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Showing posts from January 21, 2016

Race Without Class: the “Bougie” Sensibility of Ta-Nehisi Coates

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[A pretty scathing piece on one of the most noted Black American writers on the topic of racism, Ta-Nahisi Coates. "The problem here is Coates' remarkably class-blind, overly identity-politicized bourgeois thinking and his related ignorance of the history of class relations and their centrality to the crucial problem that quite understandably concerns him: racial oppression." *RON*]

By Paul Street, Counterpunch, 20 January 2016


In an interview with his longtime friend Neil Drumming on National Public Radio’s “This American Life” last November, the celebrated Black American author Ta-Nehisi Coates talked about his new life in Paris, where he enjoys fine food and experiences personal training at “a really nice gym.” Coates described himself as “a snob,” someone for whom expensive things matter. At the same time he hastened to add that “I don’t think I’m bougie.” It was an interesting distinction. Coates expounded on the difference:

Neil…

Naked Self-Interest is a Recipe for Social Dissolution (a response to Branko Milanovic)

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[Read the Branko piece by following the link below. A thoughtful rejoinder to the Gekkos and Skillings of the world. *RON*]

by Peter Turchin, Cliodynamica: A Blog About the Evolution of Civilizations, 19 January 2016

Dear Branko,

Thank you for your comment stemming from reading Ultrasociety. It’s a very clear and coherent statement of what many (if not most) mainstream economists believe, although they don’t usually care to formulate it as well as you did. Naturally, I disagree with it—my whole book is an extended argument for the opposite view of how societies really function, and what needs to be done to make them to function better.

Let’s start by making crystal-clear what we are talking about. The main question is whether economic agents, most importantly businessmen (including both corporation officers and business owners), should be motivated solely by self-interest, or should they also be motivated by personal ethics. In your view, businessme…

Race, Class, and Social Reproduction in the Urban Present: The Case of the Detroit Water and Sewage System

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[An older piece I just ran across that makes some very good points. I don't think many of us thought we'd see the day when the city with the largest black population in America would struggle to acquire affordable clean drinking water. This article is a piece of good, old-fashioned Marxism. Social reproduction is a Marxist term that, according to Wikipedia, "refers to the emphasis on the structures and activities that transmit social inequality from one generation to the next." *RON*]

Jon Cramer, Viewpoint Magazine, 31 October 2015


In the last decade, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, the urban centers of the Midwest such as Chicago and Detroit, but also in the Northeast, such as Baltimore and Philadelphia, have developed a new dynamic: the use of the state (in the form of local or regional governments) to transfer infrastructural resources and their control out of or away from marginalized urban populations, which are …

The 0.1%’s Marie Antoinette Moment

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[Well put: blind, preening self-regard. *RON*]
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 21 January 2016

When you think you’ve seen everything imaginable in the “shameless” category, count on someone in finance to reach a new low.

The latest example comes from Davos. Private equity billionaire, Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzmnan is famed for his spending ($6 million 60th birthday party) and verbal excesses (comparing a proposal to end the carried interest tax loophole that made him super rich as opposed to merely rich to Hitler invading Poland). But those have either been to gratify his outsized ego or to defend his money machine. And although extreme, Schwarzman is hardly alone. In fact, Wall Street throwing tantrums over even small-potatoes threats to its profits is part of the new normal.

But Schwarzman at Davos has reveled himself to be utterly out of touch. His remarks in a Bloomberg interview:
What’s remarkable is the amount of anger, whether it’s on the R…

Novelist Obliterates The Bundy Militia — And Oregon’s Largest Newspaper — In 194 Words

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[She wrote some of my favourite novels but, to be honest, I wasn't even aware that Ursula K. LeGuin was still with us. Feisty as ever, though, and good for her! *RON*]

By Ryan Koronowski, Think Progress, 19 January 2016
Award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin has lived in Oregon for more than half a century, and has regularly visited the region surrounding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for 45 years. Ever since armed militants took over the refuge in a dispute over ranching fees on public lands, Le Guin has “been following the situation very closely,” she said in an email to ThinkProgress.

So when she saw an article titled “Effort to free federal lands” in the Sunday Oregonian, she did what any self-respecting, world-renowned author would do.

One Chart to Explain Politics Today

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[See WonkBlog at the link below for more description. The middle class in the developed world has been the big loser (along with the poorest of the poor) in the last 2 decades. *RON*]
By Taegan Goddard, WonkWire, 15 January 2016


Wonk Blog: “Imagine everyone, as in everyone around the world, lined up based on how much they make. (This would be adjusted for how much that buys in their home country, but don’t worry too much about that). Well, that would let us set up a global income distribution. The richest people in the richest countries—and, for that matter, everywhere else too—would make up the global top 1 percent. Working-class people in rich countries would be around the 80th percentile for the world. Middle-class people in middle-class countries would be, you guessed it, around the 50th percentile. And so on, and so on. Now, when you add it all up, it turns out that nobody has done worse the past 30 years than the working-class in countries l…

Ad-Blocking Firm Unceremoniously Dumped from Ad Industry Conference [Updated]

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[Some news web sites now simply will not let you read their stories if you have Ad Blocker turned on. The Ad Blocker's registration for the interactive advertising bureau's annual conference was revoked with no explanation. *RON*]
By Pavithra Mohan, Fast Company, 20 January 2016


The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has booted Adblock Plus from its yearly conference with little more than "sorry, not sorry." The company, which boasts more than 400 million downloads of its ad-blocking browser extension, was dismissed with a curt email from the IAB, according to an Adblock Plus blog post.

A screenshot posted to Adblock Plus's blog shows an email exchange between the company and the IAB, in which a representative of the IAB simply states that Adblock Plus's registration had been canceled and the fee refunded:

Internet providers want to know more about you than Google does, privacy groups say

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[We live in what will surely be known in future as the Wild West of privacy; that is, if future generations can even fathom what privacy means. *RON*]

By Brian Fung, Washington Post, 20 January 2016
Most of us know, at least in the abstract, that Google and Facebook are tracking our every move online. Even Netflix collects detailed information on our binge-viewing habits, the better to make decisions about which films to drop from its catalog or what new TV series to invest in.

But what if I told you there are companies that can go much deeper than firms like Google and Facebook in their data-gathering prowess? Companies that not only know that you watch Netflix for two hours a day but also how long you spent reading this article before going back to Twitter and, at the same time, that you soon intend to go on a vacation because of all the time you spend browsing airfare sites?