Patriot Fanboy Conspiracy Theory

The stuff of parity: NFL punishes quarterback for winning too much

writes John Teti about “Deflate-gate”. His claim:

The outlandish punishment leveled against Brady and his team isn’t just an overreaction to an inconsequential offense. It’s also an implicit admission that all along, Deflategate has been about the NFL taking one of its most successful teams down a notch, and not about the “integrity of the game.”
[…]
For the NFL’s owners, a big selling point of the modern league is its parity. When every team has a fighting chance, the theory goes, fans are more likely to stay interested, enlarging the captive audience.
[…]
There are billions of dollars tied up in the idea of parity, and the Patriots are defying it. They aren’t in because they tinkered with some footballs.

This is not a very convincing claim, when you think about it: Tom Brady has been an awesome story for the NFL – a sixth-round pick that made it into the spotlight, (supposedly) good-looking, with a model wife, never in any trouble with the law. If the NFL were to design a poster boy, it couldn’t do much better.
Also, yes, New England has won four Superbowls…over the course of 13 years! That’s certainly successful and given that it’s always been the Brady/Belichick duo, one could talk of a dynasty. But apart from 2003/2004 (ten years between Superbowl wins three and four, btw), this is not dominant and therefore not a problem for parity.
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Borgen is (relatively) realistic political TV

I’ve written my piece about “The West Wingbefore but to recap:

  • Everybody in the show is idealistic and has only the people’s best interest at heart – even the right-wing (Republican) opposition
  • Realistic politics in the show are always center-right: having to “fix” social security, balance the budget etc.

By now, I’ve been subjected to several episodes of “House of Cards“. Six, to be specific, so I might have missed some aspects:

  • (Almost) everybody in the show is extremely cynical, and has only their own interest at heart. The few exceptions get steam-rolled.
  • Center-right politics, e.g. standardized testing for teachers, are pushed through to hurt the Democrat president, the unions (also cynical bastards) are flattened in the process. Nothing left of these policies is mentioned.

I’ve also run into “Scandal“, watched the first season:

  • The Republican president is remarkably reasonable, even willing to pass legislation allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens, being gay is almost fully accepted, when people fuck up, they mostly made honest mistakes.
  • Clinton and Bush the youngest get name-dropped positively.
  • The US are the beacon of democracy in South America while their left-wing opponents are ruthless dictators.
  • The far right in the Republican party is so deranged that they’ll have a young Christian fanatic fake having conceived the president’s baby, kill her when things might come to light, and kill the reporter who has found out about it.

So all of those are very much black-and-white, and incidentally leave no space for left-wing alternatives to the shit that’s currently passing for government politics in the industrialized world.

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Taking sides…once again

It is frankly disgusting how the same shitty playbook plays out again: the current “official” government of Yemen came into power when protests in 2011 turned into something approaching a civil war, with shelling of the presidential palace and fighting in the streets.

Saudi Arabia and a bunch of other actors took sides with the opposition against the government then in power. (and of course the US gave their agreement)
This is the same approach that those actors chose in Libya, btw, taking sides in a civil war against the government, just with more active involvement of European powers. And that they were too nervous to fully follow in Syria even though they want that government gone.

The resulting agreement was not exactly to the liking of all protesters and most importantly the Houthi minority in North Yemen, in part because the structure of the state itself didn’t really change much. Those Houthis had been opposed to the prior government and had been bombed by Saudi Arabia for it because the Saudis are nervous about Shiite rebels at their southern border. That same Saudi Arabia which eventually pushed out the government the Houthis were opposed to.

Over the last half year or so the Houthi have been winning a new civil war in Yemen. A few days ago, Sunni suicide bombers blew themselves up in Shiite mosques. The same kind of Sunni radicals that the US (and its “allies”) is currently supposedly so worried about in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia etc. – opposed to the Shiite militia winning the civil war in Yemen.
And yesterday Saudi Arabia and a bunch of other North African states (and apparently Pakistan) decided to intervene in the civil war in Yemen – on the side of the government (with logistical and intelligence support from the US). One of those states is Egypt, which pushed their own democratically elected government out by military force not too long ago without having been sanctioned for it in any way. Others include states that have flown air strikes against Sunni militias in Libya – not during the civil war against Gaddafi but during the current civil war, the one that followed Gaddafi’s ouster and death.

