Saturday, January 14, 2023

The My Pillowfication of Twitter

 Some, not Eli to be sure, think that Twitter is going down the drain. Ethon is of the contrary opinion and points to the ads. Ads, in case you don't know, are what brings in the money, and most of them on Twitter these days, are, let us say, of the but two and get ten free school

So let's take a look at a few

Not even NFT, but NFT adjacent

and, of course, crypto

Sunday, January 08, 2023


It's 2023 and the latest on the street is cobalt is mined by children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and cobalt is needed for batteries, thus we can't have cell phones or EVs. It's like last year's this is a big copper mine in Chile, therefore it is a lithium mine somewhere or other and therefore we can't have cell phones or EVs

Children working in mines is something the world needs to confront and do something to stop, but it's not just cobalt, but pretty much anything of value that is mined and it's not just now but it is historically always been something that needed to be confronted and the solution is not to stop this or that mine.

Siddharth Kara @siddharthkara has been trying to stir this up, but in a very, one sided, cobalt mining by itself is evil and Eli has been pushing back 

As UNICEF puts it

Parents don't make their children work out of cruelty. It's out of necessity, to help families survive. 

and that is the reason why anybody who points to children mining cobalt, lithium (or coal or diamonds or gold) needs to support funding education for the kids and better jobs for their families so they don't need their children's earnings to survive. You can donate, even small amounts, especially monthly, will help.

Or of course, you can always be traditional and claim this is why we can't have cell phones or EVs or why Tim Cook or Elon Musk are awful for not giving their bottom dollars (to be honest Elon is awful, but this is not why).

What Eli does see is that the denial whiners are using child labor as a cudgel against renewable energy (see copper mines above) and this is getting through to others who really do care. It's the same with homelessness in cities, the people who rail that Democrat's are awful are quite happy to do nothing to help. John Quiggin had a nice recent post on how the right maneuvers

The latest iteration relates to housing policy, and the claim that Democrats are the party of NIMBYism. For example this piece in The Atlantic by Jerusalem Demsas states
liberalism is largely to blame for the homelessness crisis: A contradiction at the core of liberal ideology has precluded Democratic politicians, who run most of the cities where homelessness is most acute, from addressing the issue. Liberals have stated preferences that housing should be affordable, particularly for marginalized groups that have historically been shunted to the peripheries of the housing market. But local politicians seeking to protect the interests of incumbent homeowners spawned a web of regulations, laws, and norms that has made blocking the development of new housing pitifully simple.
Demsas is way off the mark[1]. Biden’s infrastructure package included provisions for multi-family housing to be erected in traditionally residential zone. These provisions were vigorously resisted by Republicans, following the lead of Donald Trump, who used racist scaremongering to mobilise opposition. 
More generally, the YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) movement is now ascendant among leftists (AOC is a notable example), as well as moderate liberals like Biden. There are still plenty of left and liberal NIMBYs, but it’s Republicans who make NIMBYism a majority view.

And it's the same with child labor and slavery in mining. No one, except maybe the mine owners and the parents who have no other choice (and probably the US Supreme Court and recently Clarence Thomas, who have an awful record on this issue) are for it, but too many are willing to tutt tutt and ascribe the wrong to our need for batteries, rather than thinking about the root cause, deepest poverty and how to help rather than ostrich the issue.

Few also appear to understand that life in the mines historically has been exceptionally short and exceptionally brutal. In the first century Diodorus Siculus wrote about life in the mines

… the slaves who are engaged in the working of [the mines] produce for their masters' revenues in sums defying belief, but they themselves wear out their bodies both by day and by night in the diggings under the earth, dying in large numbers because of the exceptional hardships they endure. For no respite or pause is granted them in their labours, but compelled beneath blows of the overseers to endure the severity of their plight, they throw away their lives in this wretched manner […]; indeed death in their eyes is more to be desired than life, because of the magnitude of the hardships they must bear.– (Diodorus Siculus 5.38.1)
“No Time for School in 1911,” shows a group of young boys, aged nine to fourteen, at the end of their ten-hour shift in a West Virginia coal mine.

Kids working in mines disappeared in the developed world not so long ago. Although he can't find it, Eli remembers an interview with one of the kids that the Supreme Court condemned to a life of toil and poverty. Having grown up poor, illiterate and his health broken, he was asked what he got from winning the case (the mine/cotton mill owners brought the case in his name and his parents). His answer was one Coke on the way back from the court.

Step up (the answer is yes, before you ask)