Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

20

Another New York lay mere blocks away: a city of crowded subway cars and diners and panhandlers and mounds of sidewalk garbage piled high. But the supertall’s residents, whoever they were, wherever they were, did not know that place. Their building contributed to the density of urban life but insulated them from that life’s complications. They were in the city but not of it.

This, I soon discovered, is precisely the living condition supertalls are designed to engineer: one that maximizes the privacy of the super-wealthy and whose highest priority is that privacy’s protection. “Modern culture is a garden culture,” Zygmunt Bauman wrote in Modernity and the Holocaust. “It constructs its own identity out of distrust of nature. In fact, it defines itself and nature, and the distinction between them, through its endemic distrust of spontaneity and its longing for a better, and necessarily artificial, order.” The garden culture was rampant here: literally, via the appendage of this public apron to the building’s entrance, but more powerfully, and figuratively, through the clearing of a moat to buffer the building’s inhabitants from the city’s inconveniences—to offer them a city free of weeds.

—p.20 The Needles and the Damage Done (20) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

Another New York lay mere blocks away: a city of crowded subway cars and diners and panhandlers and mounds of sidewalk garbage piled high. But the supertall’s residents, whoever they were, wherever they were, did not know that place. Their building contributed to the density of urban life but insulated them from that life’s complications. They were in the city but not of it.

This, I soon discovered, is precisely the living condition supertalls are designed to engineer: one that maximizes the privacy of the super-wealthy and whose highest priority is that privacy’s protection. “Modern culture is a garden culture,” Zygmunt Bauman wrote in Modernity and the Holocaust. “It constructs its own identity out of distrust of nature. In fact, it defines itself and nature, and the distinction between them, through its endemic distrust of spontaneity and its longing for a better, and necessarily artificial, order.” The garden culture was rampant here: literally, via the appendage of this public apron to the building’s entrance, but more powerfully, and figuratively, through the clearing of a moat to buffer the building’s inhabitants from the city’s inconveniences—to offer them a city free of weeds.

—p.20 The Needles and the Damage Done (20) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
23

Cities change, of course they do; but what matters is for whom they change, and at what cost. Demolition, displacement, accommodation, and compromise are the conditions of urban life. But the city of the supertalls is engineered to take its denizens beyond these conditions, to deliver them into frictionlessness. It’s a place of moonshot wealth, skinny buildings, no resistance, and no surprises; a city that’s not really a city at all, but its own comfortable superstate.

—p.23 The Needles and the Damage Done (20) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

Cities change, of course they do; but what matters is for whom they change, and at what cost. Demolition, displacement, accommodation, and compromise are the conditions of urban life. But the city of the supertalls is engineered to take its denizens beyond these conditions, to deliver them into frictionlessness. It’s a place of moonshot wealth, skinny buildings, no resistance, and no surprises; a city that’s not really a city at all, but its own comfortable superstate.

—p.23 The Needles and the Damage Done (20) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
57

And here’s where EFF showed its true colors. The group published a string of blog posts and communiqués that attacked Figueroa and her bill, painting her staff as ignorant and out of their depth. Leading the publicity charge was Wentworth, who, as it turned out, would jump ship the following year for a “strategic communications” position at Google. She called the proposed legislation “poorly conceived” and “anti-Gmail” (apparently already a self-evident epithet in EFF circles). She also trotted out an influential roster of EFF experts who argued that regulating Google wouldn’t remedy privacy issues online. What was really needed, these tech savants insisted, was a renewed initiative to strengthen and pass laws that restricted the government from spying on us. In other words, EFF had no problem with corporate surveillance: companies like Google were our friends and protectors. The government—that was the bad hombre here. Focus on it.

[...]

