Thursday, January 31, 2019

Caution Blows

As it has been repeated the economy is doing great.  At least that is the impression. Odd then that the Reserve is holding back increasing interest rates to avoid an economic slowdown.  Meanwhile Amazon is oddly on the defense in New York for its HQ2 and despite all the blowback I doubt that they will abandon the project which also explains why they chose a secondary location and of course the third "Center for Operations Excellence" here in Nashville. They have already started a job hunting event scheduled at the Ryman where undoubtedly the rude and the awakening will occur for what now again is a vague starting date of 2020 or 2021.  This has Foxconn written all over it.  Same with Alliance Bernstein as they say many things but again the time frame is vague and of course numbers even more so.  Odd as they are a financial services firm so you think that would be their strong suit.  I did laugh as only 70 employees elected to relocate here.  Smart decision on the ones who chose not.  But they can't move to Des Moines it doesn't look good either.

Then we have locally the Nissan headquarters having a buyout of employees to cut workforce numbers of which they are vague on but maybe they need the cash for the legal expenses of their former CEO.  And they are doing so with a plant in Mississippi,  which I bet now they wish they had voted in a union that would have enabled them some recourse. They could go work for the wunderkid, Elon Musk at Tesla, but then again maybe not.  Then we have the shutdown of the Electrolux plant in Memphis which again is a sign of the times regarding trade wars and the like.   And the energy sector is taking a hit with PG&E filing the big B. Then we have the local newspaper laying off staff, the Lifeway organization doing the same and across the country more newspapers or  news sites also RIFFing staff. 

And there are speculations that the market is slowing and in turn a recession is on the horizon. Remember the Titanic saw an iceberg in the horizon too and then whoops!

Then lets add the slowdown to the real estate market which has led to some banks going back in time to 2008 lending decisions that included avoiding income verification.   The confusing messaging about buying versus renting continues to be debated as the reality is incomes are not rising commensurate with the actual costs to buy or rent homes regardless.  That said the market for homes could rebound if the fed follow through without raising rates but again this is an odd time when I hear idiots on TV spouting about buying million dollar properties as potential exotic Airbnb's and rehabbing them to become destinations that can earn the owner thousands a year.  Yes I also heard that from a Lyft driver so whatever.  Can people not do math anymore?  Oh wait I work in public schools and today I am in a "magnet" school and the Teacher is a Physics teacher coming from the private sector where he made a decent living and because he was tired of corporate politics went into education. I love these noble stories as they are full of bullshit as there are few professions less political then education so I know there is a back story there that I care little about.  He also believes that a high school graduate from a Nashville Public High School would be hired by Amazon at 60K a year so then when I told him about the hiring event he was shocked as he new NOTHING about Amazon's "Operation for Excellence" headquarters being located here.  Glad to know you are on top of things as this is the only thing they talk about here.   I am amazed at the level of ignorance and again this is a Teacher so it again explains all I need to know about that here.

Then we have had massive walk outs and strikes regarding Education and much of it has to do with wages but also largely funding or more importantly the lack thereof that has led to classrooms busting at their seams and buildings that are in need of upgrades, better curriculum and simple basic needs as Counselors and Nurses.   Yes this is America where our Education is the core to our Democracy and yet it may explain our failure on that as well.  This too explains why student loan debt is truly one of the biggest drains on our economy as it literally disables young people from buying homes, cars and establishing credit as they have this stranglehold on their neck that they have little incentive to engage and involve themselves with social issues such as voting and being informed as a citizen.

Add to this the global slowdown in China and Brexit which will lead to further European economic issues also added to the surge of right wing crazies across the globe.  Maybe Howard Shultz could throw his hat in the ring in Argentina?

Perhaps my suspicion and doubt about the economy come from living in Nashville where their histrionics are to levels I have never seen before given what I see and hear on a daily basis in the schools I feel it just doesn't add up.   Then there is the daily news and adventures of our President, from this threats to his ignorance, it wonders if he has a clue, even one to face some sort of facts or truths.  Then the shutdown, followed by horrific bone chilling weather which also contributes to further malaise I keep thinking I live in a parallel universe.  Again when sitting with a Teacher who should be aware of employers and those jobs and skills commensurate with what he teaches clearly unaware of this I cannot help but think I may be utterly wrong but again it is hard to know truth in a place where truth is a cobweb swept under a rug.  The south is living up to its stereotype every day and anyone educated, remotely sophisticated would have to feel the same.  All three of us.

And while I am excited about all the diverse and interesting candidates throwing their hats into the Presidential circus ring I still worry about the GWAM - great white American male.  This cohort of odd center right rich fucks seem to generate more attention than deserved and part of me thinks that when I hear the endless focus on being binary, having white privilege and failing to endlessly face the truth about racism I wonder who these people are talking to?  Each other?  Most likely as that blowback to all this bullshit you read from again, largely white males who for some reason seem to need to apologize and prove they are worthy is what I suspect is behind many normal healthy men to go off the deep end and embrace MAGA as some inherent need to tell these idiots to STFU.

I know I have nothing to apologize for and I also know that I can do nothing.  Perhaps that is why I no longer get involved or engaged. One watching of The View is enough to remind me that regardless of where one sits on the political fence no one fucking actually cares and if that is your only conversation you are one boring fuck.

Speaking of fucks,  will these men go away mad or just go away... let's hope cause if they don't any caution to the idea that Democrats are leaning left and liberal instead of centric and "progressive" (code word for libertarian) then we are all fucked without even dinner.

Is There Room in 2020 for a Centrist Democrat? Maybe One or Two

By Alexander Burns
The New York Times
Jan. 30, 2019

Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks chief executive contemplating an independent run for president, stated it as a plain matter of fact: For someone with his views — a distinctly white-collar blend of conservative fiscal instincts and liberal social values — there is no suitable political party.

That would come as news to the eight or nine Democrats who may seek their party’s presidential nomination on versions of that very platform.

They call themselves moderates and problem-solvers, consensus-builders and pragmatists. Monochrome and male, they do not embody social change and few hold out the promise of making history. Among them are former mayors, like Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans; current and former governors, including John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Terry McAuliffe of Virginia; Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado; and a smattering of House members. Atop the pack is a former vice president: Joseph R. Biden Jr.

If they run, these Democrats would test whether there is a large audience of primary voters open to promises of incremental change and political compromise, or whether the ascendant liberal wing is now fully dominant, defining the party’s agenda around transformational goals like enacting single-payer health care and breaking up big banks.

In most cases, these Democrats are framing their moderate instincts in terms of political process — stressing their willingness to cooperate with Republicans — or fiscal and economic concerns, including sensitivity to private business and government debt. They largely agree with more liberal Democrats on issues like guns, abortion and gay rights, which once divided the party.

Mr. Bloomberg offered an uncommonly tart rendition of this cohort’s worldview in New Hampshire on Tuesday, warning that a “Medicare for all” health care policy would “bankrupt” the country. He also dismissed a proposal by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, to impose an annual wealth tax on enormous personal fortunes, as “probably unconstitutional.” Ms. Warren engaged the fight, branding Mr. Bloomberg on Twitter as a billionaire who wants to “keep a rigged system in place.”

If Mr. Bloomberg’s views grate on many Democrats, allies see it as a distinctive trait in a diffuse primary. Howard Wolfson, an adviser to the former mayor, said the current Democratic field seemed to invite a competitor closer to the center.

“We believe that there is a clear and sufficiently wide lane for a pragmatic candidate, and that the progressive lane is really crowded,” Mr. Wolfson said. “The pragmatic lane is relatively free.”

Polls suggest that somewhere between a third and half of Democratic voters see themselves as moderates, though the label is vague enough to cast doubt on the group’s cohesion.

That bloc, these candidates and their advisers acknowledge, could lose influence if a herd of self-styled pragmatists end up stampeding into the Democratic contest, atomizing the center even as progressive competitors carve up the left. It is also highly uncertain that Democrats, who celebrated the election of many women and candidates of color in 2018, would turn quickly in 2020 to nominating a white man with narrower governing ambitions.

In the early primary states, much of the action so far has focused on proudly liberal, potentially history-making candidates, including Ms. Warren and Senators Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

But former Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire, a centrist Democrat, said he saw a clear opening for a candidacy pitched at the middle, one that is attentive to matters like climate change but also sensitive to deficits and debt. Mr. Lynch named Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg as the two most compelling possibilities.

“I’d like to see somebody come in and make the case for electing a more moderate candidate,” Mr. Lynch said, “and I believe that if the Democrats want to beat President Trump, their best bet is electing somebody in the middle.”

Mr. Lynch cautioned that the chances for an avowed moderate would fade if too many people compete for the label: “If there are a couple of moderates, then they are going to take share away from each other.”

