Tech Companies: “How Dare You Suggest We’d Help Build the Muslim Registry We Already Built!”

So, when I saw this item the other day, I immediately thought of this blog post I penned in January 2015.  tl;dr on all this:

Trump transition team has been publicly mulling over creating/reviving a “Muslim Registry.” The Intercept started calling social media/tech companies and only one—Twitter—said “We’d never help with this!” (FYI, IBM has been down this road before, and yet still somehow doesn’t know the right answer to this question).  Yesterday, Facebook finally clearly said “No way! We won’t do it! We’d never build a Muslim Regsitry!”

But here’s the thing:

  1. As I pointed out back in Jan 2015, these companies have already built these databases.  They know when you are sleeping, they know when you’re awake, they know if you’ve been bad or good or if you even give two shits about Santa Claus.
  2. More to the point, the abstract threat I wrote about back in Jan 2015, when it freaked me out a little that Amazon had clearly flagged me as a Jew, became real in the Spring of 2016 when a bomb threat was called in to the Jewish Community Center housing my daughter’s daycare.  Because I sit on the Board of our congregation (which uses that building regularly for our religious services), I ended up touching base with the local police and FBI agents investigating the incident.  As it turned out six JCCs across the U.S. (in locales as far-flung as St. Louis, New York, and Louisiana) received the same threats at the same time—and all had very similar names.  When I did some googling, I found that all of us were listed together alphabetically in online Jewish education directories, with our phone numbers and addresses.  I.e., someone was just working their way down a list. This time around, it was just to make phone calls and fuck with us and our kids.  Next time?  Who knows; here’s what said in 2015, and it’s still about the same:

[I]n Amazon’s datacenter, I’m a row in a table. The index on that row is something like “CUSTOMER #2045674” and the cells include “kindle-owner” and “SF reader” and “owl pellet buyer” and “Jew” and my mailing address. Just another row, among millions–until that table gets resorted by the “Jew” column, and then I’m a box waiting to be ticked off by God-knows-who for God-knows-what-reason. Maybe they want to send me free Xanukah candles! Maybe they want to send me a bomb disguised as a printer cartridge! I guess I’ll have to wait for the mail man to come and find out then!

So I guess it’s swell that Facebook and IBM and Amazon and whoever else handwould never-ever-ever build the Muslim Registry they already built, but what if they maybe entirely accidentally do build a registry (which they already built, which is already being used to facilitate hate crimes and international terror)?  What then?

FYI, in business jargon, this is an externality.

 

I’m Pretty Sure It’s *Not* the Economy, Stupid

Listen: Basically all consumer goods are imported.  Go through your things now and look for labels: your phone, tv, and computer are Chinese; your shirts are Bangladeshi and Cambodian, your pants Mexican and Nicaraguan. There is exactly one U.S. factory making men’s underwear; those undies are awesome, and cost ~$28 each. 

art by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/
(art by DonkeyHotey)

If Trump places a 35% tariff on foreign goods, you’ll need a $6,000/year raise in order to keep treading water (in that your spending on imported manufactured goods—about 38% of the average American household budget—will go up by 35%). Alternately, you can spend $28 for each pair of Made in the USA underwear, $12 for every pair of socks, and I guess not have an iPhone or TV or vitamin supplements or anything with a rare-earth magnet in it (i.e., a computer, a hybrid car, many power tools, many car covers…the list goes on). 

Inflation-Adjusted U.S. Household Income 1966–2015
Inflation-Adjusted U.S. Household Income 1966–2015 (source)

The only reason that most Americans haven’t noticed that our real (inflation-adjusted) household incomes have been flat since 1965 is because we’ve enjoyed the enormous savings on manufactured goods that comes with globalization. I’m foggy on why anyone wants to give that up—even if, by some crippled miracle, a huge tariff leads to t-shirt and underwear manufacturing returning to U.S. soil, we don’t have the capacity to produce those things at volume any more.  I think there’s only a single jersey cotton weaving mill left in the U.S.  It would take years to get factories retooled (or, hell, built; many of those old factories are now lofts, open-plan offices, and unoccupiable attractive nuisances).  In the meantime you have the same crappy job you did in October, and you’re paying 35% more for the same shoes and kids pajamas and phone chargers and disposable razors.

So what were Trump voters voting for if it wasn’t the economy, stupid?  I really can’t imagine; I didn’t vote for him.

Pseudopod: Year 10–Support this Lil Engine that Can and Does

In celebration of their 10th anniversary Pseudopod—a consistently solid horror fiction podcast—is running a kickstarter:


Pseudopod has an excellent track record—both in terms of delivering the goods and doing right by their contributors—and impressive longevity (10 years of weekly operation publishing fiction for free is hard going; I know from experience).  Their goal is to raise funds to increase what they pay artists and ensure their longevity.  These are Good Things™

Kick in a few bucks; the 21st Century is nuts, and perhaps the nutsiest thing is the jaw-dropping array of free arts & letters we each enjoy every day—but it can only be free on the daily if we all kick in now and again.  This is one of those moments.


Add bonus
: there are some really nifty backer premiums, including this rad-as-hell mug and their first ever anthology, For Mortal Things Unsung—which features both reprints of pieces they

Pseudopod Horror in Clay limited-edition tiki mug
a mug of unspeakable horror

bought for the podcast (including mine), as well as new work A.C. Wise, Jim Bihyeh, and others.