In the public sphere, meanwhile, EFF’s vision won out. Concerns about private surveillance were pushed out of the spotlight, crowded out by utopian proclamations about how companies like Google and Big Data would change the world for the better. Privacy would come to mean “privacy from government surveillance.” And corporations? Corporate intentions were assumed to be good—or, at worst, neutral. Corporations like Google didn’t spy; they “collected data”—they “personalized.”

about a bill that was meant to prevent gmail from showing targeted ads by requiring opt-in consent from all parties relevant to the email. this is mildly interesting, though perhaps a very slanted portrayal; what this makes me think is how limited privacy-centred measures are, from the outset. if you dismantle google's (anyone's) ability to show targeted ads, yes you may reduce ad click-through rates, but do you diminish power? you'll still get ads, just less targeted, possibly more obtrusive (making up for precision with volume). plus google already controls so much ad tech infrastructure. it's too late, now; the cat's out of the bag

—p.57 All EFF’d Up (44) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

And here’s where EFF showed its true colors. The group published a string of blog posts and communiqués that attacked Figueroa and her bill, painting her staff as ignorant and out of their depth. Leading the publicity charge was Wentworth, who, as it turned out, would jump ship the following year for a “strategic communications” position at Google. She called the proposed legislation “poorly conceived” and “anti-Gmail” (apparently already a self-evident epithet in EFF circles). She also trotted out an influential roster of EFF experts who argued that regulating Google wouldn’t remedy privacy issues online. What was really needed, these tech savants insisted, was a renewed initiative to strengthen and pass laws that restricted the government from spying on us. In other words, EFF had no problem with corporate surveillance: companies like Google were our friends and protectors. The government—that was the bad hombre here. Focus on it.

[...]

In the public sphere, meanwhile, EFF’s vision won out. Concerns about private surveillance were pushed out of the spotlight, crowded out by utopian proclamations about how companies like Google and Big Data would change the world for the better. Privacy would come to mean “privacy from government surveillance.” And corporations? Corporate intentions were assumed to be good—or, at worst, neutral. Corporations like Google didn’t spy; they “collected data”—they “personalized.”

about a bill that was meant to prevent gmail from showing targeted ads by requiring opt-in consent from all parties relevant to the email. this is mildly interesting, though perhaps a very slanted portrayal; what this makes me think is how limited privacy-centred measures are, from the outset. if you dismantle google's (anyone's) ability to show targeted ads, yes you may reduce ad click-through rates, but do you diminish power? you'll still get ads, just less targeted, possibly more obtrusive (making up for precision with volume). plus google already controls so much ad tech infrastructure. it's too late, now; the cat's out of the bag

—p.57 All EFF’d Up (44) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
61

SOPA and PIPA were backed by a broad coalition of business groups and interests, including the recording industry. They were was also backed by just about every major labor group—the Screen Actors Guild; Songwriters Guild of America; AFL-CIO; American Federation of Musicians; American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers’ International Union; Communication Workers of America; and Directors Guild of America, among others.

SOPA and PIPA were not perfect, but the defense of culture workers online had to start somewhere. There had to be a way of building an internet ecosystem that didn’t just enrich media monopolies and multimillionaire celebrities and cheat the creative working class out of their labor. There had to be a way of paying the people who created the bulk of our culture: musicians, photographers, filmmakers, authors. But as it turned out, these topics were taboo. They were not up for discussion. Because Silicon Valley, despite whatever lip service it pays to the idea of individual creativity and “thinking different,” wanted to do no such thing.

Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Mozilla, Reddit, PayPal, Twitter, and scores of smaller tech companies went into battle mode to oppose SOPA and PIPA. They framed the legislative dispute as a fight between freedom and totalitarianism and launched a frenzied public relations and lobbying campaign to kill the laws. The overheated rhetoric of the anti-SOPA tech moguls resembled nothing so much as the take-no-prisoners agitprop of the National Rifle Association—right down to the claim that, even if a regulatory curb on the criminal abuse of tech platforms were to pass, it would prove useless in execution and enforcement, just as Wayne LaPierre and Oliver North insist that curbs on untrammeled gun ownership would do precisely nothing to curb determined criminals from flouting such regulations.

admittedly idk that much about sopa/pipa other than what i heard from tech platforms et al who supported it, but even though im sympathetic with the author's criticism here, i still dont think either bill was a step in the right direction? maybe this is one of those things that minor legislative changes on the level of tech platforms can't solve...