The road to the Democratic nomination would likely be fraught for any moderate, especially one who would not break a historic barrier by virtue of identity, as Barack Obama did in 2008. To some Democrats, a more centrist message might too closely echo Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 campaign, which left many in the party determined to focus on mobilizing the left over pursuing the middle. And the most vocal Democratic factions have shown little interest so far in settling for something other than a liberal champion, on issues from taxation and business regulation to criminal justice and gender equality.

Ms. Warren has emerged as something of an intellectual pacesetter for liberal Democrats on economic issues, including her proposal to tax the wealth of households with assets greater than $50 million at a rate of two or three percent per year. And on Monday Ms. Harris, whose signature proposal has been a more conventional middle-class tax cut, called in a CNN interview for the elimination of private health insurance as part of a shift toward a “Medicare for all” single-payer health care.

Several other liberals of differing stripes are likely to join the race soon, including Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Cory Booker of New Jersey; others are considering it seriously, like Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

Polls of Democratic voters offer mixed signals about how liberal they want their nominee to be. There is no question the party has moved leftward: the Gallup Poll found this month that for the first time in decades, a majority of Democrats describe themselves as liberal, while just 34 percent now call themselves moderate. And taxing the rich is broadly popular, with a sizable majority of Americans believing wealthy people and corporations pay too little to the government.

“People have grown more liberal and more willing to call themselves liberal,” said Lydia Saad, a senior editor at Gallup, cautioning that ideology did not necessarily predict voting behavior: “The public is very fungible in terms of who they will accept as a leader, based on things that seem to go beyond ideology.”

Arkadi Gerney, a Democratic strategist who runs the Hub Project, a liberal advocacy group that has focused heavily on taxes, said that intensive issue polling had consistently found powerful support for raising taxes on the wealthy, not just among Democrats but also among working-class white voters in Mr. Trump’s base.

“The thing that was consistently the most popular in those experiments was: raise taxes on the rich,” Mr. Gerney said. “It is tapping into anger that a lot of people have.”

Yet there are also signs of hesitation among some Democrats about shifting left. A January study by the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of Democrats want the party to become more moderate, compared with 40 percent who want it to grow more liberal. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that while single-payer health care is hugely popular among Democrats, half of the party’s voters want House Democrats to prioritize improving the Affordable Care Act over passing Medicare for All legislation.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg, both 76, have defended their relatively centrist approach in recent weeks, calling it the best way to win and govern. Mr. Biden described working with Republicans as a first principle at a Washington event last week; without that spirit, he said, “I don’t know how you get anything done.” And Mr. Bloomberg swatted at the left more bluntly in New Hampshire.

Either man could seek to monopolize the party’s moderate constituencies: Mr. Biden through his stature as a two-term vice president, Mr. Bloomberg by spending his multibillion-dollar fortune. Both have already faced criticism for having supported aggressive policing and crime policies; Mr. Biden has expressed some regret for his record, while Mr. Bloomberg has defended his.

If Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg do not run, there could be no well-known candidate positioned near the center. That could create space for a lower-profile moderate to emerge, or perhaps vindicate Mr. Schultz’s assessment that there is scant popular demand in the Democratic Party for a 1990s-style economic program of spending restraint and deference toward the private sector.

Two wild-card Democrats who could run toward the middle, strategists say, are Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas Senate candidate. Both are widely liked by liberals but have shown a preference for conciliation and compromise. It is unclear how they would present themselves, ideologically, if they run.

Matt Bennett, vice president of the centrist Democratic group Third Way, said that for any moderate to catch fire in 2020, it would require more than offering toned-down versions of liberal candidates’ policies and “eat your peas” lectures about government debt.

“They’re going to have to be aspirational, optimistic, future-oriented,” Mr. Bennett said. “Like Bill Clinton, like Barack Obama.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Con in Foxconn

Much was made by the moron Governor of Wisconsin (at the time) Scott Walker and his twin dumber, Donald Trump, of the investment by Foxconn to build a manufacturing plant and hire thousands of workers!  Right. Play Tennis anyone?  Game. Set. Match

The tax incentives were the HUGEST in history and much maligned as the most EXPENSIVE to taxpayers in history.   Now the hysteria over Amazon showed what lengths many communities would go to to have Amazon build HQ2 in their region.  Some where made public and some like those in  Tennessee were not.  We have no idea what the State offered to Bezos, maybe a blow job by the former Slattern Mayor as a perk but at this point we know only of the City promises which have been also under fire for their largess while the city struggles with a budget crunch. But this is not about people as this is about corporations and they are people too!

So now it appears that the big wet dreams of the future will not be happening. Not that this is new but it is newsworthy. Foxconn has a long history of the long con then add the current climate of trade wars, arrests and accusations about industrial espionage and the like by one of China's largest companies only add fuel to this fire of burning hell or of the climate, same diff.  Today the moron Trump opined that the negative degrees in Wisconsin made him wonder what happened to Global Warming.  YIKES!

Well Wisconsin double burn with no Packers in the Super Bowl and the weather this is more cold comfort.    Nashville its cold outside baby and well Amazon is a long way from letting you score.  Briley can always offer a hand job.  Those Welfare Queens are such demanding lying bitches.

This must be all the winning Trump keeps talking about as clearly his definition of winning is not like mine but then again nothing he says makes any sense.  Well so this is not a Grand Slam. 

Exclusive: Foxconn reconsidering plans to make LCD panels at Wisconsin plant
Jess Macy Yu, Karl Plume

(Reuters) - Foxconn Technology Group is reconsidering plans to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at a $10 billion Wisconsin campus, and said it intends to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised.
FILE PHOTO: A shovel and FoxConn logo are seen before the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump as he participates in the Foxconn Technology Group groundbreaking ceremony for its LCD manufacturing campus, in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

Announced at a White House ceremony in 2017, the 20-million square foot campus marked the largest greenfield investment by a foreign-based company in U.S. history and was praised by President Donald Trump as proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing.

Foxconn, which received controversial state and local incentives for the project, initially planned to manufacture advanced large screen displays for TVs and other consumer and professional products at the facility, which is under construction. It later said it would build smaller LCD screens instead.

Now, those plans may be scaled back or even shelved, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters. He said the company was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high.

“In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.,” he said in an interview. “We can’t compete.”

When it comes to manufacturing advanced screens for TVs, he added: “If a certain size of display has more supply, whether from China or Japan or Taiwan, we have to change, too.”

Rather than a focus on LCD manufacturing, Foxconn wants to create a “technology hub” in Wisconsin that would largely consist of research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations, Woo said. It would also produce specialized tech products for industrial, healthcare, and professional applications, he added.

“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment,” Woo said.

Earlier this month, Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple Inc., reiterated its intention to create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, but said it had slowed its pace of hiring. The company initially said it expected to employ about 5,200 people by the end of 2020; a company source said that figure now looks likely to be closer to 1,000 workers.

It is unclear when the full 13,000 workers will be hired.

But Woo, in the interview, said about three-quarters of Foxconn’s eventual jobs will be in R&D and design - what he described as “knowledge” positions - rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs. Foxconn is formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

Rather than manufacturing LCD panels in the United States, Woo said it would be more profitable to make them in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished product to the United States.

He said that would represent a supply chain that fits with Foxconn’s current “fluid, good business model.”

Heavily criticized in some quarters, the Foxconn project was championed by former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who helped secure around $4 billion in tax breaks and other incentives before leaving office. Critics of the deal, including a number of Democrats, called it a corporate giveaway that would never result in the promised manufacturing jobs and posed serious environmental risks.

The company’s own growth projections and employment goals suggest the taxpayer investment would take at least 25 years to recoup, according to budget think tank the Wisconsin Budget Project.

Foxconn CEO Gou plans to meet with Wisconsin’s new Democratic governor, Tony Evers, a past critic of the deal, later this year to discuss modifications of the agreement, according to the source familiar with the company’s thinking.
U.S., China face major differences ahead of trade talks

Evers could not be reached for comment.

Currently, to qualify for the tax credits Foxconn must meet certain hiring and capital investment goals. It fell short of the employment goal in 2018 - hiring 178 full-time jobs rather than the 260 targeted - failing to earn a tax credit of up to $9.5 million.

The company may be prepared to walk away from future incentives if it is unable to meet Wisconsin’s job creation and capital investment requirements, according to the source familiar with the matter.

American Idiot

I have said repeatedly that the people from here or live here are nutfucks of high order. The hypocrisy of the below writer rings more bells than a Church on Sunday.

He works for a Nashville non profit and is a songwriter but lives in a very blue state and very blue city, Seattle.   Really, why is that?

