Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Big Tech

I am still cleaning up the absurd sites that collect and sell your data.  Much of it is so convoluted and inaccurate that it is almost disturbing.  My personal favorite is one that enables anonymous individuals to "rate" you on some vague credibility scale.  Really this is a business? But then again I have to remember that most of big tech are failed juveniles whom have never gotten over being 13 and being ignored.

On March 19th  the HBO documentary on the fraudster Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos will shed lite on the weird co-dependent fame seeking money grabbing tech industry. This last week I read about the confidential Emails by Mark Zuckerberg on the Facebook crisis regarding what they do with user data.   Irony that this week another app that collects personal health history has been revealed that they disclose that too to Facebook. Fitbit anyone?

With the switch in Congress to a younger more savvy demographic who are familiar with tech and are prodigious users in ways that demonstrate how the hold and its effective use of social media can change minds, hearts and outcomes in both good and bad ways perhaps now we can have that serious discussion about the role of tech and the need for regulation.

Europe has been highly aggressive so the model is already there and so it saves time and energy in which to find ways to enable people to hold on to their identity and in turn exploitation of that.   True if you are willing to put a portfolio of personal information short of your social security number then in turn expect that you will either have to pay a provider to host and in turn maintain a sense of confidence and respect in which it is used or well know that any fat man in his mother's basement with a router and a slight Russian accent will appropriate said info for whatever nefarious uses he desires.   Some of this you own it and maybe you need to keep it to yourself as my Mother used to say.  Sharing is good in the appropriate situations.

This goes back to the day that the Student who informed me that I was a white lady who was a bitch (I own that sure but this was me not playing black music vs white music as she would not explain to me what said music is) that she wanted to write a complaint about me.  Again she wanted my full name and I informed her that my last name was sufficient and that I would happily go the office to inform the Administrator of her complaints and they could take over the paperwork in which to do so.  No she insisted she wanted my full name.  Well first of all back in the day we had these things called the White Pages (they exist online now surprise!) that people could look  you up, find your phone number and address unless you ask to be unlisted.  Gosh and the phone company respected that today to opt out it requires all kinds of bells and whistles and you are never sure it is complete so the last thing I do is give anyone my full name anymore.  And since I have an odd last name with an extra letter few spell in correctly so its all good, again when I took said last name I did that with intent.  Gosh me smart! This young woman wanted my full name to search on social media and of course demean me.  This is not the same issue as in the press that upsets Trump that and that he can be mocked in the media say by Saturday Night Live as he is a public figure and the rules that oversee that issue are complex. But the reality is that pretty much anyone has the ability to demean and degrade you over the internet and you can do little about it.  Ask those who have been on the negative side of YELP or Amazon reviews about how that works.

Tech is running the show. They run our lives and in turn manage them.  This is terrifying and worrisome as it truly is unforgiving. So that idiotic idea to wear a Confederate Uniform or post a tit pic back in the day can come back and haunt you forever.   There is no right to be forgotten nor apparently forgiven for being an idiot.  Funny how that exemption works if you are rich/famous/powerful.  

The left needs to get radical on big tech – moderate solutions won't cut it

Radical democratic transformation seeks to empower those that have been excluded from the leading roles in the digital economy

by Evgeny Morozov
       Evgeny Morozov is the author of the Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom and a Guardian US columnist
Wed 27 Feb 2019 06.00 EST

To note that the “techlash” – our rude and abrupt awakening to the mammoth powers of technology companies – is gaining force by the month is to state the obvious. Amazon’s sudden departure from New York City, where it was planning to open a second headquarters, attests to the rapidly changing political climate. The New Yorkers, apparently, have no desire to spend nearly $3bn in subsidies in order to lure Amazon – a company that, on making $11.2bn in profits in 2018, has paid no tax and even managed to book $129m in tax rebates.

Ignored in most accounts of the growing anti-Silicon Valley sentiment is the incongruence of the political and ideological forces behind the techlash. To paraphrase a Russian classic: while all the happy apologists of big tech are alike, all its critics are unhappy in their own way. These critics, united by their hatred of the digital giants, do make short-term tactical alliances; such arrangements, however, cannot hold in the long term.

One can distinguish three camps in today’s anti-tech landscape. They cover almost the entire political spectrum, from the pro-market neoliberal right to the pro-solidarity socialist left, even if the most prominent faces of the latter are still to take an explicit position on these issues.
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The two better-known currents of the techlash represent what we might call “economism” and “technocracy”. Adherents of the former insist that the users of digital platforms are systematically shortchanged for their data and need to be compensated in some way. Such ideas are also rapidly gaining relevance in the policy world. In a major speech in mid-February, Gavin Newsom, California’s new governor, called on the tech giants to embrace the idea of a “data dividend”. “California’s consumers,” he said, “should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data.”

Why dub this “economism”? Well, in part because this perspective does not easily admit non-economic critiques of today’s big tech; the only power relationship it detects and scrutinizes is that between firms and consumers. There are no citizens – let alone social and public institutions – in this political universe.

This is bound to yield perverse results. By linking the size and profitability of tech companies to the handouts received by their users, this approach might even entrench the political power of big tech. As for consumers, they might welcome their expansion: the bigger the technology companies, the larger the data dividend. However disruptive it might seem, this is an extremely conservative approach, leaving everything as it is, but now, also, shuffling some money to consumers while giving the tech companies carte blanche to take over the rest of society.

Treating data as a commodity would also make non-market solutions infeasible and costly. Imagine a resource-starved city hall aspiring to build an algorithmic system for coordinating mobility services. On discovering that it now needs to pay for the data of the residents, it might never proceed with the plan. Deep-pocketed firms like Uber do not face such hurdles.
Why US rightwing populists and their global allies disagree over big tech
Evgeny Morozov
Read more

The “technocrats” of the second camp often define themselves in opposition to those preaching “economism”. And yet, they hardly represent a very radical departure, for they, too, believe in the virtues of free and competitive markets. They merely contend that we will never get there without strong antitrust policies, which assume far greater importance in today’s digital economy with its ubiquitous network effects.

