Pluralistic: 17 Sep 2020

Today's links

Attack Surface a la carte (permalink)

I'm a Kickstarter noob, so when I launched my first campaign, for the audiobook of my next novel, ATTACK SURFACE (the third Little Brother book), I made some newbie mistakes.

Chief among these was the structure of the rewards. I'm pre-selling the audio and the ebook for Attack Surface and the audio and ebooks of Little Brother and Homeland, the books that proceeded it, and for some reason I thought backers could just mix-and-match among them.

I was wrong! You can only choose one backer reward! Kickstarter is not a shopping basket. Duh.

Luckily, Kickstarter has a new, experimental feature called "Add-Ons" that let you (yes) add on a supplemental reward to existing ones.

So I added on add-ons! If you've already backed the campaign and you want to add any individual ebook or audiobook, you can go back and do so – and naturally if you're backing the campaign for the first time, you can mix and match as you see fit.

Look, the campaign is going REALLY well. It's only minutes away from breaking $200,000 (!!).

My publishers had a plan to offer a free audio/ebook of FORCE MULTIPLIER, a new Little Brother story, to pre-orderers, but they've been overwhelmed by your Kickstarter orders. (!!!)

So with their permission, I've changed plans. Every single backer, at any level, will automatically get Force Multiplier as an audiobook and ebook, with no further action needed on anyone's part. It'll be automatically added to your order at the end of the campaign.

I am incredibly honored, humbled, gratified and elated by your generosity and support. I still want to crack 10,000 backers, which, I think, will seriously alter the dynamics between major publishers and Amazon:

But whether or not that happens (and I think it will!) this has been an unqualified success, and it's down to you folks. Thank you.

Kapital! The board game (permalink)

France's hottest new boardgame is "Kapital!", created by "celebrity sociologists" Michel Pinçon and Monique Pinçon-Charlot to help players "understand, apprehend, and even experience the sociological mechanisms of domination."

Players compete to amass different kinds of capital: "financial capital, cultural capital, social capital, and symbolic capital," and dominant players strive to avoid "General Strike" while other players pray for redistribution.

Apparently it's not just symbolic and zeitgeisty, but also a great board-game, with Board Game Geek giving it a rave:

If it sounds familiar it may be that you, like me, were raised my Marxists who kept a copy of Avalon Hill's classic "Class Struggle" board game around the house.

I haven't played it in decades, but a recent review reminds me that its creator, Bertel Ollman, has quite a history: "He was Sean Hannity’s NYU professor. Hannity accused Ollman of giving him a poor grade at NYU for being a conservative."

Private equity's new debt-and-loot bonanza (permalink)

Private equity sounds like just another source of investment capital, like venture capital or hedge funds, but while these can be incredibly destructive and toxic, private equity has perfected destroying the real economy, ruining lives and making rich people richer.

PE is fundamentally about destroying real value and converting it to wealth for already-rich people.

Here's the core play: buy a company, load it up with debt, fire employees, cut wages and squeeze suppliers.

Value is transferred from productive businesses and workers to partners, bankers and lawyers in coastal cities. New monies flow in through lobbying, litigation, price-hikes and pension fund looting, paid out as dividends and consulting fees.

Companies acquired by PE funds see sharp debt hikes, slowed revenue growth, and plummeting capex.

PE is behind so much of what's wrong in the world today, from looting Canada's beloved Mountain Equipment Co-Op:

To gutting hospitals and especially emergency rooms, a trend that INCREASED after the pandemic started:

They killed Sears, Toys-R-Us and Hertz:

and they're coming for your pension:

The US Government kicked off an incredible debt bonanza when it announced that it would buy corporate bonds, no matter how crappy the company's fundamentals were, leaving the largest firms awash in effectively free cash.

Naturally, PE – which never met a debt it didn't like – hopped on board. The latest PE craze is dividend recapitalisations ("divi recaps"), AKA "borrowing crazy amounts of money on behalf of a company and then just sticking it in your pocket."

ONE QUARTER of all US debt raised in September went to divi recaps (it was 4% over the past two years). That's four billion dollars this month.

Oh, then there's this: "investors express concern over loose documentation underpinning the loans, offering little protection to investors should a company end up in trouble." -Joe Rennison, Financial Times

What could possibly go wrong?

This is the true heart of the "zombie economy" – an economy that "improves" whenever sociopaths destroy its productive capacity:

This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago Intel threatens lawsuits against HDCP jailbreakers

#5yrsago Ex-mayor of Bismark, ND trademarks alternatives to "Fighting Sioux" in bid to prevent UND team from switching to non-racist name

#5yrsago Irving police violated Ahmed Mohamed's civil rights

#5yrsago 3D print your own TSA Travel Sentry keys and open anyone's luggage

#5yrsago Campus cops: all the powers of real cops, none of the accountability

#5yrsago Watch Ahmed Mohamed's awesome press conference about being a rogue clockmaker in America

#5yrsago Do you really trade your privacy for service on Facebook?

#1yrago The Babysitter's Coven

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources:

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 566 words (62108 total).

Currently reading: Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Latest podcast: IP

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When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla