- The real scandal is overclassification: I'd explain it, but I'd have to kill you.
- The Australian Chokepoint Capitalism Tour: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra (twice!).
- Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.
- This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018, 2021
- Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading
The real scandal is overclassification (permalink)
The fact that every president and VP has a garage or filing cabinet or shoebox full of classified documents isn't (merely) evidence of political impunity – it's also the latest absurd turn in the long-running true scandal: the American epidemic of overclassification and excessive secrecy.
Thousands of American bureaucrats have unilaterally classified tens of millions of unremarkable documents without any legitimate basis for shielding them from public view. Meanwhile, millions of people have "Top Secret clearance" and can view these documents, making a mockery of their supposed secrecy.
Writing for The American Prospect, David Dayen crystallizes the incentives, problems and corruption that we should be paying to, and laments that instead, we're scoring cheap political points about the recklessness of presidents and ex-presidents, heavily salted with paranoid fantasies about the Danger to National Security (TM) posed by letting these docs escape the airless chambers of official secrecy:
Overclassification is a well-documented (ahem) problem, used by bureaucrats to cover up corruption, crimes and incompetence, as well as out of the lazy reflex to declare everything to be secret. This is abetted by members of the vast "Intelligence Community" who have rotated into the private sector and have a lucrative side-hustle as TV talking heads who spin spy-thriller fantasies about the risks of these paper broken arrows.
Dayen points to Senator Moynihan's 1997 report on "Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy," and its conclusion that if you declare everything secret, then nothing ends up being truly secret. It's a brilliant, readable, devastating critique of official secrecy. Nothing has been done about its recommendations:
In 2016, the House Oversight Committee concluded that 90% of classified documents should not be classified, the same figure that the DoD came up with in its own report, 60 years earlier:
Meanwhile, the Information Security Oversight Office – which oversees classification – keeps ringing alarm bells about overclassification, with 50m+ documents being classified in a typical year. Rather than listen to the ISOO, Congress has cut its staff in half over the past decade. 620 ISOO employees oversee the three million Americans empowered to classify documents:
In 2010, the Washington Post's Dana Priest and William Arkin took stock of the post-9/11 explosion in state secrets in their "Top Secret America" report: "No one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work."
Attempts to liberate classified docs using FOIA requests fail repeatedly, with US agencies returning heavily redacted documents, even blacking out a report on the plans of the "Group of the Martyr Ebenezer Scrooge [to hijack the Christmas Eve flight of] Prime Minister and Chief Courier S. Claus."
As Dayen says, the talking point from ex-spooks on TV that "overclassification is no excuse for bad document handling," is the equivalent of the old saw that "mass shootings are not the time to talk about gun control." And yet, the press keeps buying it.
Take the Politico op-ed by an ex-FBI spook, who turned the fact that "a foreign leader might like turnip-flavored ice cream into a classifiable scenario," proving that there is no overclassification excuse too absurd to get an airing:
The Australian Chokepoint Capitalism Tour (permalink)
Last October, Scribe Books published the commonwealth edition of Chokepoint Capitalism, the book Rebecca Giblin and I wrote about how monopolistic labour markets are rigged, and how we need to think beyond copyright to get artists paid:
Now, I'm headed to Australia to tour the book there with Rebecca, with dates in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra (no Perth or NZ this time, alas). It's my first time back to Oz since the Walkaway tour in 2017 – the tour where Rebecca and I conceived of this book, as it happens!
First up is Brisbane, with a talk and signing at Avid Books on Feb 8 at 6PM, hosted by The Griffith Review's Carody Culver:
Next is Melbourne, where we'll be back at ACMI on Feb 14 at 630PM, in an event hosted by Esther Anatolitis:
Then we're in Sydney for a Feb 15 event at the State Library of NSW, starting at 6PM, hosted by Maddison Connaughton:
We close out the trip with two nights in Canberra. First, we're at the ANU Cultural Centre with Dr Andrew Leigh, Australia's assistant Competition Minister, on Feb 16 at 6PM (co-sponsored by the Canberra Times):
And finally, we're giving a keynote address for Australian Digital Alliance's Copyright Forum 2023 on Feb 17:
I hope you can make it! Australia is one of my favourite places in the world and I've never had a bad event there.