So to go around and purposely agitate and inflame people in the area he wears his MAGA hat.  Clearly he has already experienced the Seattle Freeze and in some type of classical Southern passive aggressive manner, also a trait well shared by Seattle residents, trust me I know but they are amateur compared to Southerners is doing his best to stir the shit.  If this asshole lived here he would never wear it and would go out of his way to avoid confrontation and conflict, that is the Nashville Way.  The Nashville Way is some bullshit about being "nice" no it means being fake as shit and bless their hearts deny knowledge of anything that may even be remotely controversial. 

A sample exchange: "Hey this hysteria of Amazon coming to Seattle is such bullshit as they have up to seven years to staff this supposed site with wages so out proportion to the state average that it is making things worse here."  Response:  "I don't know anything about that."   That comment is repeated regardless of the subject and that includes often benign subjects as in that case it would actually require an opinion and opinion comes from critical analysis and thought.  Hence that is why few read or follow news here, it hurts their head.

Why I proudly wear my Make America Great Again hat | Opinion

Hi I am a moron and proud of it

Ryan Moore, Guest Columnist Published  Jan. 30, 2019 | The Tennessean

Ryan Moore is a writer, social media strategist and songwriter.

I was formerly a liberal my whole life, but my views changed over time and now I’m a Republican and ardent supporter of President Trump.

I have been wearing a Make America Great Again aka MAGA hat almost everywhere I go for approximately the last year.

In person I have received only positive feedback other than a few dirty looks and under-the-breath mutters.

Social media is a whole different story. Somehow, on social media, people feel emboldened to say things they would never have the courage to say to my face and many people hide behind fake/anonymous names and photos.

I receive death threats and racist comments

On Instagram I have a little blue check mark by my name so my comments usually seem to get more attention.

Many people have wished me dead, made threats and often call me racist simply because I support the wall and the President of the United States.

My great-grandparents legally immigrated to America as children. I am completely in favor of legal immigration but I am totally against illegal immigration (it’s illegal you know).

The color of a person’s skin has absolutely nothing to do with immigration or the wall.

It is the Democrats who are obsessed with “people of color” and gender. Republicans look at people for who they are not for their gender or skin color.

Never have I made a hateful or racist comment toward anyone, but, almost daily, I get hateful and racist comments directed at me on Instagram and Twitter.

People say, "You white,” coupled with a variety of hateful expletives or personal insults.

It’s okay for them to disagree with my political views, but it’s not okay for them to despise and attack me for the color of my skin. I believe in being respectful to everyone whether I agree or disagree with their politics and opinions.

And skin color and gender have nothing to do with my political opinions, yet nearly every day someone replies to one of my comments: “Oh, of course that comment was made by a white man."
MAGA hats are the symbol of putting America first

White men are the most hated and discriminated against group of people in the United States now. If you don’t believe that, you simply aren’t paying attention or looking at it objectively.

I’m very proud to wear my MAGA hat. All of the official MAGA hats are made in the USA. The hat is a symbol of wanting to put America first and wanting products to be made in America and wanting them to be made by Americans.

Buy American, hire American. It’s about putting the interests of the United States and all its people ahead of the interests of other nations.

How absurd would it be to put the interests of other nations ahead of our own? The phrase "Make America Great Again" and the MAGA hat have absolutely nothing to do with race or gender.

The “Again” does not mean anyone wants to go back to a time before all races and both sexes had full equality. It is simply the fact that there are some things in America’s past that are better than they are now and of course there are other things that are better in present day America.

I truly would like everyone to be civil and respectful to one another, but I must admit in one way I get a kick out of the hate I get from liberals by wearing my MAGA hat – it shows either they misunderstand or they’re just closed-minded, hateful and intolerant.

Ryan Moore is a writer, social media strategist and songwriter. He resides in Washington state but works remotely for a nonprofit based in Tennessee near Nashville. Find him on Twitter at @RyanMoore.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Keep on Keeping On

I tried to figure out what that meant and decided it means just staying alive and not in the fun John Travolta white suit wearing day more David Byrne way as life just stopped making sense quite awhile ago.

The weather outside is frightful but the world inside is delightful so let is snow let is snow... right? No.  Global warming is giving us shade and not the kind dished up on a housewife franchise. There is only so much Bravo a woman can watch when trapped in the house.  Thankfully the snow missed Nashville and I can go up and out and get back to work to at least make some pocket change (that is literally the fact here) and get up and off the couch.

Yesterday I went to a nearby elementary school for the morning.  I was in one classroom with a very capable Teacher who seemed to manage her kids and in turn had lessons that seemed to be working.  Across the hall I was with a Sub who seemed to have her brain cell on as in literally her single brain cell functioning as she was clueless as what to do. These are the schools here that had NOT ONE single furloughed federal worker apply for Sub gigs and that most of the subs are unqualified individuals who cannot find a better paying job despite Nashville's endless claim that this is the mostest bestest city (or region) for unemployment, below national numbers and that people are moving here every minute of every day and still they cannot find enough employees.  All of this while claiming that amazing individuals are relocating her from major urban cities and states.  Sure. What.ever.  Once again the Tennessean investigates and reports on this and is sure that it is affecting the politics of the state. Really?  We just elected a Plumber as Governor and have a super majority of right wing crackpots who seem to think vouchers are the most important issue facing the new state legislature.  This is the third or fourth time that this issue has been put up and this time I suspect will pass further disintegrating the public schools.   The motto here should be: Jesus Rules Schools Are For Fools given the attitude about paying and funding education here despite all the bullshit rhetoric about it.  Again bullshit is not just a crop fertilizer in the South.

What I saw yesterday were fourth graders who had no clue how to simply edit a sentence, from capital letters to punctuation.  Few knew how to write a full sentence and the spelling was something that should set alarms, as here in Nashville they go onto middle school next year clearly well behind grade level.  Yes middle school starts at grade five and that marks the descent into madness as they too are way too large and too scattered to manage the needs of that a diverse cohort.  Children here are the lowest on the priority scale even below education as they do love their colleges and universities here as they are located every other block like churches with often the same focus if you catch my drift, no not the snow kind.

And to use the idea that there are dialects and manners of speech that distinguish a culture and contribute to their own history is all well and good but this issue is one that again divides and conquers in isolating, marginalizing and imprisoning them.   This article confirms something that I have long debated from the issue of "Ebonics" in Oakland schools decades ago but again clearly does matter when in mainstream society.

Speaking Black Dialect in Courtrooms Can Have Striking Consequences

By John Eligon
The New York Times
Jan. 25, 2019

“He don’t be in that neighborhood.”

When one court reporter in Philadelphia transcribed that phrase, it turned into this: “We going to be in this neighborhood.” In other words, the opposite of what the phrase actually meant — that someone is not usually in a neighborhood.

That was just one transcription error captured in a soon-to-be published study that found court reporters in Philadelphia regularly made errors in transcribing sentences that were spoken in a dialect that linguists term African-American English.

Researchers played audio recordings of a series of sentences spoken in African-American English and asked 27 stenographers who work in courthouses in Philadelphia to transcribe them. On average, the reporters made errors in two out of every five sentences, according to the study.

The findings could have far-reaching consequences, as errors or misinterpretations in courtroom transcripts can influence the official court record in ways that are harmful to defendants, researchers and lawyers said.

“The larger implication is that people are not being afforded a sense of fairness and justice because the system is not responding to their language,” said Anthony L. Ricco, a New York-based criminal defense lawyer, when told of the study’s findings.

Decades of research has shown that the way some black people talk could play a role in their ability to secure things like employment or housing. The new study, scheduled for publication in June in the linguistic journal Language, provides insight on how using black dialect could also impact African-Americans in courtrooms.

“People who speak African-American English are stigmatized for so doing,” said Taylor Jones, a doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study’s authors.

Mr. Jones added that there was nothing improper or broken about the dialect that some African-Americans inherited over generations, but negative stereotypes have influenced the way people hear or perceive it.

“If you’re taught that these people speak incorrectly, then it’s very easy to say, ‘Well, they don’t make any sense; what they’re saying is wrong,’” Mr. Jones said.

The researchers found that the court reporters were not transcribing with any malicious intent. But some of them did have a very limited understanding of black dialect.

After going through the exercise, the researchers said that one of the court reporters told them that when they hear African-American English in the courtroom, “I have to be like, ‘Ok, don’t roll your eyes,’” according to a draft copy of the study.

Beyond negative stereotypes or lack of familiarity, a court reporter’s own discomfort with some of the terminology used in black dialect could also lead to incorrect transcriptions, the study found.

While Pennsylvania court reporters must score 95 percent accurate on tests in order to be certified, the reporters in this study were fully accurate, on average, on just 59.5 percent of the sentences.

Black court reporters who participated in the study made errors in transcribing at roughly the same rate as their white peers.

All of the reporters, in addition to transcribing, were asked to paraphrase what was being said in each sentence. Here, the results were even worse than the transcriptions, with reporters correctly paraphrasing the sentences about 33 percent of the time.

