The Burkini Model

Zuhdi Jasser on the burkini-clad model posing for Sports Illustrated:

If the point is to please the very conservative, Orthodox Muslims, they are hardly sitting there waiting for the new edition of Sports Illustrated.

It’s hilarious, and of course Jasser is making a joke to highlight the idiocy of the situation. The burkini model is there to let people virtue-signal by praising her “courage” and “feminism.” This isn’t about Muslims or for Muslims. People want to boost their progressive credentials by making socially appropriate noises. The model is an accessory. Like an expensive handbag among very rich folks.

What I always wonder is how the progressive snowflakes always know the approved position on everything. How do they know so fast that the burkini model should get heart emojis and not angry or sad emojis? Does the mothership beam the message directly into their brains?

The Cuteness Factor

That’s why watching South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who represents a population smaller than a New York City council district, outpoll Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren makes many of us want to eat glass; an entirely rational reaction to a datapoint that might discourage anyone without a Y chromosome.

I know it sucks but politics is about personality as much as it is about the issues. One would think that anybody over the age of 5 would figure this out and get over it without needing to eat glass. Vapid non-entities like Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin, Justin Trudeau, Beto or AOC attract a massive following because many people perceive them as cute. I’m not immune because much of my life of Bernie is a result of his accent and the Jewish grandpa spiel.

It’s ridiculous to make Warren’s lack of support about sexism, especially when comparing it with the success of a gay guy. He’s cute, he’s charming, and yes, he’s a total idiot but… see above.

Progress

Another victory for the neoliberal definition of progress:

A trans woman with “a male body with male physiology” set four new world records while winning a women’s powerlifiting event in America. On Instagram, transgender powerlifter Mary Gregory shared her joy at winning ‘nine out of nine’ events at the Raw Powerlifting Federation Event – and setting new world records for Masters Squat, Open bench, Masters dead lift and Masters total.

Surveillance Capitalism, 6

Here is Zuboff’s definition of surveillance capitalism:

Surveillance capitalism… is the foundational framework for a surveillance-based economic order: a surveillance economy.

What does this mean?

We are no longer the subjects of value realization. Nor are we, as some have insisted, the “product” of Google’s sales. Instead, we are the objects from which raw materials are extracted and expropriated.

In short, what industrial capitalism did with physical nature, surveillance capitalism did with human nature.

What’s the problem with that, you might ask? Well, think about the impact of the industrial revolution on physical nature.

As Zuboff says,

The essence of the exploitation here is the rendering of our lives as behavioral data for the sake of others’ improved control of us.

Control and, obviously, modification.

I have to run to class now but tell me, does anybody need page numbers for the quotes? I can provide them if necessary.

Surveillance Capitalism, 5

We keep hearing that privacy is eroded as a result of the digital revolution. Zuboff ayas, however, that “privacy is not eroded but redistributed.” We don’t know how Google and Facebook operate. They have privacy because they have the means to keep their operations private. Moreover, they have an opportunity to take over our privacy and make it theirs. Privacy still exists and it’s bigger than ever. It just doesn’t exist for us because it’s something that can be mined for profit by others.

Zuboff offers a great analysis of the language games played to conceal the redistribution of privacy. To give a single example,

The word “targeted” is another euphemism. It evokes notions of precision, efficiency, and competence. Who would guess that targeting conceals a new political equation in which Google’s concentrations of computational power brush aside users’ decision rights as easily as King Kong might shoo away an ant, all accomplished offstage where no one can see?

Of course, “targeted” also evokes military operations, which is closer in meaning to what the tech giants do.

Factual vs Emotional

So far, Trump has not done even 1/10 the harmful things Obama did. Sure, it likely is that he’s not competent enough to do so but what does matter is results, after all.

Folks, it’s true. It’s absolutely true.

The problem, though, is that it’s factually true but emotionally wrong. And people don’t care nearly as much about the facts as they do about feelings. That’s why I’m so interested in neoliberalism as “a structure of feeling.” It doesn’t make itself so irresistible by appealing to our rational side. Reason is powerless in most people once emotions begin to rage.

Paranoid

People are so paranoid. I was driving by the bank of which I am a client. I got a very important message that I urgently needed to answer. I hate people who text and drive, so I did the responsible thing, drove into the far corner of the bank’s parking lot, stopped the car, and proceeded to answer my message.

The message necessitated making a phone call, I was put on hold, it was all taking some time. Then I saw a gentleman lurking around the car. I rolled down the window, and the gentleman said that the bank’s employees were getting nervous seeing a car parked and nobody come out for 15 minutes. The lot was 80% empty, so I wasn’t taking up anybody’s spot.

We are a very low-crime area, so I have no idea why they were so freaked.