The technocrats, thus, look to the toolkit of antitrust law to limit the power of big tech and, if necessary, make it smaller – by breaking up the tech giants. Such thinking is increasingly in vogue in Washington, where renegade thinktanks like the Open Markets Institute seek to reverse the regime of light and very selective enforcement of antitrust laws of the past 40 years. Brussels is also quite receptive to such considerations, with the European Commission, under the guidance of Margrethe Vestager, spearheading even more ambitious antitrust efforts. The recent ruling by the German cartel office, which prohibits Facebook from pooling the data of third-party apps without explicit user consent, is inspired by a similar vision.

Such technocratic solutions, however radical in their objectives – breaking up Facebook or Google is no small feat – stop short of charting an appealing, post-technocratic and political vision for a world rich in data. Instead, they seek solace in a centralized, rigid and heavily bureaucratic model invented and originally deployed a hundred years ago. It’s probably true that 10 smaller Facebooks would be less damaging than the Facebook of today. This, however, is no political program.

Demanding to break up tech giants is fine, but what kind of non-commercial institutions and arrangements should exist in a just digital society where neither Facebook nor Google play the dominant role? Lacking a convincing answer, the technocratic agenda reveals itself to be mere economism in anti-establishment rhetorical disguise: the fundamental question of what awaits us in a world beyond big tech is to be answered by market competition itself.

What, then, of the third – and, for the moment, least visible – current in the techlash debate? Its adherents, currently to be found in a smattering of radical municipal movements, some of them in power across Europe, preach neither markets nor technocracy but, rather, radical democratic transformation. They do not start by assuming that market competition is always the right answer. Instead, they revise the question itself, moving away from redressing the ills of big tech and towards asking what sort of arrangements and institutions might underwrite a more progressive digital future.

How could digital technologies help redesign core political institutions, including representative democracy and its bureaucratic apparatus, and make them more decentralized and participatory? Proponents of this view imagine citizens not as sophisticated and emancipated consumers - merely to be served by more ethical digital capitalists of the future - but, rather, as active, political and, occasionally, entrepreneurial subjects.

This third approach questions the adequacy of treating data and artificial intelligence as commodities

Once given unmitigated access to the most advanced technologies of the day and a modicum of resources, these citizens are trusted to find effective solutions to the very problems that currently baffle remote planners and bureaucrats. They might even invent new services, of both commercial and non-commercial variety, that are currently hard to imagine because access to the key resources of the digital economy – data, identity, artificial intelligence – is tightly controlled.

Unlike economism and technocracy, this third approach does not aim to create more efficient markets, either by extending the paradigm of private property to data or by breaking up tech monopolies. Rather, it questions the adequacy of treating data and artificial intelligence as commodities rather than as collectively produced and socially useful resources. In doing so, it seeks to empower those that have been excluded from the leading roles in the digital economy and bureaucracy alike.

Faced with a resurgent rightwing populism that questions, not always incorrectly, the virtues of the unreformed administrative state, a progressive movement would not get very far by promising a mere return to the technocratic apparatus of the New Deal or of the original welfare state. Likewise, those advocating “economism” have a steep road ahead, as they are preaching the deepening of the neoliberal agenda at a time of growing pushback against globalization, financialization and tax avoidance.

The choice for the undecided movements on the left is simple: if they truly want to depart from the neoliberal dogma, with its insistence on competition as the overarching political and social device of modernity, they should resist rhetorical and ideological temptations of “economism” and “technocracy” and rally behind the option of the radical democratic transformation.

It might be the most ambitious - and most ambiguous - of the three techlash currents. However, for all its utopianism, it’s the only option that allows progressive forces to stop merely defending the past, and, for a change, articulate a just, fair and egalitarian vision for the digital future. If they fail, the rhetorical space would not rest empty forever: the rightwing populists would get there fast, minus, of course, all the justice and egalitarianism.

How to Play Ball

I have said that in the case of many of these #MeToo allegations, that they either need to be heard out in court, determined if a crime was committed and in turn prosecuted or at least charged and in turn all evidence and information placed in public record.

A good example is that 2008 R. Kelly was charged and ultimately acquitted of charges stemming from sexual abuse and it appears that the court system functioned as it does and he was and still is a black man so this seems to prove that with power, money, excellent Attorneys that a Jury will ultimately make the decision they feel the evidence supports or does not.   But then for over a decade it seemed to not provide Mr. Kelly with a wake up call instead seemed to give him a hall pass to further denigrate and abuse women and girls.  In this time frame undoubtedly colleagues and associates crossed his path, were aware of the history and perhaps even the present and did or said nothing to stop him. At one point no one felt compelled as a friend to even say, "Hey knock off the girl shit at least Robert as this is not good for you or anyone."   It is clear that you must direct your concerns to the player not the played to get anyone famous to pay attention but hey you do what you can.

This goes the same for Michael Jackson who was also cleared of charges and in a civil case as well and since that time two of the victims have come forward admitting they lied. There were years of problems and warnings with Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, fill in the blank as it appears that all of this was not a secret among friends or family.    Drug use the same and to say that the individual was private and they could not does not recall that two weeks before Prince's plane landed for all the world to know and he was given naloxone to stop a drug overdose. The same with Kurt Cobain who had escaped from rehab only days before .   Are there no Adults in the room at all who can say STOP?! And more importantly talk to each other to stay on message? And yes there were in all the cases and still nothing was done and I have to ask why anyone gave Cobain a gun or continued to work with Weinstein given the whispers.  But then again I don't understand fame or money. 

Another famous individual has emerged from his rock and while it is unclear to what exactly transpired during his years at Pixar it was enough for him to leave and go where I have no idea. But John Lasseter is back working for millions of dollars.  Did he go the the Vatican to seek penance?  That was a bad idea.  Or is there some fake rehab facility that a man goes to on a nice island, say Mustique; I hear in the 60s it was swinging.  There they get their shit together over cocktails, emphasis on the cock part.   That place must be packed like a cool dorm or prison without the cells or maybe with them as who knows what shit goes down on these places.  Oh god did I say go down?  Next patient, Robert Kraft, who comes in and asks for a massage, no happy ending please.