Hey look at this (permalink)
- Exaggerating China’s military spending, St. Louis Fed breaks all statistical rules with misleading graph https://geopoliticaleconomy.com/2023/01/23/china-military-spending-st-louis-fed-graph/ (h/t Kottke)
The Cause of Stagflation https://economicsfromthetopdown.com/2023/01/26/the-cause-of-stagflation/
Dungeons & Dragons Scraps Plans to Update Its Open Game License https://gizmodo.com/dungeons-dragons-will-no-longer-deauthorize-its-open-1850041837
This day in history (permalink)
#20yrsago Feral hippos haunt druglord’s estate https://web.archive.org/web/20030210201621/http://asia.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=ourWorldNews&storyID=2097687
#20yrsago McDonald’s can award A-levels in UK https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7211958.stm
#20yrsago Category Management: retail trendiness or criminal anti-trust? https://web.archive.org/web/20030207054524/http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/print/0,1643,46334,00.html
#20yrsago Finnish recording industry demands royalties for kindergarten singing https://web.archive.org/web/20030207180706/http://www.infoanarchy.org/story/2003/1/29/02755/7928
#15yrsago Tipping-point skeptic says that super-Influencers are overrated https://www.fastcompany.com/641124/tipping-point-toast
#15yrsago SFWA European Hall of Fame: a chance to read sf from outside of the Anglo Bubble https://memex.craphound.com/2008/01/28/sfwa-european-hall-of-fame-a-chance-to-read-sf-from-outside-of-the-anglo-bubble/
#15yrsago Romanian manga — manga meets Metal Hurlant meets Marvel https://www.forbes.com/2008/01/09/romanian-manga-comics-forbeslife-globalpop08-cx-cd_0109doctorow.html
#15yrsago Good As Lily — ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers https://memex.craphound.com/2008/01/30/good-as-lily-ass-kicking-girl-positive-graphic-novel-for-young-readers/
#10yrsago Guy makes a game about his crappy job working for Canadian tax authority, loses his crappy job https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/01/30/revenue_canada_worker_fired_for_his_online_customer_service_game.html
#10yrsago Jonathan Coulton responds to Fox/Glee’s plagiarism of his song by “covering” it and making rival version available for sale https://web.archive.org/web/20130122033150/https://kotaku.com/jonathan-coulton
#10yrsago Aaron Swartz’s San Francisco memorial will make you stand up and salute https://archive.org/details/AaronSwartzMemorialAtTheInternetArchive
#10yrsago What the ban on unlocking phones means (worse than you think) https://www.eff.org/is-it-illegal-to-unlock-a-phone
#10yrsago WTO gives Antigua the right to sell pirated American copyrighted goods https://torrentfreak.com/antiguas-legal-pirate-site-authorized-by-the-world-trade-organization-130128/
#10yrsago American insurers charge reckless rich drivers less than safe poor drivers https://consumerfed.org/pdfs/PR.AutoInsurancePremiums1.28.13.pdf
#5yrsago What Ken Thompson’s seminal (terrifying!) “On Trusting Trust” tells us about the Spectre and Meltdown bugs https://community.cadence.com/cadence_blogs_8/b/breakfast-bytes/posts/why-you-shouldn-t-trust-ken-thompson
#5yrsago Analysis of North America’s weeds reveal the crops, trade, and cuisine of early indigenous people https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278416517301447
#5yrsago Fitness app releases data-set that reveals the location of sensitive military bases, patrol routes, aircrew flightpaths, and individual soldiers’ jogging routes https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/28/fitness-tracking-app-gives-away-location-of-secret-us-army-bases
#5yrsago Apple’s long-awaited podcast data-transparency reveals an ad-listening audience with no clear format-preferences https://www.wired.com/story/apple-podcast-analytics-first-month/
#5yrsago Property developer caught using critic’s photo in promotional materials, demands an end to criticism as a condition of paying for the use https://spitalfieldslife.com/2018/01/29/a-reply-from-crest-nicholson/
#5yrsago New York Times profiles a sleazy Twitter follower-farm, the sleazy serial liar who made millions on it, and the celebs, politicians, sports figures and “influencers” who paid him https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/27/technology/social-media-bots.html
#5yrsago One quarter of New Orleans’ catch-basins were clogged to uselessness with 93,000 lbs of plastic Mardi Gras beads https://www.nola.com/news/politics/46-tons-of-mardi-gras-beads-found-in-clogged-catch-basins/article_37e0ff53-894c-5aed-b4c3-129852582269.html
#5yrsago A 1×1 tracking pixel was used as evidence of treason against 30,000 Turks, sent tens of thousands to jail https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/terrifying-how-a-single-line-of-computer-code-put-thousands-of-innocent-turks-in-jail-1.4495021
#5yrsago Academic audit of HUD budget finds $351 million in unaccounted-for spending since 1998 https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/msu-scholars-find-21-trillion-in-unauthorized-government-spending-defense-department-to-conduct
