Thomas Lord: 1966-2022

This blog has lost a longtime friend and comrade, Thomas Lord.

From the Berkeley Daily Planet:

Thomas Lord was born April 26, 1966 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he lived until the age of 10 when his family relocated to western Massachusetts.

He graduated from Phillips Academy Andover in 1984.

He attended Johns Hopkins University and Carnegie Mellon University, and in 1987 began his career as a software engineer at Carnegie Mellon, working on the Andrew Project.

During this time he became interested in the free software movement ( and thereafter dedicated himself to developing and supporting free software (aka libre software or open source). He worked as an employee of the Free Software Foundation, developing for the GNU Project, for several years in the early 1990s.

In 1995 he first moved to Berkeley and began spending time in People’s Park, a place and a society that held great meaning for him.

He returned to Pittsburgh PA in 1998, then came back to the Bay Area in 2001 and relocated permanently to Berkeley in 2004.

In 2007 he married Trina Pundurs, his life partner since 1992.

Upon settling in Berkeley, he began engaging with city politics and policymaking. His interest led him to contribute to the Berkeley Daily Planet, and his work with Planet editor Becky O’Malley drew him further into city and regional issues, especially housing, displacement, and homelessness. In 2016 he was appointed by then-Councilmember Cheryl Davila to serve on the City Housing Advisory Commission.

In 2018 he was profoundly moved by a news report about scientists weeping in the aisles at COP 24, where the IPCC presented its Special Report on the impact of global warming of 1.5° C (“IPCC SR15”). Upon studying SR15, and following the work of Greta Thunberg, he became a tireless advocate of speaking the truth about the climate emergency and treating it as an actual emergency.

In addition to his climate and housing activism, he spent several years volunteering with students at Longfellow Middle School as part of the Writer Coach Connection program.

He died unexpectedly this week of a massive brain hemorrhage.

Thomas is survived by his wife Trina Pundurs, mother Luanna Pierannunzi, uncle Christopher Lord, aunt Sharlene Jones, and many cousins and extended family.


Turn our sorrow into strength!

The RMT strike will fail … even if they win their demands

According to the Daily Mirror, these are the issues motivating workers in the RMT strike in Great Britain:

“Essentially it boils down to pay and working conditions. The RMT argue that their staff – who worked throughout the pandemic – are now facing below inflation pay rises after years of wage freezes. The union wants a pay hike of at least 7%, ahead of predicted rises to inflation of 11% in the autumn. The RMT rejected a 2% offer, with an added 1% tied to job cuts. They are concerned about proposed redundancies and changes to working conditions, after the railways proposed making efficiencies following the pandemic, which has led to more people working from home. Unions believe that as many as 2,500 jobs could be at risk.”

Now, here is a problem for communists: while they may support the RMT strike very much and many communists even participate in it as members of the unions, they actually want the opposite of what the unions are fighting for.

Come on, let’s be honest.

It is no secret that every communist who is part of this strike, and all communists who support it, want every worker without exception, including RMT members, to be jobless and to labor without any wages at all.

Where the mass of workers want to gain steady, stable employment, communists want 100% unemployment and the complete replacement of direct human labor in production by machines. Where the mass of workers want to gain a steady, stable living wage, communists want wages to go to zero.

Largely, the difference between what the average worker wants and what the average communist wants is a matter of time horizon. In the short term, communists view employment and wages much the same as the mass of workers. The difference between the communist view and the view of the average worker tends to take shape only past the point we might call the communist horizon — that point where assumptions about employment and wages among communists rather unpredictably invert so that both employment and wages go to zero.

I say ‘unpredictably’ because, if asked, I doubt many communists can even define the conditions under which this state of affairs would emerge. -Some might cite Marx’s commentary on the Gotha Program or another classical communist, but I doubt they could do more than regurgitate the basics. And, without being able to define those conditions, we really have no way to determine whether we have met them 150 years after Marx’s commentary.

I mean, after all, Marx was wrote his brief comments in 1875. This is 2022. In 1875, the telegraph was a killer app. Times have changed, right?