—p.61 All EFF’d Up (44) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

SOPA and PIPA were backed by a broad coalition of business groups and interests, including the recording industry. They were was also backed by just about every major labor group—the Screen Actors Guild; Songwriters Guild of America; AFL-CIO; American Federation of Musicians; American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers’ International Union; Communication Workers of America; and Directors Guild of America, among others.

SOPA and PIPA were not perfect, but the defense of culture workers online had to start somewhere. There had to be a way of building an internet ecosystem that didn’t just enrich media monopolies and multimillionaire celebrities and cheat the creative working class out of their labor. There had to be a way of paying the people who created the bulk of our culture: musicians, photographers, filmmakers, authors. But as it turned out, these topics were taboo. They were not up for discussion. Because Silicon Valley, despite whatever lip service it pays to the idea of individual creativity and “thinking different,” wanted to do no such thing.

Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Mozilla, Reddit, PayPal, Twitter, and scores of smaller tech companies went into battle mode to oppose SOPA and PIPA. They framed the legislative dispute as a fight between freedom and totalitarianism and launched a frenzied public relations and lobbying campaign to kill the laws. The overheated rhetoric of the anti-SOPA tech moguls resembled nothing so much as the take-no-prisoners agitprop of the National Rifle Association—right down to the claim that, even if a regulatory curb on the criminal abuse of tech platforms were to pass, it would prove useless in execution and enforcement, just as Wayne LaPierre and Oliver North insist that curbs on untrammeled gun ownership would do precisely nothing to curb determined criminals from flouting such regulations.

admittedly idk that much about sopa/pipa other than what i heard from tech platforms et al who supported it, but even though im sympathetic with the author's criticism here, i still dont think either bill was a step in the right direction? maybe this is one of those things that minor legislative changes on the level of tech platforms can't solve...

—p.61 All EFF’d Up (44) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
64

The defeat of SOPA was naturally a time of great celebration for EFF. The group’s campaign was successful, effectively short-circuiting any possible discussions about using copyright and anti-piracy enforcement to make sure people aren’t getting exploited. From 2012 forward, the bid to license and preserve online copyright has been monstrously, and misleadingly, framed as struggle against totalitarianism, conflating Silicon Valley’s right to pirate content at will with liberty and freedom for the masses. As such, the SOPA battle was just one more successful application of EFF’s rhetorical public relations strategy: frame any attempt to regulate Silicon Valley power with totalitarianism, all while conflating the interests of regular internet dwellers with the plutocrats who own the internet.

this is smart (and obvs applicable beyond the EFF)

—p.64 All EFF’d Up (44) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

The defeat of SOPA was naturally a time of great celebration for EFF. The group’s campaign was successful, effectively short-circuiting any possible discussions about using copyright and anti-piracy enforcement to make sure people aren’t getting exploited. From 2012 forward, the bid to license and preserve online copyright has been monstrously, and misleadingly, framed as struggle against totalitarianism, conflating Silicon Valley’s right to pirate content at will with liberty and freedom for the masses. As such, the SOPA battle was just one more successful application of EFF’s rhetorical public relations strategy: frame any attempt to regulate Silicon Valley power with totalitarianism, all while conflating the interests of regular internet dwellers with the plutocrats who own the internet.

this is smart (and obvs applicable beyond the EFF)

—p.64 All EFF’d Up (44) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
70

Once a skater turns professional, there are two ways things can go. As with any other sport, there are a handful of marketable names undergirded by a workman majority. At its core, personal success in skateboarding comes by winning a popularity contest, by appealing to young consumers who buy skateboards, gear, and clothing. A professional might earn royalties for years (or even decades) without releasing, for example, any new footage. (If the sales are strong, a brand has no reason to drop a skater from its team.) For those who fail to make a name for themselves in this illusory world of merit, however, careers can be vanishingly short. Injury inevitably couples with age; footage gets harder to come by; sponsors disappear. As the checks dwindle, skaters are forced, as the saying goes, to find a real job. Some seek work as team managers or pursue other roles within the industry, but the transition isn’t always smooth. High-level skateboarding can be a full-time commitment during the years most young people are pursuing higher learning or entering the work force. For a thirty-two-year-old with no résumé beyond a stylish backside tailslide, landing a job—especially one that pays a decent wage—is a challenge.