#5yrsago Majority of Democrats now hold favorable views of mass-murdering simpleton George W Bush https://news.libertasbella.com/story/libertas-bella-news-acquires-the-anti-media/
#5yrsago Scott Walker is terrified that Democrats will win special elections to fill vacant seats, so he’s leaving thousands of Wisconsinites without state reps https://web.archive.org/web/20180901000000*/https://www.thenation.com/article/scott-walker-is-literally-preventing-wisconsinites-from-voting/
#5yrsago Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase announce new health insurer ‘free from profit-making incentives and constraints’ https://money.cnn.com/2018/01/30/news/companies/amazon-berkshire-jpmorgan-health-insurance/index.html
#5yrsago After industry adopts open video standards, MPEG founder says the end is nigh https://blog.chiariglione.org/a-crisis-the-causes-and-a-solution/
#5yrsago Meet Hereditary Congressman Dan Lipinski, an anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ Illinois “Machine Democrat” who opposes the $15 minimum wage https://theintercept.com/2018/01/29/dan-lipinski-illinois-3rd-district-marie-newman/
#5yrsago Convicted criminal Silvio Berlusconi returns to Italian politics as a kingmaker https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/world/europe/berlusconi-italy-election.html?smid=tw-share
#5yrsago Berlin regulates Airbnb and safely deflates its housing bubble while returning 8,000 rentals to the market https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-housing-law-replenishes-housing-stock-for-renters/a-42360345
#5yrsago What youthquake? Jeremy Corbyn’s election surge was drawn from all age groups, not a mob of first-time young voters https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/the-myth-of-the-2017-youthquake-election/
#5yrsago Inside big tech’s last-minute scramble to comply with Europe’s new privacy rules https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/technology/europe-data-privacy-rules.html
#5yrsago Starlings: razor-sharp stories and poems from Jo Walton https://memex.craphound.com/2018/01/30/starlings-razor-sharp-stories-and-poems-from-jo-walton/
#5yrsago The in-depth tale of Bylock, the Turkish messenger app whose 1×1 tracking GIF was the basis for tens of thousands of treason accusations https://arrestedlawyers.org/2018/01/21/ever-changing-evidence-bylock/
#1yrago The battle for Ring Zero: The esoteric argument I have been having with myself since 2002 https://pluralistic.net/2022/01/30/ring-minus-one/#drm-political-economy
#1yrago California's chance for universal health care ohttps://pluralistic.net/2022/01/28/american-exceptionalism/#ab-1400
#1yrago The Right to Repair: A stupendous new book on a very urgent subject https://pluralistic.net/2022/01/29/planned-obsolescence/#r2r
#1yrago No, payday lenders aren't nice guys https://pluralistic.net/2022/01/29/planned-obsolescence/#academic-fraud
Today's top sources:
- Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. Friday's progress: 584 words (99675 words total)
The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW
A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING
The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, a nonfiction book about interoperability for Verso. REVISIONS COMPLETE – AWAITING COPYEDIT
Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. ON SUBMISSION
Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION
Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. ON SUBMISSION
A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause." FINISHED
A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues." FINISHED
Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.
Latest podcast: Social Quitting https://craphound.com/news/2023/01/22/social-quitting/
- Chokepoint Capitalism: Can It Be Defeated? (UCL Faculty of Laws), Feb 1
Avid Reader (Brisbane), Feb 8
Future of Arts, Culture & Technology, ACMI, (Melbourne), Feb 14
State Library of NSW (Sydney), Feb 15
ANU/Canberra Times Meet The Author (Canberra), Feb 16
Australian Digital Alliance Copyright Forum (Canberra), Feb 17
Antitrust, Regulation and the Political Economy (Brussels), Mar 2
- David Pakman Show
TikTok Isn’t For Creators Anymore (Slate ICMY)
Lunch on Laotian food (Eating the Fantastic)
- "Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com
"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The Washington Post called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html
"How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59 (print edition: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism/9781736205907) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)
"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html
"Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.
- Red Team Blues: "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books, April 2023
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