The authors faulted the training that court reporters received, saying that it mostly used “classroom” English. African-Americans are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, and so training should take that into consideration, researchers said.

“The training isn’t taking into account what they’re actually going to hear,” said Jessica Rose Kalbfeld, a co-author who is pursuing her Ph.D. at New York University.

The transcription errors also speak to an impact of segregation, Mr. Jones said. When black and white people live in separate parts of a city, they develop their own ways of speaking that people outside of their cultural communities are not exposed to.

“Because of segregation, black Philadelphians and white Philadelphians pronounce the same words differently,” he said. “This is common across the United States.”

Riley H. Ross III, a lawyer in Philadelphia, said that it was not just black dialect that was often misunderstood in a courtroom. It happens with other races, too, he said, and it was up to him as a lawyer to intervene in real time.

“Over all, if there’s something that’s said that the jury won’t understand, I’ll bring it up,” he said.

While this study was based on recordings made outside of a formal court setting, transcription errors have seeped into real cases.

In a 2015 transcript of a recorded phone call from a jail in the San Francisco Bay Area, a suspect who said, “He come tell ’bout I’m gonna take the TV” was incorrectly transcribed as “I’m gonna take the TV,” according to a 2016 research paper by a pair of Stanford University linguists.

In one recent case out of Louisiana, the transcription seemed to be correct, but it highlighted how African-American English can be subject to over-the-top scrutiny.

A lawyer for a defendant who had admitted to sexual assault sought to have that admission suppressed because his client had initially asked for a lawyer, saying, “I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog ’cause this is not what’s up.”

The state’s Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the police did not have to cease questioning him because “lawyer dog” was ambiguous and did not necessarily mean that he was invoking his right to counsel.

Mr. Ricco, the defense lawyer, said the most troubling thing about court reporters incorrectly transcribing African-American English was that it was indicative of larger difficulties of black witnesses trying to get their points across.

“If the court reporters are missing the story,” he said, “the jurors are missing the story."

Today I go to the house of privilege where the students are largely white highly competitive and focused or in in other words what I used to know as a normal high school in Seattle.  There were many not just two as there are here and Seattle serves a way smaller student population.  Yes we had many horrific schools but they were at least at times a focus of attention and in turn allocated some resources to attempt to rectify the issues that faced those schools issues; however, I can say now from living here I realize how poverty and racism and neglect are a perfect trifecta and that nowhere near the kind of services were provided there as here.  Not a pretty picture.

Then I came home to hear about a school that I went to about four times that three times too many as I never felt safe there and shocking, I know! Not really as yesterday they had a bomb scare and this was not the first nor the last over the last few years.  Then of course more stories about violence and sexual assault which seems to be happening now on a daily basis. The children here unlike Seattle children do not have any boundaries of a personal sense be that in any respective way - sexual, personal, physical.  I watch children storm in rooms go through Teachers desks, stand very close and seem to want to touch you.  They have incessant need to demonstrate and verbalize sexual behavior. They have no self control, behavior management or concept of how to speak to adults or authority figures and in turn the vulgarity and language used is both abusive and hostile in which they clearly are unaware.   This may contribute to why there is so much teen aggression and violence here as it carries out from the classroom to the  streets.    

And for the record many of the adults are not any better from rapeto sexual harassment, to theft there is a story a day about some Teacher or Administrator who seem intent on being the tree from which the apple fell.  There is an innate sense of entitlement that accompanies the Southern mentality that enables them to excuse or explain their behavior which I take as tied to the Church, in the same manner it did for Catholic Priests.    They keep on keeping on there as the Bible seems to be both a tool in which to enable much of this. 

Read Scoop Nashville on Facebook to truly understand how this behavior is viewed in the community and in turn read the most abusive and harsh posts, largely from people of color towards people of color.  I used to get distressed and now I shrug.  That is the point the idea is to disconnect and have lower expectations about those in poverty and that is what I call submissive co-dependency and racism.  You may not hate and act negatively towards those of color but you go out of your way to not engage or attempt to understand or at least empathize.

But here in Nashville you would think this is the greatest city that ever lived.  The endless bragging, the endless bullshit and misinformation that simply buries the truth is perhaps its real legacy, one that explains country music in a nutshell.   Just keeps on keeping on.  And as I count down like the NYE clock or in this case the music note, I will be leaving and it cannot come soon enough. That is a great resolution to keep and keep on. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

I'm Sorry

Two words you will never hear from any medical professional. Never. Why as that is an admission of guilt.

If there is one thing anyone should and can do is file with or without an Attorney.  This stops the bill collectors and in turn puts the issue of payments into negotiation.  Most states have stringent laws regarding filing medical malpractice and that is due to the intense lobbying by the AMA and the Hospital chains to make it so.  So it is worth consulting with an Attorney who will reject your claim but give you enough explanation as to why he/she will not take the case.  That said the statue of limitations is short but not short enough for you to pull former lawsuits against the facility or Physician.  And yes you can find Doctor's history as here in Tennessee a quack who nearly killed people here has moved across state lines and is practicing in Indiana. 

Then once you have actual documents in hand you can hire a paralegal to help you draft at least an initial filing.  This is called "In Pro Per" and legal clinics can assist or consult with you if you wish for a small fee unless you qualify for assistance.  I did it when I sued Harborview Medical Center. I lost but the reason was technical not based on my legal research and arguments.  In fact the Judge informed me that I had a good grasp of the legal relevant cases to cite in my arguments. I cannot lie that the time it took was immense but I thought of it as the 25K that the hospital was billing me that was the equivalent to  my billable hours and I would never pay them one dime.  I took it to the Superior Court on appeal and again lost only on a technicality.  No mention of my arguments or citations regarding negligence. Then lost there and went to the Supreme Court of Washington to challenge the billing of a person already indigent as I had to act as my own Attorney.  That case they did not take but sent me back to the Hospital Attorney's to negotiate. By that time the one Attorney had left the legal firm defending the hospital and was now what kind of Attorney?  A Personal Injury one aka Med Mal.  He was actually a good dude and knew I was telling the truth and did little to cut any of my arguments except the one I lost on; This was the issue was the law requiring official notice that I intended to file suit and I did not follow the protocol as required by the state.  That is where hiring a Lawyer to teach me would have come in handy.   But few would even speak to me as the University of Washington has a long arm in Seattle and they have long arms to collect business in return from. 

That said suddenly on a Sunday I was contacted by a supposed agent of the State saying that "Anonymous" was requesting all medical histories and records of complainants against the University of Washington and I had until February 4th to file an injunction to stop it.   Odd on a Sunday when the Government is closed and when I did not open the attachment I simply responded to the email - NO, JUST NO - I got a response within 20 minutes asking what I meant by that and to clarify.  Really on a Sunday at 4:30 pm a Government agent from Washington State gets back to me?  I don't think so.   Why this was a phising expedition I don't know or care. So go ahead release away that shit is already in the public records.   So do know that your files and records are of public records and that too can be a pain in the ass in the future when someone does a legal search.  It was one of the reasons I moved across country and changed my name but I could and I knew it would be possible by again doing a lot of research on the subject.   But then again maybe its a pain worth having and that at least that one is not treatable by seeing a Physician. 

Should hospitals — and doctors — apologize for medical mistakes?

Donna Helen Crisp spent weeks in a coma and underwent five surgeries after a near-fatal cascade of medical errors.

By Sandra G. Boodman
The Washington Post 
March 12, 2017

When Donna Helen Crisp, a 59-year-old nursing professor, entered a North Carolina teaching hospital for a routine hysterectomy in 2007, she expected to come home the next day.

Instead, Crisp spent weeks in a coma and underwent five surgeries to correct a near-fatal cascade of medical errors that left her with permanent injuries. Desperate for an explanation, Crisp, who is also a lawyer, said she repeatedly encountered a white wall of silence: The hospital and her surgeon refused to say little more than “things didn’t go well.” Crisp spent years piecing together what happened. “I decided I was going to find out even if it takes the rest of my life,” she said.

Jack Gentry said he “went into the hospital a patient and came out a victim.” In 2013, the retired Baltimore police officer suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury during disk replacement surgery at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital that left him a quadriplegic.

But unlike Crisp, Gentry and his wife, a nurse, were immediately told what had gone wrong by his surgeon, who apologized for the error. The hospital covered Gentry’s rehabilitation and other major expenses and paid an undisclosed amount in compensation, all without litigation. “When hospitals mess up, they need to do the right thing,” Gentry said. “MedStar did.”

For patients and their families killed or maimed by medical errors, Crisp’s experience — in which doctors clam up and hospitals deny wrongdoing and aggressively defend their care — remains standard operating procedure in most institutions.