It should go without saying: there is no social safety net in skateboarding. As freelancers, skateboarders rarely obtain health insurance through sponsors. It may be the case, as Ian Browning reports in Jenkem, that certain companies (like Red Bull) offer help with medical bills or pay for physical therapy, but riders for a company as large as Converse go without coverage entirely. That the world’s largest sneaker company (Converse is owned by Nike) would fail to insure its contracted athletes, who risk life and limb to appear in its ads—in a sport that almost necessarily causes injury—is morally repugnant. It’s also proof that these corporations understand their riders as replaceable commodities unworthy of investment. [...]

damn

—p.70 A Crime and a Pastime (66) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

Once a skater turns professional, there are two ways things can go. As with any other sport, there are a handful of marketable names undergirded by a workman majority. At its core, personal success in skateboarding comes by winning a popularity contest, by appealing to young consumers who buy skateboards, gear, and clothing. A professional might earn royalties for years (or even decades) without releasing, for example, any new footage. (If the sales are strong, a brand has no reason to drop a skater from its team.) For those who fail to make a name for themselves in this illusory world of merit, however, careers can be vanishingly short. Injury inevitably couples with age; footage gets harder to come by; sponsors disappear. As the checks dwindle, skaters are forced, as the saying goes, to find a real job. Some seek work as team managers or pursue other roles within the industry, but the transition isn’t always smooth. High-level skateboarding can be a full-time commitment during the years most young people are pursuing higher learning or entering the work force. For a thirty-two-year-old with no résumé beyond a stylish backside tailslide, landing a job—especially one that pays a decent wage—is a challenge.

It should go without saying: there is no social safety net in skateboarding. As freelancers, skateboarders rarely obtain health insurance through sponsors. It may be the case, as Ian Browning reports in Jenkem, that certain companies (like Red Bull) offer help with medical bills or pay for physical therapy, but riders for a company as large as Converse go without coverage entirely. That the world’s largest sneaker company (Converse is owned by Nike) would fail to insure its contracted athletes, who risk life and limb to appear in its ads—in a sport that almost necessarily causes injury—is morally repugnant. It’s also proof that these corporations understand their riders as replaceable commodities unworthy of investment. [...]

damn

—p.70 A Crime and a Pastime (66) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
77

Khiara Bridges—a law professor (also a professor of anthropology) at Boston University—takes the question of the constitutional rights of poor people one step further in her book The Poverty of Privacy Rights. Here, she makes the case that “wealth is a condition for privacy rights, and that, lacking wealth, poor mothers do not have any privacy rights.” Focusing in particular on the legal predicament of poor women, and especially poor mothers, she suggests that poor mothers lose their privacy altogether if they accept public assistance, because they do so on terms that open their lives—and especially their sexual and reproductive lives—to the aggressive monitoring of the state. But if they forgo government assistance they may be unable to provide their children with food and medical care, which in turn opens them up to privacy-invading investigations from Child Protective Services. Either way, “it is impossible for poor mothers to create a space free of state power.”

damn cool

—p.77 Privatizing Poverty (74) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

Khiara Bridges—a law professor (also a professor of anthropology) at Boston University—takes the question of the constitutional rights of poor people one step further in her book The Poverty of Privacy Rights. Here, she makes the case that “wealth is a condition for privacy rights, and that, lacking wealth, poor mothers do not have any privacy rights.” Focusing in particular on the legal predicament of poor women, and especially poor mothers, she suggests that poor mothers lose their privacy altogether if they accept public assistance, because they do so on terms that open their lives—and especially their sexual and reproductive lives—to the aggressive monitoring of the state. But if they forgo government assistance they may be unable to provide their children with food and medical care, which in turn opens them up to privacy-invading investigations from Child Protective Services. Either way, “it is impossible for poor mothers to create a space free of state power.”

