thefoggiest.dev

Closing my PayPal account

Well, it looks like I’m doing a premature online spring-cleaning.

Not too long ago, I closed my Spotify account, and since Spotify was the only service I paid for using PayPal, yesterday I decided to close my PayPal account as well. If you want to know why not using PayPal is a good idea, please read this, or watch this:

Link to an invidious instance showing The Hated One's Delete PayPal video

I must say, this went pretty easy, but I suspect PayPal will never delete all my data.

By the way, I just stumbled upon a nice article by Wouter Groeneveld on why you shouldn’t use Spotify that I hadn’t seen earlier, Ana Rodrigues just deleted her Spotify account as well, as did Read. But anyway, back to PayPal.

To close my account, I logged into PayPal and clicked on the little wheel icon at the top right. Scrolling all the way down, there was a button called “close account”. A modal pop-up asked me to first request removal of my data. That made sense, so I clicked that.

I landed on another page, warning me that any unpaid bills would have to be paid first and also, they would still sit on some of my data because of legal reasons. That they linked to their privacy statement for explanation had me worried. Of course, the link brought me to the top of the privacy statement, not the paragraph they knew I was looking for.

My worries were warranted. According to chapter 7 of that document. PayPal will keep my data for 10 years after I close my account, and also:

at least for the period recommended for the purposes of disputes, investigations, audit and compliance practices, or to defend against legal claims. (PayPal privacy statement, translation mine)

In other words, they own my data at least until 2034 and possibly even longer. No time to waste, then. The sooner infinite time is started, the sooner it’s done, I suppose.

I selected a confirmation checkbox and clicked “Yes, continue” (twice). Then I had to re-authenticate and click another button to land on their login-page. Perfect.

PayPal emailed me confirming my request for deletion of my data, and in a separate email confirming my account closure. Today, so one day later, I received a third email, stating that they had started to remove some of my data. Infinity, it seems, has started.

So from now on, I might receive an email once every while, updating me on the status of my private data removal request. Or not. I really don’t know.


One month of personal blogging

Just four days ago, I published post #100. This is #101. With 12 posts, this month is on par with April 2009, and February is not over yet.

It is now one month ago, that I restarted my old personal blog. When I did, I wasn’t sure if I would just write a post or two and leave it at that, or that I would find enough to write about to go on. Apparently, I did. In fact, I have several posts lined up to be published.

In my first personal blogging period, between 2007 and 2013, I seem to always have immediately published whatever I wrote. The posts differ a lot in size and where I published a dozen posts in one month, many other months I published just one or even none. This month I seem to have created two types of posts: the long form serious stuff and really tiny ones for things that I find funny. Since I’ve chosen for a traditional one-column landing page, the last post always gets the most exposure, followed by the other five most recent posts. This means that, to give each longer post some exposure, I don’t want to post a new one too quickly.

That is why I try to publish at most a long form post in the first half of the week (usually Tuesday) and one in the second half, and the tiny form at the weekend. I don’t even know if this works because most visitors seem to stay on the landing page. That’s hardly surprising, since it always contains six posts and most do not link to older ones.

I don’t really need to know that, by the way. My writing has several self-serving purposes. One is that when I want to make some technical notes, this blog allows me to share what I found out. Writing also works as a way of meditation for me. I can quiet thoughts that I commit to paper, so I write during the day or sometimes in the middle of the night, when I’m supposed to be asleep, but can’t. Finally, it’s the creative process that’s important to me. That people read what I write, and even cite me, is a bonus, and a gratifying one.

PS: While I do have several posts scheduled to publish, I’m not sure that I can keep up this pace forever. There’s a chance posting will become less frequent.

PPS: I initially allowed commenting without approval, just like in 2007. However, after a few weeks of only getting spam, I have now learned that was less than brilliant. You can now still comment, but I need to approve your contribution before anyone gets to see it.

Thank you for reading this.


Closing my Spotify account

I just closed my Spotify account, and I can’t say it was a bumpless ride. Firstly, you can read all about what’s wrong with Spotify here, but in essence, to me, it boiled down to:

  1. Artists aren’t getting paid fairly.
  2. Spotify needs you to waive your moral rights. Yes, your moral rights. I say it again, your moral rights.

Where applicable and permitted under applicable law, you also agree to waive and not enforce any “moral rights” or equivalent rights, such as your right to be identified as the author of any User Content, including Feedback, and your right to object to derogatory treatment of such User Content.

(Terms and Conditions of Use)

When I grew up, streaming services didn’t exist yet, so I own a sizable CD collection. Of course, I ripped them all into FLAC files and use Jellyfin to play them using my amplifier via a Bluetooth connector, which is very convenient. Still, I feel there’s something to be said for media that you can hold in your hands. We have a very nice record player and a slowly growing collection of mostly jazz records. Taking those out of their cover to put them on the turntable feels a lot more like connecting to the music than clicking an icon on my phone. Blowing a bit of dust from the needle and getting good at putting it precisely between two songs is something I didn’t know I’d enjoy.

Since I was born last century, I still think privacy is a thing, so I use Firefox’s strict privacy settings wherever I go, I use the uBlock Origin plugin, and at home I use Pihole. To have Spotify even show me the page they set up for closing accounts, I needed to turn off all three of them. Just pausing Pihole and turning off uBlock didn’t cut it. And with reason. Firefox’s developer console showed many cross origin requests and content security warnings.

They couldn’t have given me a better demonstration why I needed to cancel my account.