But spurred by concerns about the “deny and defend” model — including its cost, lack of transparency and the perpetuation of errors — programs to circumvent litigation by offering prompt disclosure, apology and compensation for mistakes as an alternative to malpractice suits are becoming more popular. Johns Hopkins researchers recently estimated that medical mistakes kill 251,000 Americans annually, which would make them the ­third-leading cause of death. Traditionally, the only way for patients to find out what went wrong has been to sue.

A blueprint for the approach employed in Gentry’s case is being promoted by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Called CANDOR, an acronym for Communication and Optimal Resolution, the approach is modeled on a long-standing program pioneered at the University of Michigan. It was tested in 14 hospitals around the country, including MedStar’s Washington Hospital Center and Georgetown University Hospital.

[Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States]

Although they differ, these programs — which typically feature prompt investigation of errors whose findings are shared with the victims, as well as an apology and compensation for injuries — are operating at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Stanford and eight hospitals and outpatient groups in Massachusetts. Despite fears that the new approach would encourage lawsuits, the opposite has proved true. In Michigan, the number of lawsuits was cut nearly in half, and the hospital system saved about $2 million in litigation costs in the first year after the new model was adopted in 2001.

“The whole point of this isn’t to drop malpractice costs, it’s to drive patient safety,” said Richard C. Boothman, the University of Michigan Health System’s executive director of clinical safety and chief risk officer, who launched the program after a career defending doctors and hospitals. “We need to hard-wire as quickly as possible the lessons of these cases.”

In most hospitals, Boothman said, patient safety experts do not routinely talk to risk managers who handle malpractice claims. As a result, valuable information about preventing errors is lost.
Teresa Gentry helps her husband, Jack, stretch out his hands after exercising. He was paralyzed during back surgery. (Kenneth K. Lam/The Baltimore Sun)
In the dark

Most patients never learn they are victims of a medical error. A landmark 1991 Harvard study found that only 2 percent of people harmed by errors file a lawsuit. Those who do face daunting odds: Patients lose 80 percent of malpractice cases. Huge litigation costs, combined with laws that have reduced damage awards in many states, have left many unable to find an attorney because plaintiffs’ lawyers are paid on contingency. Malpractice cases typically take three or more years to resolve. In the interim, many injured people struggle to pay for care.

Litigation “is a tortuous process for patients and health-care workers,” said Beth Daley Ullem, who spent five years seeking answers about the 2003 death of her newborn son from a Chicago hospital that denied any wrongdoing.

“We later learned that this had happened to a family before us and another seven months after,” said Daley Ullem, a former McKinsey consultant whose ruptured uterus went untreated for an hour. She said she received a $4 million settlement before trial, which she offered to give back to the hospital to fund safety improvements. The hospital refused.

Disclosure efforts also face stiff resistance from doctors, insurers and lawyers, including defense attorneys for whom speedier resolution means fewer billable hours.

Despite laws in most states that prevent apologies from being used against doctors in lawsuits, many worry that it will make patients more likely to file suit, said Thomas H. Gallagher, a University of Washington professor of medicine who has written extensively about disclosure. A recent study found that 77 percent of 300 primary-care doctors would not fully disclose a delayed breast cancer diagnosis to a patient.

Doug Wojcieszak, who founded an Illinois-based disclosure advocacy group called “Sorry Works!,” said one Iowa doctor told him that if he started apologizing when things went wrong, “he’d be doing nothing else all day long.”

Insurers are also leery, said Brian Atchinson, president of Physician Insurers Association of America, the trade association for liability insurers, which was involved in the development of CANDOR. “Some states are more conducive to this than others,” he said. “But there are those who don’t believe the benefits outweigh the risks.”

Lawyer Joanne Doroshow, director of the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School, worries that disclosure programs may take advantage of vulnerable patients who are not represented by a lawyer. “The hospitals are in control of it, and it’s still in their interest to try and limit compensation to patients,” she said.

Jeffrey Catalano, a Massachusetts plaintiffs’ lawyer who is president of the state bar and a participant in that state’s disclosure program, says that patients should be represented early in the process. “I think if there’s a good attorney present, there’s no way a client is going to be shortchanged,” he said. “Good attorneys know this: Medical malpractice cases are hard to take to trial. If a client can get $1 now rather than risking getting nothing [at trial] for the prospect of $1.50 later, it may be better to take the $1 now.”

Doing the right thing

The country’s first disclosure program began 30 years ago with a doctor’s desire to do the right thing.

Pulmonologist Steve Kraman, newly named as chief of staff for what is now the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kentucky, said he faced a problem in 1987: how to handle the death of a middle-aged woman caused by an “undeniable error,” a massive overdose of potassium.

“If we had said nothing, [the family] never would have known a thing,” said Kraman, who was also the hospital’s risk manager. “We never would have gotten sued. But I just didn’t feel that was right.” So he suggested to the hospital’s lawyer that they come clean to the patient’s two adult daughters, from whom she was estranged.

“I sat down and told them exactly what happened, that we were responsible for it, that they should hire a lawyer and we were going to negotiate a payment,” he recalled. Two months later, the family was paid $250,000.

From then on, Kraman said, all cases involving errors were handled similarly. “We paid out for things that nobody could have sued for in their wildest dreams,” said Kraman, who is now a professor at the University of Kentucky. Some patients declined the cash, he said, because they feared it would “ruin their relationship with the doctor.” Kraman said he refused to pay a dime in cases where no injury could be proved. “That just alienates doctors and nurses who feel like you’re throwing them under the bus.”

Kraman said he had several advantages: Doctors were employed and insured by the VA system. Payments, which averaged $16,000, were made from the U.S. treasury, not the hospital coffers. And the program had the support of the hospital’s director and lawyer as well as the U.S. attorney for Kentucky.

“This has to be done from the top down” or it won’t work, Kraman said. “The message has to be ‘This is how we do business.’ ”

When Boothman arrived at the University of Michigan in 2001 — after two decades defending doctors, including an orthopedic surgeon who had been sued 21 times — he decided to try a similar approach. That included encouraging staff to report errors and bad outcomes; reports jumped from 2,400 a year to more than 34,000.

“You have to normalize honesty,” Boothman said, “to create a culture of continuous improvement.” Applying the lessons gleaned from those errors, he said, has helped make care safer.

“Litigating a case for three years and telling everybody, ‘Don’t talk about it and don’t change anything,’ is immoral and counterproductive,” he added. “I don’t serve my organization well by defending care we shouldn’t be defending.”

“Today we’re often at the bedside as soon as things happen,” he said. Patients and their families are interviewed as part of the hospital’s investigation of the facts, something that does not happen in traditional litigation.

Like Kraman, Boothman said he worries that some hospitals are using disclosure to cherry-pick small or unwinnable cases, not as a standard approach.

A test case

Orthopedic surgeon P. Justin Tortolani remembers with sickening clarity the moment he realized that a device he was installing had gone too far, penetrating Jack Gentry’s spine. The 60-year-old retired police officer, who had hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, was instantly paralyzed from the neck down.

“You can’t really believe it’s happening,” said Tortolani, Union Memorial’s director of spine surgery. Summoning his years of training, the surgeon formulated a plan and steeled himself to tell Teresa Gentry what had happened. It was the first of many conversations about the accident that he would have with the family.

“We didn’t want to go through litigation, we didn’t need to go through litigation,” said Larry L. Smith, MedStar’s vice president for risk management. MedStar uses CANDOR in about a dozen cases with substantial damages annually.

MedStar executives “told me what had happened, why it happened, that it was directly or indirectly their fault and that whatever I needed I should ask for,” Gentry recalled. MedStar paid for five months of inpatient rehab — Gentry’s insurance would have covered only two weeks — modifications to the couple’s home, a $45,000 wheelchair and a new wheelchair-accessible van. It provided a case manager, a home-care nurse and $15,000 for incidental medical expenses.

“Because of the nature of Jack’s injury, we would have had to mortgage everything to pay for his care” otherwise, Teresa Gentry said.

Early on, Gentry said, his older brother, a Baltimore malpractice lawyer, expressed bafflement at MedStar’s approach. “He said as long as we were getting what we needed, to just go with it,” Gentry recalled.

At the end of two years, the case was settled with a confidential payment negotiated by lawyers for the couple, MedStar and the device manufacturer.

“I felt like it would take care of Jack for the rest of his life,” said Teresa Gentry, adding that the couple had been prepared to file a lawsuit if an agreement could not be reached. “Did I get enough to pay for everybody’s pain and suffering and trauma? No.”

“I was very skeptical in the beginning of this whole process,” she recalled, but she said she believes it has worked well, as does her husband.

Tortolani said he feels “remorse, guilt and sorrow for Jack and his family. This shakes you to your core,” he said. MedStar officials have been “unbelievably supportive,” Tortolani said, and he remains deeply grateful to the Gentrys. “My relationship with Jack has never been stronger.”

