Unusual Challenge, Conclusion

The concluding unusual activity of the challenge is that I finally went to the city’s public library. I’ve lived here for almost 10 years and never been. I know, it’s ridiculous.

Our public library is so big and beautiful that Klara started asking me, “Can we go to this palace, Mommy?” So finally I got over myself and went. It was a great experience. I will now go constantly. It’s definitely a better place than our campus library.

I hope now everybody understands why I need these challenges. I get stuck in a rut and can’t even get my tuches to a library. It’s shameful.

Surveillance Capitalism, 8

Zuboff doesn’t use Bauman’s vocabulary of fluidity and the nation-state (although she obviously quotes him a lot), but she is talking about the same process that fascinated Bauman. The tech companies she discussed are very aware of it, too. Here is a sample quote:

“Business Insider covered Schmidt’s [the executive chairman of Google] remarks at the Mobile World Congress that same year, writing, “When asked about government regulation, Schmidt said that technology moves so fast that governments really shouldn’t try to regulate it because it will change too fast, and any problem will be solved by technology. ‘We’ll move much faster than any government.’””

What other way is there to describe this but the erosion of the nation-state by capital?

Now let’s look at our political field. Is anybody talking about this? If you are going to be elected to office in a reality where all institutions of state governmentality are losing relevance, wouldn’t that be an important issue to address? Instead, we are hearing antiquated fantasies about raising trillions more in taxes and spending this imaginary money as if the neoliberal revolution never happened. This is clearly ridiculous.

Liar, Liar

CNN saw its prime time lineup drop 26% in April compared to the same month one year ago. CNN’s total audience in prime time was well under a million viewers–767,000–while competitors MSNBC and Fox News finished the month far ahead: MSNBC in second place overall with 1.660 million total viewers, and Fox News leading all of cable with a total audience of 2.395 million.

Viewers in the 25-54 age brackets are abandoning all 3 major networks, albeit at very different rates. (Those younger than 25 don’t know what a TV is and have no idea of why anybody would watch the news at all.)

CNN lost 41% of viewers in this demographic in under a year. MSNBC lost 36% and Fox lost 19%.

Of course, the strength of Fox News compared to CNN and even MSNBC is only due to everybody being a Nazi and not to the fact that CNN has been wrong about everything for a long time.

CNN doesn’t have a single show in the top 25 led by Hannity, Tucker, and Maddow. In the meantime, CNN is gathering one award after another (from itself and not from the viewers) for the high quality of their journalism.

Surveillance Capitalism, 7

Zuboff reminds the readers that “taking things that live outside the market sphere and declaring their new life as market commodities” is what capitalism has always done.

Capitalism constantly comes up with more things it can bring into the market sphere. The libertarian economist Tyler Cowan has a series of posts on his blog titled “Markets in Everything.” Bringing the logic of market exchange into everything is what capitalism does. We have learned to speak of our relationships and bodies as if they were commodities, for instance.

Surveillance capitalism wants to turn human nature into a commodity. And we all know that commodities aren’t allowed to just exist. They are always futzed with to make them more appealing to the consumer. And remember, we are no longer the consumer. We are the raw material that commodities will be fashioned from:

In this future we are exiles from our own behavior, denied access to or control over knowledge derived from its dispossession by others for others. Knowledge, authority, and power rest with surveillance capital, for which we are merely “human natural resources.” We are the native peoples now whose tacit claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own experience.


From the NYTimes:

“In the next election, I think it is inevitable that every single voter will have been profiled based on what they have been reading, watching and listening to for years online,” said Johnny Ryan, the chief policy officer at Brave, a private web browser that allows users to block ads and trackers.

It’s horrible, horrible, but I still feel unhealthy curiosity over how I’d be profiled. Because as we all know, I’m all over the political map.


Maduro is, of course, a monster and a dictator. Venezuelans are suffering horribly. Chavismo is a disaster, like any socialism. Maduro is only in power because Putin sent in his mercenaries to prop up the dictatorship.

But I also believe that the US should do absolutely nothing whatsoever. Latin Americans need to be left alone to experience their socialist fantasy to the very last drop. Sanctions, the acceptance of Guaido, that’s all great but nothing beyond that.

They are going to blame the US no matter what because without this easy bugbear, who’s there to blame? Like the Estonian actor said in the video I posted recently, “When my father hammered nails and hit his finger, he’d yell, fuck USSR! Now there’s no USSR, and when I hit my finger with a nail, I don’t have anybody to blame.”