damn cool

—p.77 Privatizing Poverty (74) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
83

ON HALLOWEEN IN 2008, about six weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, my mother called me from Michigan to tell me that my father had lost his job in the sales department of Visteon, an auto parts supplier for Ford. Two months later, my mother lost her own job working for the city of Troy, a suburb about half an hour from Detroit. From there our lives seemed to accelerate, the terrible events compounding fast enough to elude immediate understanding. By June, my parents, unable to find any work in the state where they spent their entire lives, moved to New York, where my sister and I were both in school. A month later, the mortgage on my childhood home went into default for lack of payment.

After several months of unemployment, my mother got a job in New York City fundraising for a children’s choir. In the summer of 2010, I completed school at New York University, where I received a B.A. and an M.A. in English literature, with more than $100,000 of debt, for which my father was a cosigner. By this time, my father was still unemployed and my mother had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She continued working, though her employer was clearly perturbed that she’d have to take off every Friday for chemotherapy. To compensate for the lost time, on Mondays she rode early buses into the city from the Bronx, where, after months of harrowing uncertainty, my parents had settled. She wanted to be in the office first thing.

In January 2011, Chase Bank took full possession of the house in Michigan. Our last ties were severed by an email my father received from the realtor, who had tried and failed to short sell the property, telling him “it’s safe to turn off the utilities.” In May, I got a freelance contract with a newspaper that within a year would hire me full-time—paying me, after taxes, roughly $900 every two weeks. In September 2011, my parents were approved for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and in October, due to a paperwork snafu, their car was repossessed in the middle of the night by creditors. Meanwhile, the payments for my debt—which had been borrowed from a variety of federal and private lenders, most prominently Citibank—totaled about $1,100 a month.

Now thirty years old, I have been incapacitated by debt for a decade. The delicate balancing act my family and I perform in order to make a payment each month has become the organizing principle of our lives. To this end, I am just one of about forty-four million borrowers in the United States who owe a total of roughly $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. This number is almost incomprehensibly high, and yet it continues to increase with no sign of stopping. Reform legislation that might help families in financial hardship has failed in Congress. A bill introduced in May 2017, the Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy Act, which would undo changes made to the bankruptcy code in the early 2000s, stalled in committee. Despite all evidence that student loan debt is a national crisis, the majority of the U.S. government—the only party with the power to resolve the problem—refuses to acknowledge its severity.

—p.83 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me (82) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

ON HALLOWEEN IN 2008, about six weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, my mother called me from Michigan to tell me that my father had lost his job in the sales department of Visteon, an auto parts supplier for Ford. Two months later, my mother lost her own job working for the city of Troy, a suburb about half an hour from Detroit. From there our lives seemed to accelerate, the terrible events compounding fast enough to elude immediate understanding. By June, my parents, unable to find any work in the state where they spent their entire lives, moved to New York, where my sister and I were both in school. A month later, the mortgage on my childhood home went into default for lack of payment.

After several months of unemployment, my mother got a job in New York City fundraising for a children’s choir. In the summer of 2010, I completed school at New York University, where I received a B.A. and an M.A. in English literature, with more than $100,000 of debt, for which my father was a cosigner. By this time, my father was still unemployed and my mother had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She continued working, though her employer was clearly perturbed that she’d have to take off every Friday for chemotherapy. To compensate for the lost time, on Mondays she rode early buses into the city from the Bronx, where, after months of harrowing uncertainty, my parents had settled. She wanted to be in the office first thing.

