdowns so terrifying for gig workers is that we know we are taken for granted, generally forgotten except for the briefest pleasantries when people need our services. The very point of this labor arrangement is that no long-term relationships are involved. We don’t matter, we’re utterly expendable, and the independent contractor scam, more formally known as worker misclassification, makes sure we don’t matter and that we are utterly expendable. Read more
See updates through February 28, 2021, at end of post
I have to say that I just don’t handle Elon Musk well.
First, I want to focus on substance rather than personality. But he surfaces in part through an unsettling and bizarre combination of arrogance—even a weirdly well-intentioned cruelty—persistence and audacity, sometimes, as I have previously noted, not really very logically, but nonetheless inescapably. I can recognize the merits of a case study here, but the thought of actually conducting it repulses me entirely.
Enforcement of Tom Wolf’s order shutting “non-essential” businesses in Pennsylvania due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was to begin at 12:01 am today, will be delayed until March 23 at 8:00 am. In an earlier iteration, the order was explained this way:
“This isn’t a decision I take lightly at all,” [Tom] Wolf said. “It is one that I’m making because medical experts believe it is the only way we can prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients.”
Update, May 14, 2020: Added figure 1.
Some of the very sad things I see as I drive around the Pittsburgh area are abandoned houses (example, figure 1). Some were just ordinary houses. But some were really, once upon a time, quite grand.
Fig. 1. Abandoned houses in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Photograph by author, May 14, 2020.
I hear and see a number of stories. Some houses suffered fires. I’ve been told that some are abandoned when taxes come due and it takes too long for the county to claim and dispose of the properties. Read more
What if your political locus is neither the social upheavals of the 1960s nor the 2008 financial crisis?
Adam Gopnik wrote an article for the New Yorker in which he contrasted the “New Left” of the 1960s, which has been appalled by the rightward shift of U.S. politics since then, with folks for whom the 2008 financial crisis, and specifically, Barack Obama’s response to it, exposed the corruption of the Democratic Party. While he captures much of my experience, he misses much of my perception, and that left me feeling distinctly uneasy. Read more
I found an image on Twitter from a user who does not make their posts public and whose privacy I will therefore respect:
Figure 1. Image downloaded from Twitter on March 3, 2020. If we assume a U.S. timezone, it was likely posted on March 2.
What’s curious here is that mainstream Democrats feel no need to respond coherently to claims such as this. Instead, we get drivel such as,
[Rahm] Emanuel’s preoccupations are about power. What sometimes comes off as casual derision for the left is rooted in two main fears, both grounded in his own experience. First, is the ease with which a liberal agenda can be weaponized by conservatives. Democrats win majorities only by carrying tough districts filled with voters who can embrace specific uses of government to make life better but are wary of Big Government in the abstract. Second, is the ease with which liberal ideals can be distorted in practice by special interests.
Notice there is no attempt at a defense of progressive ideas. Rather, the conservative weaponization and the fear of “Big Government” are excuses not even to try. Read more
Rahm Emanuel adds to the pile of evidence of mainstream Democrats’ disparaging view of progressives. Read more