Again I am not sure what to say about men who are 70 plus years old, billionaires and need to go to some odd Asian themed strip mall for a "massage."  You mean you can't find a woman willing to come to you or a discrete secondary location for some kink? Seriously that is the real problem that you have to know that these are not well managed or organized sex brothels like Amsterdam or even the Bunny Ranch (although that pushes the boundary but it is legal) and that sordid place anyone in their right mind would not set foot in there for numerous reasons so why dude why?

When I want to get high I go to states where it is legal and then I get high, really really high and call it my pot vacation.  I have a good time and I pay cash and keep it legal and go home having had a great time.  If I can do it so can anyone.   The same for gambling or well whatever one does on vacation you respect the boundaries and laws of the location but that is what it is there for.   So I have to say the thrill is the abuse, the control and the crossing the lines.  Great I watched season one of Westworld and said this is abuse and misogyny and why am I watching this?  And I stopped.

Sometimes you can stop and sometimes you need someone to give you that Come to Jesus talk and it is clear for men that no one is willing to do that.  And the richer the better.  And yes it crosses racial lines and age so to say black women are more disposable is disgracing women and children - period. No color lines there when you are raping, drugging or abusing anyone. Sorry the race card is tossed, played and promptly thrown from the deck.  It is about money and fame which has no color line.

When I read Emma Thompson's letter today about her withdrawing from a project due to the company's willing to hire John Lasseter,  I applauded her intellectual reasoning and in turn explanation. I agree, you can work with any one of these men and you can choose how to set the boundaries and expectations and in turn you can elect to not and let people know why.  That is what defines free will.  But Ms. Thompson is also famous and rich and it enables her to do so, the crew and others she mentions are not as privileged. Again privilege is not just owned by white people it is owned by those in positions where they have the money, the fame and/or power in which to move seamlessly in life with little recourse.  Well until you go into a sex parlor that was under a sting operation then maybe not.  Or file fake Police charges and in turn in a city that has Police very defensively about race relations so maybe not that either. Or rape one woman to many.  That too.

This is a larger problem that is about men, their issues regarding sex and their relationships with women.  Watching the Ted Bundy documentary on Netflix reminded me of the time we were enthralled with his story as if a man who is white, attractive and with so much "potential" (whatever that means he failed Law school and had no real career but okay) could rape and murder women and finally it was a young girl that finally stopped this maniac in his tracks.  Gosh how many did he kill that we believe - 18?  At the same time the Green River Killer in the same area was killing Prostitutes and that took decades to solve but then they were largely prostitutes.  The same with the serial killer in California that was finally solved what 30 years later?  How many women? How many?

This is just one of the many letters that need to be written but more importantly read.

Emma Thompson releases blunt letter about why she won’t work with ex-Pixar chief John Lasseter

By Michael Cavna
The Washington Post
February 26 2019

Last week, the news became public that Emma Thompson was departing a film project at Skydance Animation because the studio had hired John Lasseter. Now Thompson is publicly posing questions about why she believes Lasseter’s presence there is problematic — and why she won’t work with him on the animated movie “Luck.”

In her letter last month to Skydance, which was published Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times, Thompson wrote: “It feels very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Mr. Lasseter’s pattern of misconduct given the present climate in which people with the kind of power that you have can reasonably be expected to step up to the plate.”

Lasseter, the former creative chief of Pixar and Disney Animation, began leading Skydance last month, immediately after retiring from Disney/Pixar in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal in which employees accused him of inappropriate contact.

He has admitted to professional “missteps” in his behavior without specifically acknowledging the allegations.

Last month, Skydance Media chief executive David Ellison referred to Lasseter’s past actions as “mistakes” and told workers that Lasseter had promised to “comport himself” professionally. In hiring Lasseter, Ellison called the Pixar co-founder and “Toy Story” director “a singular creative and executive talent whose impact on the animation industry cannot be overstated.”

In her letter, Thompson, who worked with Lasseter seven years ago on the Pixar film “Brave,” writes: “If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave ‘professionally’?”

Thompson expressed regret for stepping away from working with “Luck” director Alessandro Carloni, who has worked on such blockbuster animated franchises as “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

A representative for Thompson told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the Oscar-winning actress-writer hopes her letter can have a ripple effect, stirring further conversation within Hollywood in the #MeToo climate.

Melissa Silverstein, founder of the website, which promotes gender equality and inclusivity in the entertainment industry, told The Post that she “can’t convey the gravity” of Thompson’s letter and its potential impact.

“What she has done is put a line in the sand,” said Silverstein, who called the letter a “rallying cry."‘

Thompson, she adds, is using the privilege of her power not only to leave “Luck” but also to pose “the questions we need to be asking” about such issues as workplace safety, career protection and freedom from harassment.

Skydance declined to comment on Thompson’s letter.

The announcement of Lasseter’s hiring led to a long town hall meeting between concerned Skydance employees and Lasseter, who reportedly fielded tough questions. Following the backlash to Lasseter’s hiring, Skydance Animation production head Holly Edwards was promoted to president.

Thompson’s departure and letter are the most visible indications that Skydance may face ramifications over the hire.

Here is Thompson’s letter to Skydance in full:

As you know, I have pulled out of the production of “Luck” — to be directed by the very wonderful Alessandro Carloni. It feels very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Mr. Lasseter’s pattern of misconduct given the present climate in which people with the kind of power that you have can reasonably be expected to step up to the plate.

I realise that the situation — involving as it does many human beings — is complicated. However these are the questions I would like to ask:

If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave “professionally”?

If a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades, why should the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them is anything other than an act that he’s required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement? The message seems to be, “I am learning to feel respect for women so please be patient while I work on it. It’s not easy.” 

Much has been said about giving John Lasseter a “second chance.” But he is presumably being paid millions of dollars to receive that second chance. How much money are the employees at Skydance being paid to GIVE him that second chance?

If John Lasseter started his own company, then every employee would have been given the opportunity to choose whether or not to give him a second chance. But any Skydance employees who don’t want to give him a second chance have to stay and be uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldn’t it be John Lasseter who has to lose HIS job if the employees don’t want to give him a second chance?

Skydance has revealed that no women received settlements from Pixar or Disney as a result of being harassed by John Lasseter. But given all the abuse that’s been heaped on women who have come forward to make accusations against powerful men, do we really think that no settlements means that there was no harassment or no hostile work environment? Are we supposed to feel comforted that women who feel that their careers were derailed by working for Lasseter DIDN’T receive money?