In January 2011, Chase Bank took full possession of the house in Michigan. Our last ties were severed by an email my father received from the realtor, who had tried and failed to short sell the property, telling him “it’s safe to turn off the utilities.” In May, I got a freelance contract with a newspaper that within a year would hire me full-time—paying me, after taxes, roughly $900 every two weeks. In September 2011, my parents were approved for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and in October, due to a paperwork snafu, their car was repossessed in the middle of the night by creditors. Meanwhile, the payments for my debt—which had been borrowed from a variety of federal and private lenders, most prominently Citibank—totaled about $1,100 a month.

Now thirty years old, I have been incapacitated by debt for a decade. The delicate balancing act my family and I perform in order to make a payment each month has become the organizing principle of our lives. To this end, I am just one of about forty-four million borrowers in the United States who owe a total of roughly $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. This number is almost incomprehensibly high, and yet it continues to increase with no sign of stopping. Reform legislation that might help families in financial hardship has failed in Congress. A bill introduced in May 2017, the Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy Act, which would undo changes made to the bankruptcy code in the early 2000s, stalled in committee. Despite all evidence that student loan debt is a national crisis, the majority of the U.S. government—the only party with the power to resolve the problem—refuses to acknowledge its severity.

—p.83 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me (82) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
84

[...] College, which cost roughly $50,000 a year, was the only time that money did not seem to matter. “We’ll find a way to pay for it,” my parents said repeatedly, and if we couldn’t pay for it immediately, there was always a bank somewhere willing to give us a loan. This was true even after my parents had both lost their jobs amidst a global financial meltdown. Like many well-meaning but misguided baby boomers, neither of my parents received an elite education but they nevertheless believed that an expensive school was not a materialistic waste of money; it was the key to a better life than the one they had. They continued to put faith in this falsehood even after a previously unimaginable financial loss, and so we continued spending money that we didn’t have—money that banks kept giving to us.

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last decade shifting the blame for my debt. Whose fault was it? My devoted parents, for encouraging me to attend a school they couldn’t afford? The banks, which should have never lent money to people who clearly couldn’t pay it back to begin with, continuously exploiting the hope of families like mine, and quick to exploit us further once that hope disappeared? Or was it my fault for not having the foresight to realize it was a mistake to spend roughly $200,000 on a school where, in order to get my degree, I kept a journal about reading Virginia Woolf? [...] The problem, I think, runs deeper than blame. The foundational myth of an entire generation of Americans was the false promise that education was priceless—that its value was above or beyond its cost. College was not a right or a privilege but an inevitability on the way to a meaningful adulthood. What an irony that the decisions I made about college when I was seventeen have derailed such a goal.

damn so good

new tag: debt? esp student debt? or people's stories of poverty?

—p.84 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me (82) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] College, which cost roughly $50,000 a year, was the only time that money did not seem to matter. “We’ll find a way to pay for it,” my parents said repeatedly, and if we couldn’t pay for it immediately, there was always a bank somewhere willing to give us a loan. This was true even after my parents had both lost their jobs amidst a global financial meltdown. Like many well-meaning but misguided baby boomers, neither of my parents received an elite education but they nevertheless believed that an expensive school was not a materialistic waste of money; it was the key to a better life than the one they had. They continued to put faith in this falsehood even after a previously unimaginable financial loss, and so we continued spending money that we didn’t have—money that banks kept giving to us.

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last decade shifting the blame for my debt. Whose fault was it? My devoted parents, for encouraging me to attend a school they couldn’t afford? The banks, which should have never lent money to people who clearly couldn’t pay it back to begin with, continuously exploiting the hope of families like mine, and quick to exploit us further once that hope disappeared? Or was it my fault for not having the foresight to realize it was a mistake to spend roughly $200,000 on a school where, in order to get my degree, I kept a journal about reading Virginia Woolf? [...] The problem, I think, runs deeper than blame. The foundational myth of an entire generation of Americans was the false promise that education was priceless—that its value was above or beyond its cost. College was not a right or a privilege but an inevitability on the way to a meaningful adulthood. What an irony that the decisions I made about college when I was seventeen have derailed such a goal.

damn so good

new tag: debt? esp student debt? or people's stories of poverty?

