17 April 2020

Unaltered Working Conditions

One must wonder how much social distancing is being enforced in sweatshops turning out protective masks these days; I suspect about as much as at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. But although I've been working in some variety of a "home office" (which has, at times, included more than one hospital bed) for a couple of decades, I'm still discovering stuff.

  • At least someone has found a real use for Barbie. I strongly suspect that it's a use that Mattel would object to, vehemently… as I attended the oral argument in this matter (I was arguing the very next case, and there's a disturbing echo a couple of links down the platter). And, in any event, Sarah Williamson is — if anything — understating the problem, which is also about class: Not so much artists, but definitely collection curators, are from an extremely restricted set of backgrounds. "Just showing good taste over the years" is nowhere near good enough… or, as anyone who has ever lifted an eyebrow at LA's MOCA, NYC's MOMA, or the Tate Gallery might well agree, even relevant. And that recursively feeds back into Barbie, a toy not exactly targetted at the class of individuals likely to casually visit a museum of fine art (let alone work at it).
  • Which is reflected in the distorted market for "fine art" that in the best of times — and these are far from the best of times — does not enable more than a handful of artists to actually earn a living from fine art. Especially if they work in clay and stone, which are rather non-fine-arts materials. These days at least, given the prominence of inexplicably renowned crappy found-object sculpture (covered in, as I remarked long, long ago in a gallery review, "Sears' Best" black latex paint).
  • One can also wallow in the mire of the full COVID–19 bill. And that commentary comes nowhere close to the damage done to logistics systems, especially if ignorant ideologues get their way.
  • Now, a history lesson. There's a viciously entertaining precedent for Drumpf's proclamation of his authority to adjourn Congress on his own motion: Charles I of England, who adjourned Parliament in 1629. Now in those pre-Internet days, politics moved a little slower; there wasn't a 24-hour news cycle — indeed, lacking a First Amendment or lesser-and-inadequate free speech right, there wasn't a "news cycle" at all — but even the UK won't prorogue at whim any more. So it took just short of two decades to end Charles I's administration. (I supposed that's the ultimate in term limits.) In this kinder, gentler time — ha! — I suspect whatever consequences there are would be much quicker. Even with this Court, this Senate Majority Leader, and this version of the Big Lie (which doesn't even bother to get the small things right).
  • But that's not the worst big lie today. Here's an exemplar, right at the top of the Chicago Sun-Times home page (and it's far from the only, or even most-intrusive, version of this lie):

    It looks like you're using an ad-blocker. Ads help support quality journalism and make it possible for us to keep bringing you the hardest-working news.

    Well, I've been seeing that message whether or not I have an ad-blocker running. For at least six months. But that's because I manually block access to both tracking cookies and the sites that attempt to track views and clicks persistently (that is, after leaving the page).

    It's not the ads themselves I object to (at least, not most of the time). I read paper magazines and newspapers, and watch TV on a stupid TV (if that isn't redundant; the key is that it's not an internet-enabled "smart" TV), and occasionally see the sides of buses and billboards. There are a few ads out there that I find offensive… but I just choose not to pay attention to them. It's the tracking I object to. Mark I of Facebookia (and his friends at Cambridge Analytica, who carelessly got caught) is just, well, the convenient face of this problem. And given what I do — protecting creators' rights, which necessarily involves going to some pretty dodgy 'net neighborhoods, like the piracy haven that calls itself the Internet Archive (which allows hidden JavaScript injectors to reside inside of "scanned" material) — the irony that what might get tracked from me if I wasn't blocking that tracking would thoroughly mislead any real advertiser seems to have escaped notice. In this, I'm far from alone, even utilizing social distancing.

    That major media outlets — including newspapers and their equivalents attempting to portray themselves as Third Estate watchdogs and the heirs of Woodstein — are lying by misusing the term "ad" (which has a well-established meaning) for these exercises in data-gathering does their credibility no good at all. They should ask themselves if part of the public's distrust of them is because almost everyone knows that calling a page segment that attempts to place seventeen trackers (that's the count this morning at the Sun-Times) by the misleading name "ad" is a lie.

    So bugger off on your whingeing. Go rake some muck — even the FauxNooz variety might bear a closer relationship to truthfulness (or at least to truthiness). And stop taking advantage of people being stuck at home — working or otherwise — to intrude even more deeply into their private affairs. If the media was really interested in "public service," it would turn off (or block at its own servers) the tracking in all ads it displays.