Donna Helen Crisp says she thinks she would have been less traumatized had the North Carolina hospital and her surgeon not stonewalled her. “I would have been deeply depressed that I had such a bad experience, but I could have moved on with my life,” said Crisp, who has written a book, “Anatomy of Medical Errors: The Patient in Room 2,” about her experience. “Being denied the truth left her with “no way to put it into perspective.”

This story was produced as part of a partnership with Kaiser Health News, a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Define Sex Appeal

I have spent the better part of the week just feeling lousy.  The loss of one's teeth, despite knowing that I will have an amazing restoration when done does little for the now.  Struggling to eat, gluing plastic dentures in place that may look fine but certainly don't feel it all just contribute the bitch about aging.  If this is the worst it will be then I accept it wholeheartedly I just wish it was happening anywhere but here in the "vile.

The reality is that this city of it is clearly not aware that "it" is not always a moniker worth having. Think of Cousin It, being tagged "It," Stephen King's It are not great comparison.  Although secretly I would love if Pennywise would come and haul some of the Bachelorette parties into a sewer.  The it moniker is now over five years old but they are still singing that label in every honky tonk on Broadway.  The endless hysteria over building hotels and "luxury" apartments for apparently the workers who work in them or some mysterious Amazon employee, the one making 150K,  dominates the discussion here; All of this while simultaneously ignoring the endless traffic, violence, the dumpsters that are called schools, the lack of affordable housing for those who could use less luxury and of course the city debt and the avoidance of discussing how to plan if another flood occurs.  Gosh well we have a Plumber as a Governor and who better to re-mediate post flood!

I would kill, whoops wrong choice of words as any metaphor is taken literally here, to have a conversation with someone/anyone intelligent.  When I read just the garbage Tennessean or the business journals I at least have some familiarity or knowledge of what is going on around the city of it.   The endless contradictions, the endless bullshit and of course the endless bragging is what I have come to learn defines Southern Culture. Add to that the Southern issues with anger and religion it is a hell of a place and that may actually be an appropriate metaphor.

Right now the dumpster I am at is having a lock down and I am trapped in a room with a young black student who is verbally abusive, raised her hand at me and has endlessly gone on and on insulting me until she finally decided to lie down.  This is my work and my life in this place. Again one asks the questions about poverty and race and one's own relationship with those issues and there is no poverty like Southern poverty and the neglect and abuse of those black is demonstrated by how they behave and act.   After finally playing stupid to her and offering to put on classical music she finally gave up after not knowing what any of it is or who Mozart or Bach were/are.    I am relieved so again I am going home to an empty apartment to watch Netflix and chill alone.  This is my life after 50 what is yours like?

I can't tell who I loathe more here - women or men.  Well both as this is their city that they collectively neglect.  The endless issues over children, their belief system, the lack of education, the politics, their health issues as in overweight and of course the lack of fashion or style.  With my dental issues I put on weight and frankly sold a lot of designer clothes as they no longer fit and at some point I will likely not wear them again as I have moved on from that style.  But I do miss the occasion to put on something other than athleisure and tennis shoes.  But it would require me to leave the house and give a shit.  Not happening.  I tried when I first moved here but the people are so loathsome, unfriendly and un-engaging I just quit.

But this may also be an issue surrounding age and as I have no children or living family I have no sense of perspective or feedback. The New York Times did an article about women over 50 and they mentioned a site called Honey Good.  I signed up for the emails and well it is about as interesting as reading the Tennessean.  But as always one article stood out and trigger warnings and all I read it, entitled the Do's and Don'ts of Flaunting Your Sex Appeal After 50.

I find all of this tragic, grim and pathetic.  Sex Appeal means in and of itself how to be appealing to a member of the sex whom you are attracted (and this appears targeted to solely heterosexual women) and will have sex. Gosh the MeToo movement missed its mark here.  I assume I want to look good, feel good, be healthy, have sex if I wish and pursue happy functional relationships with anyone at any age.  Asking too much maybe?

Then the new season of  Grace and Frankie on Netflix picked up with the women checked out of the Senior home they were placed in by caring family members and in turn back at the beach house. The house had been sold but whatever happens in real estate means contingency and they managed to get it back from a Millennial rocker by convincing her it was not her style.  Then Grace returned to her former business, Frankie went on to fuck up their other business and both women got laid. All while managing to deal with such important issues as long lines waiting for pharmacy medications and short crossing lights. Dear God is this what old age is for the white and privileged?  Meanwhile their ex-husbands (now married to each other) find themselves on the aging parameter and in turn how they are evolving as new aged out and loud queens.  I cannot believe I actually liked this show but the farcical way they are portraying aging is both neglectful and utterly full of bullshit.

And then lastly I read yesterday about how sex aids for women, the same products that are supposedly what Grace and Frankie sell are actually kicked out of the varying tech conferences and I have to agree this is gender bias and yet without such stimulation I would have no sex appeal.

Women have been the focus lately as apparently we are working later and longer but of course that does not include women who are not famous or well off and into politics.  Ask the women at Kroeger or those of Sears how they feel.  Good Housekeeping is there however to let us know the fun is just beginning. Cannot wait.

Again I am at the local dumpster and it is on fire as always. I had to stop composing this as the Police came into to search the students and the classroom for drugs or weapons.  It was like they were on leave from TSA only with pay.  We had to leave the classroom, the Police searched the room, while we were in the hall the Police wired over the kids, had them remove shoes, turn pockets inside and out.  I stood outside and chatted with the House Admin then later when a dozen kids congregated in the room, refused to leave and I attempted repeatedly to leave the door open, the same little girl hid the shim (the one who had raised her hand to hit me, threaten to strip search me, verbally assault me endlessly - which when I said to stop with the endless verbal assault she seemed clueless as to what that meant. Not the first time a young black student responded that way when told to stop. So you can see what great communication and relationships they have in their lives)  Then finally the Principal came down, the kids scattered in the room, hid under desks, tried to use me as a shield or something, the little girl behind a computer cart.  He enters and films them one by one and walks out.  I thought this is something you see in a zoo - look mommy at the animals!  So yes I can focus on what I feel and look like and how I feel about race, poverty and education.     Another day in Paradise.

So tell me again, what is sex appeal?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Home Again

After spending the holidays in New Orleans I was curious as to what happened with the displaced and those returning after being away over a decade from what was their home.  I found only one person who was hostile about my queries but he was overall a douche to everyone around so I took that as part of the problem when you are an outsider who is not but still feels that way as that is what it is like for anyone who returns to their "home" and wonders who has changed more.

One of the issues I was curious about was the Brad Pitt's Make it Right homes that were once so acclaimed and recognized as solutions to the housing issues particularly in the 9th Ward the area most devastated by Katrina.   I found this article from The New Republic regarding one residents experience in coming home to his new house and the long range issues facing the area when it comes to the idea of rebuilding.  Funny how that has never been followed up in the same journals that once praised him. 

Well since that the Make It Right Foundation has closed up shop.  The foundation has faced civil lawsuits over the construction and design of the homes that have now been moved to federal courts due to the complex way the foundation was established - in other words the incorporation papers that enable ways to avoid taxes.  Ah its great to be rich.

What has been revealed was that Brad Pitt has and wants nothing to do with the charity affixed to his name.   Brad Pitt’s lawyers claim that even if the plaintiffs’ complaints against the foundation have merit, Pitt shouldn’t be included in the lawsuit. While Pitt founded and fund raised for the charity, he claims his involvement didn’t extend to anything approaching the actual design of the buildings. Notably, Pitt is only asking that he be excused from the lawsuit, not that the case not proceed.

 As Nola noted, this is the first time Pitt has spoken publicly about Make It Right since the 2015 Katrina anniversary. Funny how I read of the dissolution of this charity on all places the New York Post Page Six.

I recall when the foundation began it was a different story.    I recall when Pitt's charity began I was still active in the Green Build community and many were lauding the construction and design as solid, guess not.  This is from their website:

Founded by Brad Pitt in 2007, Make It Right builds homes, buildings and communities for people in need. All Make It Right projects are Cradle to Cradle inspired – meeting the highest standards of green building.
Through innovative partnerships and community-led design sessions, we are working in neighborhoods across the country and educating others to change the way buildings are designed and built.

 I once again reminded myself of Sean Penn pretending to be the Cajun Army to demonstrate his activism.  It is always nice to plan while in the Four Seasons lobby bar, it is where I do my best planning too!  Funny how looking at that the writer Matt Taibbi and the Rolling Stone have imploded since then as well due to a disaster of their own making.  Remember that El Chapo interview?  Will he be at the trial to testify?  And where was Sean Penn in Houston or in Puerto Rico?   Oh like all good celebrity charities his is undergoing a rebranding. But then again so many disasters so little time. I may agree with the NOLA residents that there is no such thing as bad publicity and any is better than nothing.  I often think it was an attempt to do right at a politically adrift time, as one cannot forget the infamous Kanye remark about George Bush not liking Black people.  Hmm times have certainly changed.  And today when we look to those stepping it up in what seems to be consistently one disaster after another the faces offering assistance are just normal small business owners without the fame or money in which to do so.  I will say the exception is Chef Jose Andreas and his World Kitchen who is just doing right by providing the immediate - food.   And the rest with Altruism tourism to the Real Housewife of New York I am sure there is good intention but as I wonder if cameras were not present would Bethenny Frankel be?