I hope these queries make the level of my discomfort understandable. I regret having to step away because I love Alessandro so much and think he is an incredibly creative director. But I can only do what feels right during these difficult times of transition and collective consciousness raising.

I am well aware that centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies whether they like it or not is not going to change overnight. Or in a year. But I am also aware that if people who have spoken out — like me — do not take this sort of a stand then things are very unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughter’s generation.

Yours most sincerely,

Emma Thompson

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Bend Over and Cough

We are pretty much at the same place when it comes to medicine so why anyone would believe Physicians give a flying fuck about anyone regardless of race clearly has never actually seen a Doctor.

The rising flow of exploitation and fraud in Medicare is one flag, the closing of rural hospitals another. Then there are the massive consolidations of Insurance companies and medical providers a big flag.  Mergers, check!The fight over ACA versus Medicare for All is leading us all to debate the role of insurance in determining care. Then we have the States and their Medicaid fuck ups and largely in States that have larger percent of residents in poverty and in turn faces of color.  Lastly we have the reality that Medicine is one giant fuck hole where you are screwed but never get a turn to cum.  Yes this is American medicine at its finest.

When it comes to care there are racial discrepancies that will require an new version of The Green Book to ensure faces of color can get treatment.  Include Gender, Age, Income, and Sexuality. That is going to be a hell of a big book.

Doctors and Racial Bias: Still a Long Way to Go

It would be easy to look at a photo from the 1980s and conclude that things have changed. Many have not.

By Aaron E. Carroll
New York Times
Feb. 25, 2019

The racist photo in the medical school yearbook page of Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia has probably caused many physicians to re-examine their past.

We hope we are better today, but the research is not as encouraging as you might think: There is still a long way to go in how the medical field treats minority patients, especially African-Americans.

A systematic review published in Academic Emergency Medicine gathered all the research on physicians that measured implicit bias with the Implicit Association Test and included some assessment of clinical decision making. Most of the nine studies used vignettes to test what physicians would do in certain situations.

The majority of studies found an implicit preference for white patients, especially among white physicians. Two found a relationship between this bias and clinical decision making. One found that this bias was associated with a greater chance that whites would be treated for myocardial infarction than African-Americans.

This study was published in 2017.

The Implicit Association Test has its flaws. Although its authors maintain that it measures external influences, it’s not clear how well it predicts individual behavior. Another, bigger systematic review of implicit bias in health care professionals was published in BMC Ethics, also in 2017. The researchers gathered 42 studies, only 15 of which used the Implicit Association Test, and concluded that physicians are just like everyone else. Their biases are consistent with those of the general population.

The researchers also cautioned that these biases are likely to affect diagnosis and care.

A study published three years earlier in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine surveyed 543 internal medicine and family physicians who had been presented with vignettes of patients with severe osteoarthritis. The survey asked the doctors about the medical cooperativeness of the patients, and whether they would recommend a total knee replacement.

Even though the descriptions of the cases were identical except for the race of the patients (African-Americans and whites), participants reported that they believed the white patients were being more medically cooperative than the African-American ones. These beliefs did not translate into different treatment recommendations in this study, but they were clearly there.

In 2003, the Institute of Medicine released a landmark report on disparities in health care. The evidence for their existence was enormous. The research available at that time showed that even after controlling for socioeconomic factors, disparities remained.

There’s significant literature documenting that African-American patients are treated differently than white patients when it comes to cardiovascular procedures. There were differences in whether they received optimal care with respect to a cancer diagnosis and treatment. African-Americans were less likely to receive appropriate care when they were infected with H.I.V. They were also more likely to die from these illnesses even after adjusting for age, sex, insurance, education and the severity of the disease.

Disparities existed for patients with diabetes, kidney disease, mental health problems, and for those who were pregnant or were children.

The report cited some systems-level factors that contributed to this problem. Good care may be unavailable in some poor neighborhoods, and easily obtained in others. Differences in insurance access and coverage can also vary by race.

But the report’s authors spent much more time on issues at the level of care, in which some physicians treated patients differently based on their race.

Physicians sometimes had a harder time making accurate diagnoses because they seemed to be worse at reading the signals from minority patients, perhaps because of cultural or language barriers. Then there were beliefs that physicians already held about the behavior of minorities. You could call these stereotypes, like believing that minority patients wouldn’t comply with recommended changes.

Of course, there’s the issue of mistrust on the patient side. African-American patients have good reason to mistrust the health care system; the infamous Tuskegee Study is just one example.

In its report, the Institute of Medicine recommended strengthening health plans so that minorities were not disproportionately denied access. It urged that more underrepresented minorities be trained as health care professionals, and that more resources be directed toward enforcing civil rights laws.

In practice, it endorsed more evidence-based care across the board. It noted the importance of interpreters, community health workers, patient education programs and cross-cultural education for those who care for patients.

In 2017, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality issued its 15th yearly report on health care quality and disparities, as called for by the medical institute in 2002. It found that while some disparities had gotten better, many remained. The most recent data available showed that 40 percent of the quality measures were still worse for blacks than whites. Other groups fared worse as well. Measures were worse for 20 percent of Asian-Americans, 30 percent of Native Americans, and one third of Pacific Islanders and Hispanics.

Of the 21 access measures tracked from 2000 to 2016, nine were improving. Nine were unchanged. Three were worsening.

It would be easy to look at a racist photo from the 1980s and conclude that it was a different time and that things have changed. Many things have not. We know that racism, explicit and implicit, was pervasive in medical care back then. Many studies show that it’s still pervasive today. The recommendations from the medical institute in 2003 still hold. Any fair assessment of the evidence suggests much work remains to be done.

And with regards to that I want to point out that this American flag runs with many colors and we are not a two color nation by any stretch. I also question treatment with regards to gender, sexuality and particularly for those transgendered.  So please lets not just be so black and white.

With the end of mandatory coverage removed expect the costs of premiums to rise.  I plan on canceling my policy once the last of my dental work is done.  I have no interest in spending 700 bucks plus a month for something I don't use and if I need it I will hit the charity roles and frankly I have no reason to pay for something that I find utterly absurd and abusive.

