Archive for the ‘sick society’ Category

Here’s the problem: Social media isn’t a charity. It’s run for profit.

There’s an interesting anomoly here: The most heavily curated social media, like Nextdoor and Facebook, is also the most overrun by racist science deniers.

Which doesn’t seem to make sense. If you have moderators who are overseeing the site, how come they don’t deal with racism and science denial when they see it?

Well, there’s two kinds of moderators, both of which are cheap (or even free) and are used in order to save money. The first kind is volunteers. And volunteers swing towards those who have the most time to volunteer: Old white people. Old people of color are busy raising their grandkids (raising the kids is a community affair there), while younger white people generally don’t want their racist conservative old folks involved in raising their kids. 

So the volunteers tend to overlook much of the racism on these sites, because hey, they came of age when the n-word was in daily use amongst white people and everybody “knew” that those “porch monkeys” were just inferior to white poeple, so they just don’t see racism as, well, racism. And when it comes to science, well, they just don’t understand all that newfangled stuff. So they go with whatever Faux News says, since they’re also a demographic that heavily watches Faux News.

The second kind of moderators tend to be poorly educated white Southerners. They’re hired because they’re cheap. You can go into someplace like Jacksonville Florida and hire a whole building full of what we’d call “poor white trash” back in the day for less than it’d cost to hire that same building full of people in India, once you consider training costs and the extra costs of dealing with bribes and bad infrastructure in India. Thing is, they’re even more poorly educated than the Indians would be. And racist. And don’t understand anything about science, so they go with whatever right-wing media says, since they’re also a demographic that is heavily viewers of white-wing media.

So that’s the dillema. We want accurate science on social media. We don’t want racism on social media. But the most heavily curated social media is the worst social media *because* it’s most heavily curated — because the curators themselves are racist science deniers due to social media hiring the cheapest labor they can find. The end result is that anti-racist voices are drowned out, and pro-science activists are actively censored on those platforms. Because. Money. Money trumps all. The good of society…. bah, when did that ever make investors rich?!

  • Badtux the Gresham’s Law Penguin


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I have been vaguely following the recent Britney Spears conservatorship stuff. Talk about a sordid mess. It’s clear her father only views her as his money bags and wants to retain control over her in order to continue exploiting her for money. Her father got the conservatorship because Britney was a bratty drug-addled neurotic mess, but it’s clear that nobody around Britney has her best interests in mind, just their own.

I also viewed a documentary, "Once Aurora", which follows a young Norwegian pop singer (ages 18 thru 20 at the time) through two years of her life as her management tries to build her up into an international superstar. What struck me was the difference between her life and that of Britney Spears at her age. Like Britney, she was pushed to perform to the point of exhaustion by male managers around her. Unlike Britney, she’s not a bratty drug-addled neurotic mess, her parents have a comfortable life in a beautiful home overlooking a beautiful fjord and have no desire to exploit her, only to support her (they are not wealthy, being a midwife and a garage door salesman, but nobody in Norway is truly poor like here in the United States), and even her manager, while grumpy and pushy, seems to have a respect for his young protege’ that only grows over the course of the documentary even as he is disagreeing with how tightly she is controlling what’s going onto her next album.

Then I think about the cultural differences involved here. In Norway, nobody is truly desperate. Aurora’s management could dedicate years to building up their young charge and thus give time for that mutual respect to arise between management and their young singer as they try to make her into an international superstar because Norway’s social safety net meant that nobody had to worry about being hungry homeless and starving. Aurora’s parents have a comfortable life without any input from Aurora’s money because of Norway’s egalitarian society thus have no incentive to exploit her. Thus the Aurora of this documentary seems surprisingly level-headed given the situation that she finds herself in. Yes, she’s on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, teenage girls do that drama thing really well, but all things considered she’s maintained her sanity and self-worth surprisingly well because Norwegian society is supportive, not exploitive, and while she has the record industry types trying to exploit her she also has that support from her entire society. Norwegians may consider her weird, but they also consider her one of their own.

Meanwhile, the United States is a dog-eat-dog world where you have to make all the money you can make as soon as you can make it because there’s always going to be a new face to take your place. Poor Britney was exploited from day one as her parents used their little moneybags to build an affluent lifestyle for themselves. She never had any opportunity to just be herself. The end result was the self destructive behavior that we saw once she managed to temporarily wrench herself out of their control — shaving of head, quickie marriage, etc. – and the continued neurotic and self-destructive behavior we see from Britney even as it becomes clear that the conservatorship is no longer necessary in order to protect her from herself.

