Pluralistic: 22 Sep 2020

Today's links

Uber for evicting people (permalink)

Civvl is a gig economy company that pays you to evict people. They're running nationwide recruiting ads.


The company boasts "flexible hours," the chance to "be your own boss," opportunities for "self-motivated individuals with positive attitudes" and claims it is the "FASTEST GROWING MONEY MAKING GIG DUE TO COVID-19."

It's (apparently) not a prank – rather, it is a division of Onqall, another gig economy bottom-feeder that makes special-purpose gig apps like Lawnfixr, Cleanqwik, and Moveqwik.

Though Onqall isn't very successful, it did manage to hire Ice T to star in one of its ads, where he says, "It's basically Uber, for side hustle jobs. You dig it?" (It appears Ice T was recruited through the Cameo service).

In a delicious grifts-all-the-way-down twist, the Civvl app also preys on the people who sign up to get paid to evict people, levying a hidden and deceptive $35 signup fee.

When Ashwin Rodrigues contacted Civvl/Onqall for comment on behalf of Motherboard, they blocked his IP address from visiting their website.

Though there is a federal eviction moratorium on, many landlords are breaking the law and evicting their tenants.

To avoid eviction, you must fill in this form. Tell your friends:

Part 15 of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (permalink)

This week on my podcast, I return to my reading of "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town," my 2006 novel that Gene Wolfe called "a glorious book unlike any book you’ve ever read."

This week, for Part 15, there's a lightly fictionalized version of Toronto's legendary Suspect Video, which is, incredibly, still a going concern!

You can catch up on the whole series here:

Here's a direct link to the MP3 (hosting by the Internet Archive – they'll host your stuff to, for free, forever):

And here's the podcast feed:

Facebook threatens to leave EU (permalink)

The Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems – whose grad school project kicked off the process that led to the passage of the GDPR – has been hounding data-hungry US tech companies around and around the EU.

Back in May, Schrems brought a complaint against Google for its tracking practices, arguing (convincingly) that it was violating EU privacy law by spying on us:

And in July, the EU's top court upheld Schrems's earlier assertion that the US-EU "Data Shield" agreement was incompatible with EU privacy rules and that tech companies should be barred from sending Europeans' data to the US for processing:

In the wake of this, the Irish Data Protection Commission – which has jurisdiction over all the Big Tech giants who planted a flag of convenience in Ireland because it operated an illegal tax-haven – has ordered Facebook to process Europeans' data in the EU, not the US.

The preliminary order was released in August, though it had been in the works for many years, and it gave Facebook only 3 weeks to respond.

Citing this short timeframe, Facebook has now threatened to pull out of the EU altogether, cutting off 400m+ European users of Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, etc. The company is suing to reverse the order.

(And though FB's spokeslawyer clearly, publicly, threatened to pull out of the EU, another spokesperson denied the company was making this threat when contacted by David Gilbert for Motherboard)

Gilbert cites experts who say that FB will not leave the EU, irrespective of whether the judgment is upheld. FB's longstanding project to replace the federated internet with a corporate total surveillance walled garden is not compatible with abandoning a 500m person market.

And the EU clearly has the political will to push Big Tech around, in part because of Europeans' resentment of US hegemony and in part because of the tech giants' disgusting conduct – tax cheating, spying, monopolizing.

Brick House (permalink)

Brick House is a new "wolf-proof" co-op of journalists late of such organs as The Awl, Splinter, Deadspin, Gawker, etc – sites that delivered amazing news and commentary, but which were ultimately poisoned by corporate owners and vindictive billionaires.

They vow to put aside the idea of "media as a business" in favor of "media as a public trust" and they want to avoid "geeks bearing grifts" – Silicon Valley types with plans to "save journalism" – in favor of a journalist-owned co-op press.

They propose to publish nine separate publications:

I. AWRY: "a new hub for comics edited by Jason Adam Katzenstein, with an emphasis on new voices, critiques of power, and specific stories never before seen in cartoon form"

II. FAQ NYC: "a podcast that tries to make sense of the only city in the world, brought to you by Professor Christina Greer, Harry Siegel, and Alexandria Lynn. It features interviews with some of the most powerful and interesting people in New York City"

III. HMM WEEKLY: "By editor Tom Scocca"

IV. OLONGOAFRICA: "Opinion, literature, travelogue, journalism, and topical writing"

V. NO MAN IS AN ISLAND: "focused on the connections between everyday life and politics, writing on Taiwan and other peripheral places in the world"

VI. POPULA: "Alt-global audience: humanist, egalitarian perspectives on news and culture"

VII. THE SLUDGE REPORT: "Unfiltered view of the swampiest politicos behind the week’s headlines"

VIII. TASTEFUL RUDE: "Art, literature, celebrity, and politics, eschewing the white cishet male gaze in favor of every other gaze"

IX. PREACHY: "A new space to write and think critically about spirituality, religiosity, and modes of peace and introspection"

The founders are raising cash and offering merch (zines, tees, etc) in return, and will use the money to build the platform for these publications.

The co-op promises to be structured with "no owners, no executives, and no investors, only cooperative members holding shares in common; shares can't be sold or transferred."

I like the sound of that enough to have backed the project, but I also fear that this sounds like they have no graceful way for people to bow out of the project, retire, etc. I hope they think this through, as ensuring that there can be equitable divorces in future is key.

Their Kickstarter has raised the $75k they were seeking and is on track to raise far more:

This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Record industry releases malware that deletes your P2P software

#10yrsago Bank of America forecloses on a man who has no mortgage

#10yrsago Evercookie: a tracking browser cookie you can’t delete

#10yrsago William Gibson talks writing-craft

#10yrsago Top UK spies revealed as wankers

#5yrsago Why is it so easy to believe that the UK super-rich have sex with pigs?

#5yrsago Litigation Finance predators: champerty loves company

#5yrsago Bitcoin Ponzi operator pleads guilty over $150M fraud

#1yrago Ian McDonald’s “Luna: New Moon” – the moon is a much, much harsher mistress

#1yrago Authenticating a video showing hundreds of kneeling people in shackles and blindfolds on a Chinese railroad platform

#1yrago The lost audiobooks of Roger Zelazny reading the Chronicles of Amber

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Slashdot (, Kottke (

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 573 words (63868 total).

Currently reading: Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

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