America's trains suck on purpose: "Ride a fast train to Washington today and you’ll start thinking about national health insurance tomorrow."
The project of starving, stripping and dismantling all common goods in the USA is an ideological project that is the endgame of a movement that hit its stride in the Reagan years. Its irrational phobia of state spending -- however necessary and beneficial -- is a mirror image of the Soviet terror of the free-market. Without the Soviet Union, America has become its warped-mirror twin, a land where standing in endless lines is the norm, where all the stores sell the same things.
But the bias against the common good goes deeper, into the very cortex of the imagination. This was exemplified by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision, a few short years ago, to cancel the planned train tunnel under the Hudson. No good reason could be found for this—most of the money would have been supplied by the federal government, it was obviously in the long-term interests of the people of New Jersey, and it was exactly the kind of wise thing that, a hundred years ago, allowed the region to blossom. Christie was making what was purely a gesture toward the national Republican Party, in the same spirit as supporting a right-to-life amendment. We won’t build a tunnel for trains we obviously need because, if we did, people would use it and then think better of the people who built it. That is the logic in a nutshell, and logic it seems to be, until you get to its end, when it becomes an absurdity. As Paul Krugman wrote, correctly, about the rail-tunnel follies, “in general, the politicians who make the loudest noise about taking care of future generations, taking the long view, etc., are the ones who are in fact most irresponsible about public investments.”
The Plot Against Trains [Adam Gopnik/New Yorker]
America's telcoms sector is hugely concentrated and corrupt, and systematically underinvests in maintenance and infrastructure even as it gouges customers, which it can get away with thanks to its monopoly power, leaving Americans with some of the world's worst, most expensive communications services.
The past two years have seen a tremendous shift in the public perception of capitalism and socialism, the character of philanthropy as reputation-laundry rather than generosity, and the nature of wealth as an indicator of sociopathy, not virtue or cleverness.
Elizabeth Warren has released a characteristically detailed campaign plan to counter white nationalist violence in the USA, whose multi-pronged approach includes directing the DoJ to be more vigorous in pursuing white nationalist groups (and to lay off the Cointelpro-style surveillance of groups that advocate for protections for racialized people); centralized data collection on white nationalist […]
If you’ve ever tried to shoot your own videos, you know the equipment costs to do it right can mount up quickly. Even if you’re fine with capturing video on your trusty smartphone, you still need a mount to keep your phone in place. And you’ll need a mic to augment your smartphone’s not so […]
“The whole point of a programming language is to get the most out of the computer and the developer…This is why I like Python so much…few Python developers write code that is difficult to pass on to another developer.” With so much in tech so inherently complicated, that comment from Thomas Hatch, CTO and co-founder […]
In baseball, utility players often stay employed almost exclusively because of their versatility, their ability to slide effortlessly into a variety of needed roles and remain productive. Your current tech setup doesn’t need to work any differently — except that tech items are usually created to fulfill just one purpose. But if you want a […]