If American society was more supportive rather than so exploitive, we wouldn’t burn through our most talented youth so quickly. Who knows what Britney Spears would have accomplished if most of the people around her had been supporting her rather than trying to exploit her? But then, if American society was more supportive, we wouldn’t be America, I guess, for better or for worse.

– Badtux the People-watching Penguin

* The documentary. I really can’t recommend actually buying it unless you’re fangirling over Aurora because honestly who needs to spend that kind of money just to learn about some Norwegian pop star, but pirate versions are available elsewhere on the Internet if you’re curious. 

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May be an image of text that says '1,161ews.13h WORKER.EXE HAS CRASHED UNEXPECTEDLY Next WORKER. YOU STRESS LEVELS ARE RISING. YOUR PERFORMANCE IS FALLING. REPORT TO THE MINDFULNESS BOX FOR A BREATHING EXERCISE IMMEDIATELY. THIS TIME WILL BE DEDUCTED FROM YOUR BREAK. Gizmodo Gizmodo 1d Amazon Introduces 'AmaZen' and Zen Booths for Its Overworked Warehouse Staff dlvr.it/ dlvr.it/SZC6f Mindful Practice Room FASTENM torecharge the internal battery.1'

Amazon noticed that workers were taking too long of breaks to pump milk, make quick phone calls home, etc., so they have installed these portable break rooms closer to where their serfs err workers are working in order to reduce the time it takes to get to a break room.

— Badtux the Serfin’ USA Penguin

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During 2020, at least 110 American journalists were arrested or criminally charged in relation to their reporting, and around 300 journalists were assaulted, the majority by law enforcement, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, of which CPJ is a founding member. The Tracker is working to verify more than 930 total incidents in 79 cities.

These are numbers that you would expect from a 3rd world police state upset about press coverage of their heavy-handed actions, not from a supposed advanced democracy. About the only ray of sunshine in the whole situation is that while American journalists were arrested in unprecedented numbers last year, at least they were not being summarily executed.


— Badtux the Serfin’ USA Penguin

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Silence is complicity

Why I am not silent.

Read JZ Ellis’s essay below. All the way. It’s long, but it’s important. It’s about every Border Patrol agent putting children into cages. It’s about every police officer shooting unarmed men in the back or suffocating them as they gasp for breath begging for their mother as they die, or just standing by in silence as one of their own does those things. It’s about every politician, every civil servant, who defends these monsters, or who order these monsters to do the things they do. It’s about every drug company, doctor, and hospital that deny life-saving treatment in the richest country on Earth because of the almighty Profit that is their only prophet. And ultimately, it is about the people who allow this to happen in silence either because they endorse or condone atrocity, or because they just don’t care.

It is about America.

Just some Nazis having fun

Just some everyday working people having some fun between genocides

JZ Ellis
November 2, 2018 · Shared with:Public
This picture always struck me, because unlike so many photos of the time, it’s so relaxed and unposed – just a bunch of coworkers, having fun. But this is a resort called Solahütte. It was built for these people, and it was 18 miles from where they worked, a place called Auschwitz. It was built to give them a break from their very important work.

These smiling, happy people were on their day off from putting Jews in ovens.

A lot of times people will say they look at the faces in photos like these and try to understand. But I don’t need to try. I understand these people thoroughly. Those two on the left in the front? They were besties, party girls, just waiting for the war to be over so they could get down to the business of finding husbands and enjoying their twenties. Blonde boy behind them? A bit awkward but always up for a laugh. The guy with the accordion learned it from his grandpa, but never had any intentions of playing professionally – it was good for parties, though.

They had their fun out there in the woods – it’s good sometimes to get away and just leave your worries behind, isn’t it? – and then they got back in their cars and they rode back to the camp and they got on with the business of genocide. The party girls, they were in charge of noting down every possession they took from the incoming as they went through processing. Blondie? He told the children, sternly but not unkindly, how important hygiene was, as he led them to the showers. Herr Accordion? A laboratory assistant to Doktor Mengele, absolutely marvelous at keeping the equipment clean and organized – that was his real skill, not just laying down a rousing chorus of “Horst Wessel” when the beer was flowing, and he was much valued for it, and the fact that he always remembered your birthday and asked about your family. That’s important when you’re stationed far away from them, isn’t it? To have someone who reminds you of normal life, just waiting on the other end of the Allied surrender.