When Marx wrote his commentary, the communist horizon was — to use a polite modern term — aspirational, which is to say it was something the proletarians aimed for, but could not hope to immediately achieve even if they took power. Material conditions were not prepared for the complete abolition of labor and wages. The closest workers would hope to get to that ideal, even if they held state power, was some form of system where their private consumption was tied to their labor contribution. No one could access to common consumption means without making this contribution. A situation, in other words, where those who lived off the labor of others would be eliminated.

And even if the working class gained power, it still would take decades of further development to reach material conditions corresponding to the communist aspiration of a society where access to the means of consumption was no longer tied to any labor contribution.

But in 2022 we are now 150 years, 15 decades, from the time Marx wrote his commentary. Being extremely conservative and assuming no more than a 5% annual increase in the technical productivity of social labor over this 150 years, living labor today is perhaps 1800 times more productive than it was when Marx wrote his commentary.

That means one worker today can easily do the labor of eighteen hundred workers in 1875! That should give you just a hint of the capacity of capital to increase the productive power of social labor.

In 1875 the gap between where society was and the communist horizon was a chasm that required decades at the minimum to cross. Marx knew he would never see it. He also knew his children and those with whom he corresponded and their children would likely never see it as well. It was to some extent understandable that there would be an equally vast gap between what communists set as their aim and what the average workers set as their aims. The chasm between aspiration and reality was so large that in practice communists could demand an end to all wage labor, while fighting alongside the mass of workers who only wanted good jobs at good wages.

But 150 years later can we say this horizon remains as distant and the chasm so vast as it was at the time when Marx wrote his commentary? When a worker today can produce literally two thousand times the output created by her great-great-grandfather in the same working day, is it possible to maintain the communist horizon remains as distant as it was when his contemporary, Marx, was writing his Critique?

Assuming it is not, then we have a problem.

The average worker today still thinks about wage labor much the same way their great-great-grandfather did 150 years ago: as something that is as natural and eternal as gravity. They are, therefore, shocked when the capitalists tell them their jobs are scheduled for elimination and their wages will be inflated away.

Communists, who continue to fight alongside these workers, also seem to be unaware that times have changed. They really don’t seem to recognize the incongruity of demanding capital stop trying to get rid of jobs when they themselves want to get rid of wage labor too.

So, it is rather weird that as capital has developed the productive power of social labor and, theoretically at least, moved society closer to the possibility of the complete abolition of necessary labor, the mass of workers defiantly cling to wage work and continue to resist any effort to allow their wages to fall to zero.

It is even more bizarre that communists, who arguably should be aware of the progress capital has made in the last 150 years and thus should know better, indicate in both their actions and their literature very little awareness of the possibility for the complete abolition of wage labor in the production of material wealth that has been made possible by this progress.

Communists today act with no more awareness of the real potentialities of our time than a worker who has never once picked up a piece of literature more theoretically sophisticated than a Sanders’ campaign handout.

In the RMT strike, there is nothing that can save these workers jobs and wages. Moreover, none of us should want to save these miserable jobs and wages. It is an insult to human dignity to ask anyone to live like we are expected to live.

Communists should grow the fuck up and join the 21st century with the rest of society. This ain’t your great-great-granddaddy’s capitalism. We do not need more of these meaningless battles that cannot be won.

Note: I’m mostly on Telegraph now.

Fuck the police…

According to media reports, cops tasered family members and rescued their own children during the Uvalde shooting, while parents demanded they deal with the killer.

Texas Department of Public safety Spokesman confirms police officers entered Robb Elementary School to get their own children during the massacre…

Will the Supreme Court majority be impeached for denying women the right to choose?

Last year I noted the Supreme Court seemed hell bent on the most spectacular suicide possible. The SCOTUS majority now appears poised on a chair with the noose around its own neck as it prepares the final draft of a decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Are Democraps prepared to kick away the chair in time to improve their midterm chances, by impeaching a tiny group of imbeciles who imagines they can turn American women into handmaidens — as seen on T.V.?