—p.84 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me (82) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago
85

After the dust settled on the collapse of the economy, on my family’s lives, we found ourselves in an impossible situation: we owed more each month than we could collectively pay. And so we wrote letters to Citibank’s mysterious P.O. Box address in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, begging for help, letters that I doubt ever met a human being. We grew to accept Citibank as a detestable Moloch that we feared and hated but were made to worship. The letters began to comprise a diary for my father in particular, a way to communicate a private anguish that he mostly bottled up, as if he was storing it for later. In one letter, addressed “Dear Citi,” he pleaded for a longer-term plan with lower monthly payments. He described how my mother’s mounting medical bills, as well as Chase Bank’s collection on our foreclosed home, had forced the family into bankruptcy, which provided no protection in the case of private student loans. We were not asking, in the end, for relief or forgiveness, but merely to pay them an amount we could still barely afford. “This is an appeal to Citi asking you to work with us on this loan,” he wrote to no one at all.

[...] My father described himself and my mother to Crowley as “the poster children for this entire financial event,” by which he meant Americans who seemed to have done everything right on paper, but in doing so contributed to their own downfall. By the time he wrote to Crowley, my father was working again, but it had taken him two years to find another job for much less money. After his run of financial calamity, he knew better than to believe anything good would last. “We are in our sixties and I figure when we get to our mid-seventies life will become difficult again,” he wrote.

[...] The current monthly payments to Citi were for more than $800 a month, and we were trying to talk them into letting us pay the loan over a longer period, at a rate of about $400 a month. These terms were reasonable enough, but the response to this request was like an automated message brought to life: “We are precluded from a regulatory perspective from being able to do what you are asking,” each of the representatives said. What made these exchanges more ridiculous was the fact that Citibank was in the process of retreating from the student loan market by selling off my debt to Discover Financial, who would give us the same response. We were nothing to these companies but a number in a database. And they fully controlled our fates.

heartbreaking. reminds me of syriza's predicament

—p.85 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me (82) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago

After the dust settled on the collapse of the economy, on my family’s lives, we found ourselves in an impossible situation: we owed more each month than we could collectively pay. And so we wrote letters to Citibank’s mysterious P.O. Box address in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, begging for help, letters that I doubt ever met a human being. We grew to accept Citibank as a detestable Moloch that we feared and hated but were made to worship. The letters began to comprise a diary for my father in particular, a way to communicate a private anguish that he mostly bottled up, as if he was storing it for later. In one letter, addressed “Dear Citi,” he pleaded for a longer-term plan with lower monthly payments. He described how my mother’s mounting medical bills, as well as Chase Bank’s collection on our foreclosed home, had forced the family into bankruptcy, which provided no protection in the case of private student loans. We were not asking, in the end, for relief or forgiveness, but merely to pay them an amount we could still barely afford. “This is an appeal to Citi asking you to work with us on this loan,” he wrote to no one at all.

[...] My father described himself and my mother to Crowley as “the poster children for this entire financial event,” by which he meant Americans who seemed to have done everything right on paper, but in doing so contributed to their own downfall. By the time he wrote to Crowley, my father was working again, but it had taken him two years to find another job for much less money. After his run of financial calamity, he knew better than to believe anything good would last. “We are in our sixties and I figure when we get to our mid-seventies life will become difficult again,” he wrote.

[...] The current monthly payments to Citi were for more than $800 a month, and we were trying to talk them into letting us pay the loan over a longer period, at a rate of about $400 a month. These terms were reasonable enough, but the response to this request was like an automated message brought to life: “We are precluded from a regulatory perspective from being able to do what you are asking,” each of the representatives said. What made these exchanges more ridiculous was the fact that Citibank was in the process of retreating from the student loan market by selling off my debt to Discover Financial, who would give us the same response. We were nothing to these companies but a number in a database. And they fully controlled our fates.

heartbreaking. reminds me of syriza's predicament

—p.85 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me (82) missing author 1 year, 3 months ago