Of course. That’s exactly who they were. And absolutely none of it negates the fact that the nice people in this photo were fucking monsters, many of whom ended their war at the end of a rope or in front of a firing squad. And you know what? I bet they did it crying, begging, screaming that it wasn’t fair, that they had a job to do, that’s all, they were given a job and they were expected to do it, and what would you have done in their place?

That, right there, is the most important question you have to ask yourself. It’s one I’ve pondered my entire life. And I know my answer: I would never allow myself to be put in the position of finding out. I’d rather run or die. It’s why I could never have been a cop or a soldier. The lesson I learned from these people was to never put myself in a position where I was required to do evil in the name of following orders. And I have very little sympathy for those who choose otherwise.

There are not good people on both sides. There are party girls and weekend polka players everywhere, people who are kind to their children and bake extra cookies for their neighbors, but some people choose to be the instruments of horror and others do not, and history is rightfully merciless to the former.
So when you tell me that some of the people in America espousing the same madness that these people in this picture committed atrocities for are really not that bad if you get to know them, that there are good people on both sides, I don’t believe you.

Because I do know them. And I do not care.

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Before WW2, a house was something you lived in. There were no 30 year mortgages — there were one year personal loans backed by property, which had to be renegotiated each year. These loans were for only up to 50% of the price of a home, so you had to save up at least 50% to buy a home. The end result was that most homes owned by regular working people were modest and often built by the people who lived in them. In the big cities, most housing was rental housing, though the burgeoning middle class could afford the new brownstone townhouses that were being built in places like New York City because they were relatively affordable.

Before WW2, once you bought a home, you expected to live in it for the rest of your life. You didn’t want its value to appreciate because that would result in higher property taxes. Houses were not piggy banks. They were not a savings instrument. They were a place to live.

Starting after WW2, you had Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and FHA loans and VA loans and so forth. The 50% deposit before the war became a 20% deposit, or even less with the FHA and VA loans. What this caused was housing inflation. With more money going into a fixed stock of housing, the price of housing rose. This in turn encouraged builders to build more housing, often better housing than the existing housing stock, which encouraged people to sell their current house and buy a bigger / better house. People started wanting the value of their home to appreciate because when they sold their current home and bought up to a better home, that meant they could buy a bigger / better house. Then once people reached retirement age, it meant they could buy a smaller house in a cheaper part of the country and bank all that appreciation as income for their retirement.

Sometime in the 1970’s, people who owned houses realized: If we don’t allow more houses to be built, demand for our houses will go up, and then we will be able to get more money when we sell our house! This realization didn’t happen nationwide. It happened mostly in affluent cities like San Francisco and New York City. NIMBY-ism became predominant in those cities. Anything that could cause a decline in the price of a house became basically illegal — including the construction of high density housing, the construction of housing for the poor or mentally ill, and so forth. And as the price of housing increased every year but no new homes were built, the poorest of the poor started being thrown out on the streets and told “Sorry, the American Dream is not for you. Live like a stray dog, not like a human being.”

So now the streets of major cities are clogged with homeless people, a large number of whom are mentally ill, who use the sidewalks as toilets because there are no public toilets, and the homeowners in these cities are outraged, outraged I say. But for some reason, their own part in this outrage never seems to occur to them. Strange, that, eh?

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“It’s a mental health problem!” say the right wingers about the recent spree killers.

No. Mental health in the United States is no worse today than it’s ever been. Yet spree murders continue to rise, to the point where we had two spree killings this weekend alone.

We don’t have a mental health crisis causing spree killings. What we have is a Nazi crisis. We have a problem with young white men being radicalized with white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies in much the same way that the Middle East has a problem with young Arab men being radicalized in Islamist ideologies, with the same result — they commit terrorist acts.

Because that is what these are: terrorist attacks. They may claim these are “lone wolf” attacks, but you look at what these young white men actually believe, you’ll see that they’ve been radicalized just as much by neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies as Middle Eastern terrorists have been radicalized by Islamist ideologies. They choose to engage in spree killing rather than don a suicide vest because guns are easier to buy here than bomb-making materials are, but that’s a difference in murder technique, not a difference in motivation — which is terrorism, period.

And it doesn’t help that Hair Twitler encourages them….