Covering Pre-existing Conditions Isn’t Enough

Too often, even patients who have coverage can’t afford their medications.

By Douglas Jacobs\Dr. Jacobs is an internal medicine resident.
The New York Times\Opinion
Feb. 25, 2019

When patients enroll in health insurance, they are often met with a stark reality: Even with insurance, they can’t afford their treatment. With the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions in limbo once again, it’s important to remember that those with such conditions need more than health insurance. They also need to be protected from discriminatory pricing so that they can afford the medications they need.

In 2015 I published a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine that detailed how some insurers were raising costs for H.I.V. medicines to dissuade H.I.V.-positive people from selecting their plans. Insurers frequently raise the price of certain medicines to encourage people to select cheaper alternatives, but these insurers raised the cost of every single H.I.V. medicine — leaving many enrollees with no affordable options.

The difference for someone with a pre-existing condition like H.I.V. was staggering (in some cases more than $10,000 annually for H.I.V. medicines in one plan compared with less than $1,000 in another). This practice was later recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services as a form of discrimination by insurers.

Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies and insurers are still getting away with raising their prices in a way that has a disparate impact on those with pre-existing conditions. A 2019 report by Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation found that some insurers continue to price all recommended H.I.V. regimens in a way that makes them prohibitively expensive. In Georgia, for example, three out of the four insurers place all recommended H.I.V. regimens on the most expensive tiers (costing more than $1,000 a month) or do not cover them at all.

As another example, the high price of hepatitis C medicines set by pharmaceutical companies caused many state Medicaid programs to institute discriminatory prior authorization requirements. Those requirements effectively barred people who had a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder and had not refrained from drinking for a specified period of time from treatment — even though we know that hepatitis C medicines are just as successful in people who drink alcohol.

In many cases, this administration has made matters worse. With the repeal of the A.C.A.’s individual mandate by the 2017 tax bill, healthy individuals can forgo insurance altogether, causing premiums to rise for everyone else. The Trump administration also made it easier to establish association health plans and short-term plans (often referred to collectively as “junk health plans” because they aren’t required to cover many services). This forces those with pre-existing conditions to either stay in their A.C.A. plan and see their premiums rise as healthy individuals move to junk insurance because it’s cheaper, or sign up for a junk plan and risk extreme charges when services they need are not covered.

While some association health plans have received positive press, these kinds of plans are notorious for cherry-picking healthy enrollees and even committing fraud. As for short-term plans, they are simply denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions altogether.

Fortunately, with the shutdown finally over, both sides of Congress are getting to legislating, and an issue that both Republicans and Democrats campaigned on is the protection of those with pre-existing conditions. Safeguarding the A.C.A. — by supporting its existence and by eliminating the threat of junk insurance — is a first step.

But protection also means making sure that those who have pre-existing conditions can afford plans that cover the medications they need, which requires instituting policies aimed at both insurers and pharmaceutical companies. After all, what a consumer pays for a medicine is a mix of the price set by a pharmaceutical company, the cost assigned to the drug by the insurer and countless negotiations among pharmaceutical companies, insurers and the pharmacy benefit managers that serve as middlemen.

Accordingly, the administration’s announcement to tie Medicare Part B drug prices to an international drug-pricing index should be lauded and expedited. National policymakers should also emulate California, which will band together all state entities into a single purchaser of drugs, adding leverage to efforts to negotiate down drug prices. They could combine federal employee health benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Tricare (the health program for uniformed service members) and other public purchasers into the largest single purchaser of drugs our nation has ever seen, one with enormous leverage to reduce drug costs. And with prices lowered, they should require insurers to keep medications affordable.

Obviously, protecting the A.C.A. comes first. But to provide meaningful protections to people with pre-existing conditions, we need to go further. Lowering the cost of drugs achieves the same end: access to care for those who need it most

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Say Yes

That is the word to the dress, to the request to marry, to the demand for sex when it comes to the communication skills between men and women. Men complain that women want to talk about their feelings and women complain that men don't share theirs.  This argument is as old as time and as I am as old as time I am pretty much done with it all.

I wrote my post yesterday, Not Me, because I am sick of the MeToo movement and in turn am fairly certain it will go the way of those that have preceded it so thankfully I did not invest in a pin, a ribbon, a bracelet or anything that indicates I cared for a moment knowing that it will go nowhere sooner that later.  The real problem is that no clear leadership emerges with a distinct face and voice willing to take the heat, the hate and the reality of the challenges of fronting a significant demand for change that is not just legal but a moral one.  You know like the Civil Rights Movement.

Then today I open up the New York Times and sure enough I may be done with MeToo but it not with me.  I have Peggy Orenstein's book and loved it as I have taught girls over the years and only once early in my career did a young girl share with me her first sexual experience.  After it was over I chose to ask her if she had told anyone this story and she had not.  Under the law I was to report it to my Principal and I knew immediately that Gloria Izard-Baldwin was the last person I would share it with.  She was a Bitch and an Idiot and I did not know her other than those impressions so that would put me at risk.  (Hey if one thing I can assess people and I actually now act on them at the time I debated but yep I was right. It was the times I failed to do so I was nearly killed so once again never second guessing myself again.)  I left the end of the school year and in turn Gloria was given a vote of confidence the next year and packed her kit to go to retirement or wherever bad Principals go.  She was the first in a long line of them and frankly this issue is not something that needs a chain of command and here in Nashville this horror story is one I have seen on a continual loop here so nothing changes.

But what I did tell her to do was go home take her Mother aside and without emotion tell her what she told me and then to come to me and tell me the next day the result of that exchange.  Her Mother called the Police but whatever her Mother decided to do I supported and in turn I told her that she must also respect that decision. It worked out but from that point on I made sure I told Students to never share with me anything that they felt was a violation of the law as I was/am obligated to pass it on.  They did not know it meant the Principal and if they were a moron it went no further but it took me out of that loop and that frankly was what mattered.  I had to sleep at night.