The mainstream media was covering bs Manuel Linn Miranda last week in Puerto Rico when he brought his Broadway musical, Hamilton, to fund raise for the country.  Well $500 tickets to Hamilton is shocking or not given the crime and murder rate  which of course will be ignored by the fans being shuttled under guard to performance which once that run is done they will go home and leave the residents to figure out how to end their own long running drama. 

It is easy to pose and posture and want to do good and the idea should be a part of all our dialogs but the reality is that the community knows its needs and they have the right people and knowledge in which to do so.  It is why I am relieved that at least Microsoft made a monetary effort versus actually building housing in Seattle. But even they are facing a steep climb.   But this is not just about housing it is about being home and finding one's way there.  Some are not so lucky and I suspect those in New Orleans may have to bear and prepare for the worse, now and in the future.

New Orleans under water: 12 years after Katrina, officials can't get it right

The city has seen rain almost every day since April – but pumps continue to malfunction as water board administrators offer wrong information

Jim Gabour
The Guardian
Tue 15 Aug 2017

It is true: New Orleans lives and dies by its water. We eat from the Gulf, lake and wetlands and we breathe deeply of a sweltering, airborne humidity. We get our drinking water from the muddy Mississippi river, which carries the effluvia of half the country. Thousands upon thousands of rainy years have amplified the continuing decay in wetlands surrounding the city, creating vast pockets of valuable petroleum and natural gas which generate a major portion of our economy. The same rainfall and river provide continual growth in one of the lushest plant environments in America.

But we occasionally have our homes ruined, and we occasionally drown, in water.

In the last big lesson, involving the loss of 134,000 homes and 1,500 lives in New Orleans, a hurricane overwhelmed the manmade walls meant to keep the water at bay. Since then, hundreds of miles of new and reinforced levees have been built, over the last dozen years, to make sure that a ruinous intrusion does not happen again. The army corps of engineers built three huge new multimillion-dollar pumps on the Lakefront, so that when the engineers close the floodgates to keep the lake waters out, the pumps can be activated to keep excessive water from overwhelming the system.

Now all the city needs to do is be able to remove water that falls from the sky throughout every single year. And in 2017, that rain has fallen almost every day since 1 April.

The water is indeed rising down here. A lesser but integral part of the problem is loss of trees and foliage that absorb water before it goes into the drainage system. The city had an enormous saltwater intrusion during Katrina. Many plants and trees, like magnolias, that were exposed to the long-term saltwater were killed outright.

In 2012, a US Forest Service study of 20 major American cities reported:

The greatest percentage of annual loss in tree cover occurred in New Orleans, Houston and Albuquerque. Researchers expected to find a dramatic loss of trees in New Orleans and said that it is most likely due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In fact, almost 10% of the city’s trees died in the four years after Katrina.

Even without the trees, we supposedly have manmade protection. But last week, in the wake of the previous two weekends’ floods, the recently retired sewerage and water board executive director (S&WB) Cedric Grant again repeated the oft-cited fact that “the pumps can only drain 1in of rain the first hour that they’re turned on and half an inch every subsequent hour”.

By most reports, the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, where I live, received almost 10in of rain in three hours on Saturday 5 August. Marigny Street itself was completely full and overflowing. Our neighbors moved their cars from the street to park up on higher sidewalks. The water quickly rose over the curbs, and into my own yard and drive. I was pulling my shallow draft Mudbug pirogue out of storage when the water finally stopped rising. My house is on a high lot four blocks from the river, and the main structure is built up on piers, so in the end, the water did not get to the floorboards.

The meteorological bottom line is that even if the entire pumping system had been operating at maximum capacity, as Grant and the S&WB general superintendent, Joseph Becker, had earlier claimed, the rain would still have overwhelmed the system.

However, when pressed by an angry public and a media swarm that sensed something amiss, Becker first admitted eight of the city’s pumps had been out of service before a drop of rain fell on Saturday.

Subsequent investigation found that of 67 pumps on the East Bank of the city, just 58 were “functional in some form”. But the board’s dedicated power system also failed, so that only 38 pumps could be used at one time. Half capacity. And according to the board’s own logs, one crucial pumping station, No 12 on the Lakefront, had not even been manned until four hours after the 3.30pm storm, and not actually turned on until 8.49pm. Which is exactly when residents say they first saw waters starting to recede.

So, we are in the midst of this monster rainstorm season, with hurricanes coming up in the Gulf. What do the ever-alert Nola civil service employees do in this circumstance? Well, of course, they take half the pumps we do have offline for maintenance. Most of these pumps work on antiquated 25-cycle electricity, instead of the prevalent 60-cycle system, and need power produced by the city’s turbine system to function.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who also serves as S&WB president, essentially fired all the top administrative personnel at the board on 8 August.

But his friend Cedric Grant was allowed to resign. For allowing the city to flood twice in two weeks, Grant will receive free health benefits and $175,400 a year in pension for the rest of his life.

And you can bet Mr Grant’s car did not get flooded or stolen.

On 13 August, Landrieu announced that the rainwater removal system was nowhere near up to speed, and that the city was “vulnerable” for the next two weeks, as the height of hurricane season approaches. He also reported that only two of the S&WB’s five electrical turbines, which power the pumps, were operational, and that a total of 26 mobile generators had been moved into place or were being transported into the city to provide additional electricity for the pumping system.

The immediate prospect is grim, even without a hurricane. Forecasts for the next week call for a 40-60% chance of “downpours” every day.

Twelve years after Katrina, things have not changed one iota at the New Orleans sewerage and water board. Still using tap, glue, and spit.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Lessons in Civics

I spent the better part of the day doing Yoga and trying to meditate to find inner peace.  This weekend once again seemed to do its best to distract and disturb the idea of what MLK Day was to mean and the intent of his message.

We have the story that has now evolved about the Boys and the Indian Drummer who all seem to be either lying, failing to communicate effectively or just trying to make some excuses, but once again the Adults in the room failed to circumvent, stop or intervene as the chanting, posturing and smirking what could have escalated into into something worse.

But that is alright because not one but two schools, one private the other the University of Oklahoma, filmed a blackface video which shows that the white and the privilege go hand in hand with America's future elite.  

The Women's March came and went like the weather and it I suspect has seen its end coming to a rapid close and will be back in the closet with the rest of the "resistance."

Today David Leonhardt wrote an interesting op-ed piece about how few Americans seem engaged when it comes to the Government Shutdown.  Well they were busy with competing Women's Marches, Right to Life ones, Black Israelites and Native American issues all on a massive weekend when Super Bowl Champions were being decided.  Bitch there are only so many hours in the day and days to a weekend. Pass the chili.

I live in Tennessee and this weekend we inaugurated a Plumber to the Governor's Office and he is about as right wing religious crazy as one could imagine in this state of red.  He of course pledged to God and swore for smaller Government so if that is the case may I start with stopping the incentive packages or corporate welfare being doled out to the biggest Welfare Queens that ever lived.  They don't drive Cadillac's however they fly private, way better and bigger to harm the environment.

The message of King is one that they preach heavily here and are also in denial about but there is no shortage of bullshit in the South as that is what they fertilize the soil with as it makes for great cotton or whatever they grow here.  I have no clue and don't care.

But I do come from Seattle the town that wears more t-shirts, bracelets, clutches more pearls and pretends that the history of racism was something done years before and they will march, walk, hashtag to stop it all while sitting in their very white neighborhoods with their highly capable  children going to very white schools and all possessing the intellect to at least insult you with multi-syllabic words.  In Seattle you drink the kool aid and it it like tea is too sweet and anyone who refuses is an instigator or a problem, in the South you are just a blessing.  Same diff but with an accent.

It is is easy to be liberal when you are in a comfortable chair with a good job and a source of income. It is good when you are white, educated and with few debts.  Your children and family are all well and well adjusted and you survive a crisis as you have access and availability to the resources needed to resolve it.  You are privileged when you are aware of the world outside but you are also safely insulated from it.