– Badtux the Observant Penguin

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Over 8 months after being ordered to do so by a Federal judge, the Trump Administration says they have no plan to reunite children with their parents because it’d be “a burden”.

A burden. Reuniting children with their parents would be a burden.

This is sick, sick stuff. But this is what America is today. What was once The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave is today the Land of the Baby Kidnappers and the Land of Cowards Scared Of Brown People From Central America.

For the inevitable who say “if you don’t like it, leave!” — nope. I can’t change the fact that there are a significant number of Americans who are, well, evil (and I use the word because there is no other word that can apply to a people who support things like this), but at least I can hang around and document the atrocities until it comes time for my ashes to be buried in the landfill. Perhaps the generation coming of age today will be braver and less venal. They could hardly be more cowardly and more venal.

— Badtux the Sickened Penguin

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Stalin’s Soviet Union was a vicious place, where at any moment the secret police could arrest you and send you off to the gulag concentration camps. Children under the age of 2 got sent with their families, while children above the age of 2 went to relatives or state-run orphanages. One thing that was *not* done was to rip children away from their families and send them to separate concentration camps just for children. Granted, the orphanages weren’t exactly cushy places. But they weren’t concentration camps. Unlike this:

This is a detention center for unaccompanied children. It is set up in an abandoned Walmart store. But this is a cushy detention center. Why, they’re given mattresses to sleep on, instead of being required to sleep on the raw concrete! That at least makes it better than the detention cages on the border:

The cages on the border are where the children are kept for one to three days before they can be shipped off to the “cushy” detention center. They’re not given food during that time, and are not given a mattress or blankets. Because it is a “temporary” holding facility, Homeland Security claims they don’t need to provide any of that.

Note that this photograph dates to 2014, during the Obama regime. Which shows that the Republican lie of Obama not being “tough on immigration” was utterly false. Obama was no friend of immigrants, just as the black community, as a whole, is no friend of immigrants, who they view as having come into America and taken “their” jobs. And so the cycle of viciousness towards our fellow man goes on, despite everything that God says:

Hell, even the Southern Baptists, who are as regressive as you can get without being a total Bircher, are rather queasy about the whole be-mean-to-immigrants thing:

God commands His people to treat immigrants with the same respect and dignity as those native born … we desire to see immigration reform include an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families … any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is especially hypocritical is people like Vice President Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions who claim to be Christian advocating treating immigrants badly, even to the point of wanting to send migrant kids to tent cities in the fierce Texas summer heat, something would have made Stalin chortle with delight since he did the same thing with adults when he sent them to the frozen Siberian north. But Stalin never claimed to be Christian. I mean, if you claim to be Christian, shouldn’t you, like, obey the word of Christ? Isn’t that, like, the whole point of being Christian? But I guess their Christianity stops when they exit the churchyard door.

And so we continue treating children in ways that would make Stalin envious in their utter cruelty….

– Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

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While doing research for the current novel, I spent time looking at what happens to the least amongst us when they die. Our poor and homeless die in the streets regularly, except that the cause of death is always listed as “exposure” or “pneumonia” or some other disease that comes with poor diet and poor housing and lack of medical care, rather than “nobody gives a shit about the least amongst us, unlike what the Bible says to do.” The dead bodies get scooped up and hauled off to the morgue on a regular basis, often never identified as anything other than “John Doe” or “Jane Doe”, then after a belated attempt to identify them over the course of a couple of weeks by trying to match missing persons reports with dead bodies or a belated attempt to find relatives who can afford to claim them, they’re incinerated and buried in a mass grave somewhere along with others who died indigent or anonymous or just nobody cared.

Eichmann would be proud of the silent and efficient way in which we disappear the dead bodies of our untermenschen, our unidentified, our unwanted, our poorest, the least amongst us. His mass graves were messy things later opened up and used as evidence in a war crimes tribunal against him, after which the Israelis hanged him. Our mass graves are quiet, and the ashes in them will never testify against the society that put them there.

– Badtux the Grave Penguin

Note: The state of California is especially bad here. In California, it is not permitted for non-relatives of the deceased to claim his body for burial. So if the deceased’s family is all dead, nope, he can’t be buried in the family plot. His ashes get buried in a potter’s field somewhere.

Apparently the law in question was intended to keep random people from claiming corpses in order to use them for nefarious purposes like, say, necrophilia. Yay, California. Master of unintended consequences ever since 1849.

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