When I read this opinion piece I was not shocked I was relieved. It again proved that I was right when I said that without conversation there is no trust and without trust there is no sex, consensual or otherwise.  Again the man with the robe that flies open is and idiot but the man who throws a woman down and refuses to listen to her and coerces her is a rapist. They are two different animals. And they are, however, both animals, not men.

It’s Not That Men Don’t Know What Consent Is

They often understand that what they’re doing is wrong — then they do it anyway.

By Peggy Orenstein
The New York Times Opinion
Ms. Orenstein is writing a book about young men, masculinity, emotional intimacy and sex.

Feb. 23, 2019

“Think of a bear.”

Shafia Zaloom, a health teacher in San Francisco, stood in front of her 10th grade sex ed class. It was the first day of the spring term and “bear,” at least when it was spelled that way, was not what the students expected to discuss.

Once their ursine images were firmly in place, Ms. Zaloom asked for descriptions. One student had pictured a grizzly; another was thinking about a black bear cub; there were polar bears and gummy bears. Personally, I had imagined Yogi. The point, Ms. Zaloom said, is that in a sexual situation, you can’t make assumptions.

I think about those bears every time yet another allegation of sexual misconduct against yet another powerful man becomes public. Nearly all of those men deny coercion or aggression or insist that the encounters were “100 percent consensual.”

But rarely do they define what, precisely, they mean by that. Did they discuss, with an enthusiastic partner, which erotic acts to indulge in together? Or were they satisfied that whatever they initiated was fine as long as she didn’t say no? Did they consider passionate kissing a tacit contract for something else? Was forced sex — say, the pushing down of a partner’s head — fair game because lots of guys do it? Did they consider sex with underlings acceptable, or a fair swap for career advancement, in which case they were apparently thinking of koalas, which are not actually bears at all?


The truth is, men are not the most reliable arbiters of whether sex was consensual. Consider: When Nicole Bedera, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan, interviewed male college students in 2015, each could articulate at least a rudimentary definition of the concept: the idea that both parties wanted to be doing what they were doing. Most also endorsed the current “yes means yes” standard, which requires active, conscious, continuous and freely given agreement by all parties engaging in sexual activity. Yet when asked to describe their own most recent encounters in both a hookup and in a relationship, even men who claimed to practice affirmative consent often had not.

When they realized that their actions conflicted with that benchmark, though, they expanded their definition of consent rather than question their conduct. Their ideas of “yes” were so elastic that for some they encompassed behavior that met the legal criteria for assault — such as the guy who had coerced his girlfriend into anal sex (she had said, “I don’t want to, but I guess I’ll let you”). She then made it clear that he should stop. “He did, eventually,” Ms. Bedera told me, “and he seemed aware of how upset she was, but he found a way to rationalize it: He was angry with her for refusing him because he thought a real man shouldn’t have had to beg for sex.”

Despite all evidence to the contrary, we still want to believe that men who are accused of sexual assault are all “monsters.” True, some of them may be monsters we know — our employers, our clergymen, our favorite celebrities, our politicians, our Supreme Court justices — but they are “monsters” nonetheless.

A “good guy” can’t possibly have committed assault, regardless of the mental gymnastics he has to engage in to convince himself of that (“20 minutes of action,” anyone?). Even men who admit to keeping sex slaves in conflict zones will claim they did not commit rape — it’s that other guy, that “monster” over there, that “bad guy” who did. In fact, one of the traits rapists have been found to reliably share is that they don’t believe they are the problem.

In my own interviews with high school and college students conducted over the past two years, young men that I like enormously — friendly, thoughtful, bright, engaging young men — have “sort of” raped girls, have pushed women’s heads down to get oral sex, have taken a Snapchat video of a prom date performing oral sex and sent it to the baseball team. They all described themselves as “good guys.” But the fact is, a “really good guy” can do a really bad thing.

Young men’s ability to understand sexual refusal has been shown to be remarkably sophisticated and subtle, regardless of whether the word “no” is actually uttered; that renders dubious the common defense that they “can’t tell” or “aren’t mind readers.” What’s more, where “yes” is concerned, guys seem downright clairvoyant: They routinely over-perceive a woman’s interest in having sex with them, even more so if the men have been drinking.

In 2016, for instance, researchers at Confi, an online resource dedicated to women’s health issues, asked 1,200 college students and recent graduates nationwide what they would “expect to happen next” if they went home with someone whom they’d met and danced with at a party. Forty-five percent of the men considered vaginal intercourse “likely”; only 30 percent of the women did. The figures were similarly skewed for oral sex. Additionally, one in four men believed women “usually have to be convinced” in order for sex to happen (only about a tenth of the women agreed).

Not only are those perception gaps a setup for assault, but also for men’s subsequent denials of responsibility and, quite possibly, claims of false accusation. According to the same survey, men found the actions of a “tipsy” guy “much more acceptable” than a sober one, meaning they let themselves off the hook for potential sexual aggression, even as female assault victims who drink are blamed.

Sometimes, boys I talk to acknowledge having willfully crossed lines. One college sophomore had repeatedly ignored his partner’s hesitation during a hookup, despite his own professed scrupulousness about consent.

“I suppose there was something in the back of my head that I wasn’t fully listening to,” he admitted. “I guess when you’ve been flirting with someone the whole evening and you feel close to what you’ve been wanting to happen, it’s difficult to put on the brakes. And — I don’t know. I was enjoying myself. I was having what in the moment was a positive sexual experience. I think I just wanted to. Which is scary.”

And that may be the crux of it. Young men still too often learn to prioritize their pleasure over women’s feelings, to interpret a partner’s behavior through the lens of their own wishes. Their claims of “miscommunication,” Ms. Bedera concluded in her research on college men, may actually be part of “an expectation that they control both partners’ narratives about desire and consent.”

All of which would indicate that in these high-profile cases, women’s accusations are inherently more credible than male denial, regardless of how vehement that denial may be. It also means that despite the new standards that have been put in place and despite all the editorials and news articles and calls for change, we are still not doing what needs to be done: fully educating boys not only about the importance of consensual, ethical, mutually pleasurable sexuality, but about the ways their own sense of entitlement may blind them to those values, leading them to cause harm, whether or not they choose to see it.

