another ostensibly progressive breakthrough

Max Blumenthal's magazine Grayzone opines on the latest box office junk:

Captain Marvel was marketed as a feminist blockbuster, a rare superhero movie featuring a female lead...
As is so often the case in Hollywood, however, ostensibly progressive breakthroughs in cultural representation were seamlessly blended with US militarist propaganda.

The essay describes how the Defense Dept. participated in making the film and how the script shills for Empire. As long as identity boxes are being checked none of this is supposed to matter. Sounds horrible.

speak for yoursel(ves)

Netherlands-based net theorist Geert Lovink has a new book coming out called Sad By Design. The thesis outlined in the lead essay seems to be "smartphones and social media make us sad." Lovink's employment of the first person plural throughout the essay is a turnoff, e.g.,

By browsing through updates, we’re catching up with machine time – at least until we collapse under the weight of participation fatigue.


After yet another app session in which we failed to make a date, purchased a ticket and did a quick round of videos, the post-dopamine mood hits us hard.

As noted previously, this use of "us" and "we" irritates. If Lovink said "I" did these things or had these feelings he'd sound like a pitiful stooge.
The present blog is certainly guilty of using "we" or "you" instead of "I" but it's mostly a writerly habit of trying not to sound too pompous.
When I write I don't assume that you never joined Facebook or owned a smartphone. Or stopped tweeting in 2018.
I'm not sad about having a blog with with no like buttons or page view counters and I don't expect you are sad about whatever you do online or in life. Use Facebook and phones if it makes you happy, if it doesn't don't use them.

cassette aesthetics, bandcamp marketing, etc

Searching Vitamin D (early '90s house DJ) led to his most recent project, Cold Busted records, and specifically a hiphop easy listening LP called Sailing, by Moroccan beatmeister saib.
I like the design and overall aesthetic of this (sold out) cassette:


Sailing is also available as a CD or streaming, and there's also (sold out) vinyl.

The song Tropics caught my ear and I streamed it a few times before triggering Bandcamp's annoying "Now is the time to open thy heart/wallet" notice. Sometimes that can be ignored but this time it was preventing further listening. No doubt this semi-dark pattern works as a sales technique, and some listeners may in fact open their wallets.
For my own account as an obscure Bandcamp artiste, I specified "unlimited streaming" with the theory that: I don't mind users getting repeat plays of a low-res mp3 -- it might take more than four plays for them to decide to invest in a FLAC! In any case, i don't want to turn them off with an annoying message that actually prevents them making an informed sales decision, ha ha.

three links towards a political philosophy

New ideas are clearly needed if your choices at the voting booth are Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. That pairing, considered inevitable by the pundit class at the outset of the 2016 primary season, resulted in the populist "FU" we are currently living through. That's not really an "idea," though, it's mostly been chaos.

What are some alternatives to neoliberalism-as-usual administered by bland technocrats? (The word neoliberalism is vague and overused but for now let's define it as the status quo of corporate faux-market-based ideas practiced by government, which has the practical effect of siphoning cash from the general public into the private sector.)

At one extreme is the right/libertarian idea of a pure government-by-market. This Ayn Randian vision is neatly dismantled in a satirical interview on the Naked Capitalism blog, "Journey into a Libertarian Future, Part I," originally posted in 2011 and reposted this week, which envisions law enforcement run along the market principles of Obamacare. Instead of government hiring cops, think insurance companies.

On the left we're seeing a raging battle between what Benjamin Studebaker, in a thoughtful post, calls "materialism" -- offering the voter actual tangible benefits such as medicare-for-all and free college -- and "idealism," which means changing voters' ideas about race and identity before any practical solutions are attempted. Studebaker makes a good case for the former, but one might wonder what his modern welfare state is going to look like. A government that relies on algorithms to administer benefits, as seen in Denmark and described in this Foreign Policy magazine article, could be hellish.

That welfare dystopia is precisely what the libertarian critique in the first link (shorn of its satire) is concerned about. But government-by-algorithm isn't really left-distributionist so much as a public-private partnership between government and Big Tech, with "algorithms" deciding whose benefits get cut off. The flaw in the Foreign Policy article is not asking who is selling this tech to Denmark. It seems unlikely that the bureaucrats have their own homegrown programmers; probably they'd be relying on Silicon Valley tech entrepeneurs, whose politics are actually neoliberal-masquerading-as-libertarian. So we're back to the Obamacare model, with algorithms rather then insurance supplied by the private sector. More information is clearly needed on how this would all work.