Until I moved here I did not get racism at all. I witnessed it and I never experienced it.  I have here where yes those of other races judge me by my race and assume the worst.  It exhausts you to think that skin color defines you.  But until I actually felt it I did not understand it as "racism" but as a misguided attempt to generalize and failure to know me.  But I felt as those faces of color must feel every day as prior to this my encounters with race were limited to neighbors and to students and my own ability to be outside but not inside actually living it.  As a result it enabled me to take that higher ground when accusations of racism fell into my direction. I used to believe that it was a card tossed like a penalty flag on a football field where not every penalty is noticed nor is always one but it was tossed as a last ditch effort to gain traction regarding an issue and but those on notice.  And I agree that times it was genuine, such as with regards to Police shootings, jobs and housing. But to me and to those around me we are not racists and we don't do anything to generate that I thought;  I used to feel pity when I heard about such horrific issues and when riots resulted, marches came and went I thought it was deserved as that showed a desperation which I felt I understood and could at least empathize.  And then I came here.   I questioned everything I had ever learned from living in Seattle in the most diverse area of the city, from working in public education, from living in Oakland and other diverse eclectic urban cities, from working and befriending colleagues that were not like me.  And then I moved to Nashville and I realized I knew nothing.  The urban cities of the West and East has a way of making discrimination wrapped in both prejudice and full out racism all taste smooth and bland like a nice vegan tofu dish that makes hate take on the flavor that surrounds it.  Coming here my taste buds got woke alright.

My first real experience with faces of color came from the schools. The Teacher who refused to let me take a bus as the neighborhood was not safe despite the fact that TSU is adjacent and I could easily pick a bus up midday without fear or delay.  What did it say about anyone who went to this school.   A school that shared the name of the Engineer who designed the African American Museum and whose legacy in building and in books that should be in the library shelves in said school.  Yet she did not know of this and she a face of color was schooled by this white woman who went from school to school sharing my knowledge of history like the markers that align every street corner and building throughout the city.   A place surrounded by history and yet its residents seemed to be utterly unaware of it.  That lack of knowledge was the first flag tossed and a penalty point noted.  I was now on alert that the game and play was not one that would lead to winning.

The next was in the behavior and attitude of the children.  I would later see the same demonstrated by the adults I encountered when I volunteered at the Frist Museum, at the YMCA, on the Bus and in the Symphony.  Each encounter was marked by a derision and nastiness that made me wonder how I presented myself to deserve such ire.   Even my Yoga teacher today said that I had been surrounded by evil since arriving here and I cannot disagree.  The next penalty flag was raised.  And they kept flying to the point I had to walk off the field as it was game over. 

From this I began to question my feelings about race and of course religion.  My politics have never changed but even that too I had to wonder what I brought from my years of leaning left and advocating such strong beliefs in being a Democrat and in Government.  A Teacher of History and Literature I know found myself back in school.  And here in the schools I finally faced what I had not realized, that public education is a dumpster.  The schools here in Nashville are dumpsters on fire and the children garbage tossed inside and utterly neglected and abused but of late as I see Teachers walk out across the country I realize that this is the state of the nation in our schools and I was not alone with my frustration.  However, Nashville is like nothing I could have believed until I came here, entered the schools, interacted with the children and the staff and came away hating myself and them even more.  There is an odd co-dependency and in turn social segregation and isolation that dominates the city more than any Confederate flag or statue could ever manage.   As the game was over there was time to reflect and to study the plans and options for the future and I realized I wanted nothing to do with the future here I had to learn how to cope with the present.  I think King understood that better than anyone that without dealing across the board at the current state of affairs change and growth is not possible.  He too spent a great deal of time alone thinking, his in a cell and mine in my apartment and when you have that much time to do so you either go crazy or learn a whole new set of rules for games not yet played.

 I knew then I had to learn how to forgive myself and that was the process that began in the last  half of the year and will carry me through the rest of this year as I prepare to leave.  I can do nothing nor want to.  I want to hate less and not feel pity either as both come from places of superiority and arrogance that I don't need or want.  I just want to accept this as fact and move on and hope they figure it out but I have no intention of doing more than being a passive observer.  And when I read this in the New York Times today, I realized I am the subject that Dr. King addresses in his speech about Northern Liberalism.  But alas I am not in the North and perhaps that is where I belong because maybe then I can actually do something with those who are more like me and want to make amends.  Wishful dreaming or hoping but it is better than nothing. And we cannot not do nothing.  I love the double negative it means exactly that we will do nothing and nothing will be done in my lifetime.  One already longer than Dr. Kings.

What King Said About Northern Liberalism

“The white moderate” was more of an obstacle than “the Ku Klux Klanner.”

By Jeanne Theoharis
Dr. Theoharis, a political scientist, is the author of many books and articles on the civil rights movement.

The New York Times/Opinon
Jan. 20, 2019

“There is a pressing need for a liberalism in the North which is truly liberal,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told an interracial audience in New York City in 1960. He called for a liberalism that “rises up with righteous indignation when a Negro is lynched in Mississippi, but will be equally incensed when a Negro is denied the right to live in his neighborhood.”

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it’s tempting to focus on the glaring human rights abuses, racist fear-mongering and malfeasance happening at the federal level. But taking seriously Dr. King’s critique of Northern liberalism means also calling out liberal public officials and residents who profess commitments to equality yet maintain a corrupt criminal justice system and a segregated school system. It means calling out Northern newspapers, along with Southern ones, to atone for their skewed civil rights coverage. And it means reckoning with the dangers of “polite” racism, as Dr. King warned, which still rings true today.

Dr. King visited New York City throughout the 1960s and called attention to its racial problems. In Harlem in 1963, he spoke to an audience of some 15,000 white people as City College’s commencement speaker. Fewer than 2 percent of the graduates that day were black, giving visual proof to his admonition that the “de facto segregation of the North was as injurious as the legal segregation of the South.”

The next year, in a TV interview after the Harlem uprising, Dr. King called for “an honest, soul-searching analysis and evaluation of the environmental causes which have spawned the riots,” which started after the police killed 15-year-old Jimmy Powell. Dr. King was nearly run out of town when he dared to suggest that New York would benefit from a Civilian Complaint Review Board to oversee the Police Department.

In 1964, Dr. King refused to condemn the Brooklyn chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality’s plan to create a major disruption by stalling cars on highways that led to the World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows. After all, the goal was to draw attention to rampant inequality in the city, which had long been unaddressed. “If our direct action programs alienate so-called friends,” he wrote to in a letter to civil rights leaders, “they never were really our friends.”

Indeed, mainstream newspapers lauded his work in the South but took issue when he brought the same tactics north. In 1967, Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference announced the need for mass disruption in Northern cities to draw attention to longstanding inequalities. The New York Times criticized the idea as “certain to aggravate the angry division of whites and Negroes into warring camps,” part of the paper’s long history of deploring direct action on home turf.

Three years earlier, when 460,000 New York City students stayed out of school to demand a comprehensive school desegregation plan — making it the largest civil rights demonstration of the decade — The Times called the daylong boycott “unreasonable,” “unjustified” and “violent.”

After the Watts uprising, Dr. King focused on the racial dishonesty of the North which “showered praise on the heroism of Southern Negroes.” But concerning local conditions, “only the language was polite; the rejection was firm and unequivocal.” The uneven attention was clear, he noted: “As the nation, Negro and white, trembled with outrage at police brutality in the South, police misconduct in the North was rationalized, tolerated and usually denied.”

Dr. King also highlighted white people’s illegal behavior that helped produced Northern ghettos: The white man “flagrantly violates building codes and regulations, his police make a mockery of law, and he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions for civic services,” he said in an address to the American Psychological Association in 1967.

In his 1967 book “Where Do We Go From Here,” Dr. King noted the limits of Northern liberalism: “Negroes have proceeded from a premise that equality means what it says.” “But most whites in America, including many of good will,” he wrote “proceed from a premise that equality is a loose expression for improvement. White America is not even psychologically organized to close the gap.”

That still holds true. In 2014, the Civil Rights Project at U.C.L.A. found that New York State’s schools were the most segregated in the nation. Low-income students of color languish in underfunded schools while wealthier students attend better-resourced ones. And white parents are still tremendously resistant to school rezoning, just as they were 50 years ago.

And discriminatory policing persists. Despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Mission Accomplished” narrative, police officers continue to use stop-and-frisk in a way that’s racially disparate. Now, many of the stops simply go unreported. The Police Department, despite court decisions, continues to disparately monitor Muslim communities, and it has reportedly surveilled Black Lives Matter activists.

At the same time, many people have condemned the disruptive tactics of Black Lives Matter activists, claiming they should be more like Dr. King.

In April 1963, Dr. King sat alone in the Birmingham jail. He knew the rabid side of white supremacy very intimately. And yet he wrote that “the white moderate, who is more devoted to order than to justice,” was more of an impediment than “the White Citizens Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner.”

For too long, order has been more important than justice. We can honor Dr. King’s legacy by taking uncomfortable, disruptive, far-reaching action to remedy the problems to which he devoted his life.