Not Me

This weekend marks the Oscars and the 71 year old Glenn Close seems to have a lock on her more youthful counterparts and if one has not see The Wife one should as it is a fascinating look at marriage and being a woman who comes of age in time of change for women but not of women. The other film The Favourite seems to be the cause du jour about women in power but they only prove what we have already come to believe, that women are all secretly Lesbians, manipulative and catty with other women they view as threats.  I hated it not all of it but a lot of it.  The film that I felt best captured being a woman of a certain age in a certain time was Can You Ever Forgive Me.  I felt that while I was very much alive in that time Lee Israel was not someone on my radar and not one on many people's radars.  She seem very interested in the stories of women told by women and perhaps that is why her career faltered.  The story continual emphasizes her age, 51 at that time in the early 90s, and her inability to connect to a more mainstream society and play a role that writers must and women certainly must in which to be a success. Literally her partner-in-crime, a Gay misfit who seems homeless and equally criminal in behavior shows that those on the fringe are those who often most pay the price for their sins unless they are stories that can be told on the screen long after they are gone and then we can forgive them.  Some of Bohemian Rhapsody addresses that but for some it was not enough but frankly it was about the band, Queen, and not the Queen of a Singer who led them forward to fame and fortune.  That is another movie for another time to be told.

Stories that are told are told in that time, with that frame of reference and perspective of the narrator and in turn the listeners are often participants, the background to the foreground of who is telling the story.   And we know that when there are many eyewitnesses a story will be told from all those eyes and all of those eyes are telling their "truth" be that as what they recall, what they saw and their ability to tell the story in a way that makes them heard.

This weekend as the Jussie Smollett story played out there was a lot of outrage and of course frustration not for Jussie but for the shame that his story enabled others to connect and of course disconnect as the truth was told.  We still have not heard the story from the primary narrator and maybe in a few years he too will ask for forgiveness and share his truth. 

I was listening to Bill Maher on his show and his comment regarding this was prescient that we demand we believe any victim but that is not always the truth.  We must, however, listen to each victim and enable the truth be told over time and be patient to hear all the stories of the narrators so to make a conclusion on the truth.  I had my story of 2012 and no one believed me at the time and I have never gone back to any of them to ask them if they do now given what we are hearing repeatedly on the news about sexual power, dynamics, rape and assault.  And no they are not the same and should not be treated in the same way.  Some are crimes and some are just bad acts that veer on criminal but are not crimes.  We have if one thing over-lawed ourselves with laws after laws that in the long run do not serve the intent they were written and we have seen that with some sexual activity especially with regards to listing on sexual preadator lists and arrests.  The 19 year old boy who sexts his 16 y/o girlfriend needs a talking too and that come to Jesus moment with the families but no not an arrest and not certainly being listed on a sexual predator list for life.    This goes the same for the owner of the Patriots, Robert Kraft.   Bad form, bad judgment and frankly bizarre but the man sought sexual gratification and perhaps committed some crime but the owners of the spa and their management and treatment of these women are the real criminals.  Again perspective and a sense of understanding which takes time. 

I have said repeatedly that sexual encounters are less about consent but more about conversation and frankly we don't have those "talks" with anyone we are about to get busy with and that is why I suspect many sexual encounters are just not good, not satisfying and lead to aggression, confusion and pain.  I have been the "victim" of many said encounters and the night of 2012 I never knew what could have happened to me but I often say that the car accident stopped that from happening and may have in some backward way saved my life.   He was not the first man I had sex with in my life that was largely one sited and utterly empty, he was, however,  the last.  There were two other times since where I had idiotic,  frustrated and pathetic sexual encounters largely to see if I could possibly engage in that way with men and they taught me the reality is that no I cannot.  For me to learn how to do that would require too much time, energy and money to really change something that no longer mattered to me.  I miss companionship and I would love a friendship free of the sexual obligations that a male-female one demands so for now I stick to myself and find that sex is just orgasm and you can DIY that.

The weekend brought more attention to the #MeToo movement as the President of all of eight months suddenly resigned for "personal" reasons. Those reasons were that her son is now having one of those moments too. 

The emergence and return of many of the perpetrators of the horrific stories of bad behavior and sexual misconduct are back to work or at least trying to and to that I say go ahead you have to make a living and here is a very short leash in which to do it.  To those working with these individuals well Que Sera Sera or Caveat Empteor and hell at least you know this one is nuts so you can work around it.   Again do we want everyone labeled and relegated to a trailer park somewhere and on a list to isolate and in turn demonize without the possibility of redemption.

This weekend saw the Church attempt to do that and those who were victimized seem to have little hope but to any future possible victims, aka members of the Church, you do know so you can just do whatever you need to to change your behavior and relationship to the Church. Attend services, volunteer but limit your contact and watch them for the signs and symptoms of what defines a predator and in turn LISTEN to all the narrators and their stories to understand and find the truth that is the basis of Christianity after all.

As for R. Kelly this was 20 years in the making. Twenty years he preyed on young women and was tried and acquitted for it so without treatment or without admitting guilt people enabled him and turned their back on what was clearly damaging and sick behavior.  Those who tried to bring attention the issue were castigated and marginalized and dismissed literally from their jobs so  again this proves when no one listens no one hears regardless of the storyteller.

And no not everyone supports this movement nor believes it either and those are women, women of a certain age who came of time in a certain age.  I do think that many women, myself included, thought they were dating a powerful man with equal interest and desire and no that is not true in the least but the belief of that is what prevents the rage and sadness to face that truth.  For men having many women in their lives it was defines them it is how they have them that defines what type of relationship it is.  And for many women that truth is also linked to an obligation, a duty and responsibility and we are all guilty of not having our best interests aligned with our partners when we engage in a relationship.  As my Mother used to say, "It's easy to marry a rich man as a poor one" and true economic security is a high factor in finding a match but it is not always the best nor only reason in which to do so.

I watched CBS Sunday Morning and the profile was on Angie Dickinson who was a woman of my era and her feisty performances were always one that to me showed a sharp woman who of course was clearly feminine.   She was married to Burt Bacharach and he was truly one of our favorites in our home during those years.   She admitted he did not love her and was not good to her and left it at that.  She does not support the MeToo movement and is right when she said, "An open robe is not a rape."  I suspect Ms. Dickinson saw many an open robe and in turn what you chose to do with that is your business and yours alone.  Sarah Silverman has come out to support Louis CK and to admit that he masturbated in her presence many times and she allowed it.  Again one woman's abuse is another woman's ignorance.  That is sex in reality, one man or woman's pain is another pleasure.  Hello kink!