So armed rebellions against existing governments are wrong, unless they aren’t – as so often before. Or in the words of the US state department

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That’s what you get when you hollow out the middle class

So, the supermarket chain Target closes down its Canada operation.

CBC News discusses this further in an article titled “Middle class retailers dying a slow death: Don Pittis“. And, of course, in a move nobody should be surprised by, their initial diagnosis has nothing to do with the stagnating or declining wages or some such, and everything with personal choice:

Aldwin Era is convinced that retailing is dividing in two, one for the rich and one for the poor. He has a simple theory about why: People no longer want to be seen as middle-class shoppers.

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Posted in developed countries, private debt, standards of living, wealth distribution | Leave a comment

From faulty premises

I assume that Vinod Khosla is a smart man. According to the byline under his recent Forbes piece titled “The Next Technology Revolution Will Drive Abundance And Income Disparity” notes that

Vinod Khosla co-founded Sun Microsystems and is the founder of Khosla Ventures, which focuses on sustainable energy and IT investments.

but the first couple of paragraphs get things so spectacularly wrong that his following “analysis” is effectively meaningless.
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Posted in belief systems, economic policy, standards of living, techno utopianism, technology assessment, wealth distribution | Leave a comment

The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race

writes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yes, that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And he simply nails it, by calling out how the racism discussion is/will be a smoke-screen:

[U]nless we want the Ferguson atrocity to also be swallowed and become nothing more than an intestinal irritant to history, we have to address the situation not just as another act of systemic racism, but as what else it is: class warfare.

By focusing on just the racial aspect, the discussion becomes about whether Michael Brown’s death—or that of the other three unarmed black men who were killed by police in the U.S. within that month—is about discrimination or about police justification. Then we’ll argue about whether there isn’t just as much black-against-white racism in the U.S. as there is white-against-black. (Yes, there is. But, in general, white-against-black economically impacts the future of the black community. Black-against-white has almost no measurable social impact.)

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Posted in democracy, gender, media, Modes of control, oligarchy, Racism, Sexism | Leave a comment

“Sharing economy” is a euphemism for exploitation

CBS has a post up titled 5 ways the “sharing” economy works against workers. For those who don’t know, “sharing economy” refers to companies like AirBnB and Uber that have non-employees rent out private property like appartments or cars, and services and successfully skim off the top. The AirBnB-founder tries to coopt the terminology of Couch Surfing and use it as a shield. Yet, as CBS points out, this is just a great way of exploiting people:

Stability. One key difference between traditional employers and the Internet companies pioneering the sharing economy is that the latter can’t promise their employees steady income.
[…]
Income.[…]But such numbers can be deceiving. Companies may mention top-end pay or a gross amount for all workers. In fact, the pay for gigs appears not only far more modest, but often nowhere near a living wage.

Meanwhile, even when the cash seems good, much of the cost of running the business falls on workers.
[…]
Benefits. Most employers in the sharing economy don’t offer benefits because the drivers, maids and other workers in these industries aren’t employees.
[…]
Control. The companies that provide such services often emphasize the control people have over their time, and for some workers that flexibility can be a major plus. Yet unpredictable hours and unstable income can undermine that autonomy.
[…]
Protection. A key advantage for companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb is that they are largely, if not entirely, unregulated. Yet that is starting to change. Municipalities and states around the U.S. are now weighing whether and how to level the playing field. The legal and regulatory repercussions could end up falling more heavily on the drivers, renters and other individuals who participate in a given sector than on the tech companies providing the online framework for business.

So if you have the choice, spurn those companies’ offers – especially so if you try and shop exploitation-aware in other contexts, for instance trying to buy Fairtrade or organic.

Posted in exploitation, health benefits, Modes of control, workers' rights | Leave a comment