They asked me if I was sure quite a few times, and each time my motivation to confirm increased.

When I created my Spotify account some two decades ago, ideal didn’t exist yet, so I used PayPal. Just now, when the confirmation email from Spotify came in, another mail from PayPal arrived. That felt good because I can now also close that account.


Indie publishing?

I wrote a book. It’s a bit of an odd book, in the sense that it’s two thirds fiction and one third non-fiction. The fiction is there to de-abstractise the non-fiction. It seemed like a fun idea when I wrote the book, but no publisher I’ve approached wanted to publish it. “The story is successful, but the alternation between the fiction and the non-fiction didn’t work out,” (translation mine) responded one. Most responded merely with a complaint about a lack of time to properly respond.

At the time, I briefly thought about just publishing the story without the non-fiction part, but decided not to. It won’t work, since both parts are intertwined too much. By now, it’s about one and a half years since I finished the manuscript and really feel like publishing it. Self-publishing seems like a lot of work, though.

And then I read Wouter Groeneveld’s blog about the amount of work his actual publisher had him put in after publishing his book. Finding an actual publisher might be the royal way, but reading that, it hardly seems worth it. Being asked to attend book promotions is one thing, not having your expenses reimbursed makes the difference with self-publishing really thin.

This makes me think next time I just should care even less and definitely self-publish: if it’s out there, it’s out there, and if someone happens to find it, great, but if not, also great, at least then I can fully focus on the creation part and completely trash the dreaded hustling part.

Maria Staal of the Dutch indie-publishing community writes in “Doe het lekker Zelf (Just do it yourself)” (FTK Publishing, 2021):

A paper book is often sent the same day and a POD (Printing-On-Demand) book printed the same day, so they both often arrive at the doormat two days later.

This seems a lot more sustainable than having a publisher print 2,500 books, a fifth of which end up being destroyed.

Moreover, traditional publishers will launch your book once and then be done with it. If it doesn’t sell, it’s over. As a self-publishing author, you’re in for the long run. Your book can initially do badly, and then pick up after a few years (or not).

I think I know where I’ll go.


To fill the void

I’m fed up.

Fed up and angry.

Really.

Not too long ago, the radical right won our national elections with a landslide. It was horrifying. So many people who are justly and understandably tired of neoliberalism, believing that radical right-wing politicians will care about them and repair their social security. The same right-wing politicians who have consistently expressed their contempt for our constitution and its chapter on human rights.

Dutch philosopher Hans Achterhuis wrote in 2010, when the financial housing crisis of 2008 was barely over and Barack Obama had just been elected President of the USA, how left-wing Keynesian economic policy had been shaping Europe since 1945 until late in the seventies. In that decade, Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman-inspired politicians such as Margaret Thatcher in the UK, Ronald Reagan in the USA en Ruud Lubbers in my country, promised greater prosperity by freeing the market from its Keynesian bounds.

Even in the nineties, when the left seemed to rule in the UK, Germany, France and my country, all they did was implement neoliberal policies. Selling state-owned infrastructure, turning health care into a capitalist market and dismantling social security, so Adam Smith’s invisible hand could improve productivity, lower costs and reduce bureaucracy. Europe’s electorate was shifting right, while the political left shifted right along. When they realised their mistake, they completely failed to come up with an alternative narrative and left an intellectual void that persists to this day. Achterhuis predicted that, when the traditional political right failed, the left could, for that reason, not automatically count on replacing them. Thirteen years later, he was proven right.

After forty years, the left is still failing to get its act together.

Where Ayn Rand provided the right with a narrative, a direction, a goal to work towards, the left has nothing.

Eco-socialism? Don’t make me laugh.

Newspapers on the left are crying that right voters call us “Oat milk mules who go on a yoga retreat in Bali, buy a house in a white neighbourhood with (a tax-free gift from my parents) and then blame others for racism and consumerism”. Journalists are telling left wing politicians they don’t see how this frame is hurting their cause.

After all, it’s right, isn’t it?

Every time I read another column or opinion piece, I’m told I’m a hypocrite because I’m a progressive leftist. I consistently vote left, I’m a member of a labour union, I’m a feminist, I’m worried sick about biodiversity, the climate, and the state of democracies the world over, there are solar panels on my roof and a heat pump warms our house. So I must, of course, be a white-privileged hypocrite whose house is worth a million, my wife probably still does every household chore and I have never spoken to anybody outside my white-privileged bubble.

Wrong.

Is it really too challenging to get into your petrol head brains that someone can really be progressive and advocate equality out of conviction? Is it really so unlikely that, noblesse oblige, someone can put solar panels on their roof out of conviction instead of a motivation from financial rewards without feeling superior about it?

Is framing left-wing voters and politicians as hypocrites the only way you can look at yourself in the mirror after voting for wanna-be fascists?

Do you really think that the right-wing politicians you vote for, actually care about you? That they won’t, as soon as they uselessly neutralised those who they blamed for your misery, come for you, eventually?

The lefts need a narrative. If only for the sake of the right.


Gen Z

Born in the seventies, as a member of the so-called generation X (Gen X), I am expected not to complain about things and quietly adapt to my surroundings. My surroundings are inhabited by generation Z (Gen Z). Gen Z is characterised by a tendency to complain about everything and their attempts to adapt their surroundings to them.

This is why, as a true member of Gen X, I have adapted myself to complain about everything and attempt to adapt my surroundings to me.