If the Democraps had any backbone — and they do not — the majority would be impeached immediately once this decision is finalized, the decision immediately overturned, and severe, comprehensive federal sanctions imposed on the Supreme Court majority and any state that tried to outlaw or criminalize abortion — sanctions at least as tough and exhaustive as those leveled against Putin and his gangsters.

Fat chance any of this happens. Let’s be serious, if politics decided anything these days, this blog post would not be written.

Ukraine dramatically reduces Russia gas flow to Europe

In a surprising turn in the present conflict, it appears Ukraine has shut off a pipeline carrying about one third of the gas flowing into Europe from Russia in an attempt to impose a blockade on a region that is now mostly under the control of Russian military forces.

According to Russia Today:

Ukraine suspended the flow of Russian natural gas to Europe on Wednesday, while blaming Moscow for the disruption. Russian gas had so far been flowing uninterrupted through pipelines across Ukraine despite the military activities.

In a statement late Tuesday, the Ukrainian gas transmission system operator said it had decided to suspend operations at a major transit point, Sokhranovka, because of “interference by the occupying forces.” The station handles up to 32.6 million cubic meters per day, or about a third of the Russian gas that flows via Ukraine to Europe, according to the operator.

Reuters reports a dramatic fall in gas flow as of this morning, May 11:

Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter on Wednesday after Kyiv halted use of a major transit route blaming interference by occupying Russian forces, the first time exports via Ukraine have been disrupted since the invasion.

Ukraine has remained a major transit route for Russian gas to Europe even after Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” in the country on Feb. 24.

The transit point Ukraine shut usually handles about 8% of Russian gas flows to Europe, although European states said they were still receiving supplies. The Ukraine corridor mostly sends gas to Austria, Italy, Slovakia and other east European states.

It is unclear at this point how the United States and its NATO vassals are going to respond to this interruption, which likely will cripple economic activity across Europe.

This interruption comes on top of disruptions caused by Russia government demands that all countries imposing sanctions on it must begin paying for its energy products in rubles.

Russia’s situation is probably hopeless at this point

Let me be clear about this.

It is not that Putin doesn’t have a few moves left.  You never have played all your cards when you have a shit-ton of nuclear warheads up your sleeve and hypersonic missiles to carry them to their targets. If nothing else, Putin can still make his opponents curse the day they were born.

Washington knows this and also knows its silly Continuity of Operations Plans aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

Short of an extinction level event, Russia’s rubles for gas counter-move to U.S. enforced sanctions is turning out to be a stroke of genius. His effort to close off the Ukraine’s east coast on the Black Sea should ease the irritating problem of NATO using that region as a staging ground for further provocations into Russian-occupied areas. And, expelling Ukraine forces from the independently governed Donbass region will go a long way to stanching the bleeding that has gone on there for far too long.

But all of this is likely for naught.

Continue reading “Russia’s situation is probably hopeless at this point”

“You’re welcome!” -Joe Biden

The Democratic Party has long believed that they can make problems disappear by just ignoring them. Now, in the run-up to the fall mid-term elections, they get to see if this sort of magical thinking will work in the case of an actual deadly pandemic that has already killed as many as 1.3 million Americans in two years.

Earlier this year, the top brass in the party decided they gain nothing by continuing to discuss a pandemic they don’t have any intention to fix. They want us back at work, so they jabbed us with a nearly useless and potentially harmful vaccine and told us to get back to our cubicles.

They need the slaves back at work, but they also need to look as if they fixed a problem caused by “Trump incompetence”. Their new playbook on Covid-19 could be titled “Stop Talking About Covid-19; we already fixed it”:

“Stop talking about restrictions and the unknown future ahead. If we focus on how bad things still are and how much worse they could get, we set Democrats up as failures unable to navigate us through this. When 99% of Americans can get vaccinated, we cause more harm than we prevent with voters by going into our third year talking about restrictions. And, if Democrats continue to hold a posture that prioritizes COVID precautions over learning how to live in a world where COVID exists, but does not dominate, they risk paying dearly for it in November.”

How’s that working out for you and your family? Or, more accurately, how are we still working for these assholes?