Then I read this article about Dolly Parton who had been profiled the week before on CBS with the upcoming Grammy's.  I don't like her but love her songwriting.  The last year her Publicist was mentioned as a MeToo problem with the gay community in Nashville, he has since also re-emerged with a new company.  Dolly has definitely rejected any sense of the concept of Feminism while taking full advantage of being a female run industry of her own making.  He song publishing rights are quite significant and this girl from Pigeon Hollow is not an idiot despite the pretense and that is what it is a pretense.  I am bored with it in the same way I would find Minnie Pearl a bore today.  There is a similar character on the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and she too did not want the rubes to know how she really lived and behaved as it would hurt her financial interests but at some point does it matter?  I mean really do you watch every Kevin Spacey movie going: Wow that guy fucked a lot of teenagers we need to burn these movies.  Or hey can we just watch it and not think about what a fucking asshole he is.  Same goes with Ryan Adams,  I never listened to anything but 1989 and I promptly dumped it as it just did not interest me anymore and frankly what more excuse do I need. That said I never listened to R. Kelly and now have no reason. But folks the Finding Neverland documentary comes out on HBO in two weeks and that despite knowing all of this does make me once again wonder about why no one stopped/helped Michael Jackson and me not listening to him now does little to change that as he is very dead largely due to drugs he used to control pain. Pain I think less about the body and more about the mind.

I respect those who admit their failings, find their truth and try to reconcile what they have done and more importantly not done to change their behavior and in turn repair those relationships that they damaged.   I can never forgive the two Lawyers who failed to help me, Ted Vosk and Kevin Trombold, did more damage to me than my date the night of 2/8/12 ever did.  I don't forgive him nor need to as he has never asked nor admitted to me that he drugged me that night and poured alcohol down my throat to do what?  I don't know and never will but I know he was there as the witness with his eyes saw a man walk up to my car, open the passenger side and reach in and go, "She is still breathing" and walk off into the night.  The description matched and later when I read of rapes in the same area with similar descriptions and similar car he drove at the time I thought he had graduated on to bigger and better.   Again I have nothing to forgive as one believed me nor heard me at the time and I have no reason to today to change that if someone chose me to be the listener.

We choose our behavior and more importantly we choose how to respond to others.  Free will and all that.   I have my will and my ways and I believe in first do no harm. Funny Doctors have that as their oath and yet they seem to fail to do that all the time. So who do you believe?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Other Wall

There has always been a wall in America between the have and the have nots, those who live in vibrant cities with economic diversity, high educational rates and of course largely liberal populations with even more personal diversity that everyone secretly aspires and hates at the same time. Seattle is one, San Francisco and the Bay Area another and of course New York City.  I recall growing up New York City was the city of evil and aspiration and if you could make it there you could make it anywhere but in my house no one ever aspired to go to New York.  We went to Los Angeles and San Francisco and for us foreign travel was Vancouver Canada.  Our home was full of exotic people from all across the globe and as my Mother was Australian we had plenty visitors from Down Under and many ended up living in America and we visited them. 

Growing up my life was the West Coast with a brief stopover in Texas and then I went to New York City and I fell in love at first sight and I fell hard.   I think endlessly about New York City and cannot wait to get back there ride the dirty crowded subways, push along the streets and just walk from one area to the other.  When I visit I try to stay in a different area each time to get to know the varying geographic hoods and I can assure you that even that is not enough as there are many side streets and avenues the deserve investigation and exploration.   That is a city to me and I want to make it there in whatever sense that means.  That is where I want to write my final chapter and I feel that the ones that precede them however, will be worth it as life is for the living.

I came to Nashville knowing nothing other than what the New York Times told me when it declared Nashville an "it" city.  Not the first time the paper has misinformed and misled me but like all bitches she the gray lady is a tough one and I forgive her every time. 

Nashville is a dump and in reality the WalletHub report that decided Tennessee was the most angry and hateful of the states they listed in their sinful list I agreed.  The anger and hostility here is aligned largely with the obsession with religion and in turn the monetary focus that is derived from this and the home of the prosperity pulpit.  Even the sub reddit community is full of the same nuts who blame outsiders and transplants for ruining what before we arrived was a shithole but it was theirs and they could wallow in it without interruption.   True here the word hypocrisy has an entirely different meaning but then again you would not be able to have the locals define it as it would require the ability to spell it and again that is another list Tennessee is proud to be on - the least educated.  Hey they brag about that too as they are above Mississippi.  Seriously these people are what I used to call terminal idiots - functionally retarded.

The sheer level of stupidity is often centered around money and the reality is that the average and median wage here are actually quite close. The average wage is 45-47K with the median 63 in Nashville with it 53K state wide.  That would be largely due to the State and Federal offices in Nashville, with a large portion of Hospitals and major Colleges that disproportionately skew wages upwards.   That Nashville's actual larger percentage of employment is in the hospitality industry explains why the average wage is less.

Understanding math is like reading here and well that explains that but this is from the Bureau of Labor and it breaks down the actual income variations across occupations and here in Tennessee we are still lower than the national average

Occupational Employment and Wages in Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin – May 2017

Workers in the Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $22.65 in May 2017, about 7 percent below the nationwide average of $24.34, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were lower than their respective national averages in 16 of the 22 major occupational groups, including life, physical, and social science; construction and extraction; and architecture and engineering. One group—farming, fishing, and forestry—had a significantly higher wage than its respective national average.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 8 of the 22 occupational groups, including production; office and administrative support; and management. Conversely, 13 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including education, training, and library; personal care and service; and construction and extraction.

So as Nashville wets itself with excitment of the white collar jobs from Alliance Bernstein, Ernst and Young and Amazon with promises of thousands of jobs spread out over the next seven years and all promising an average wage of 150K that would put payroll in this region in the billions of dollars. Really?  Just Amazon alone would put approximately 2000 people (out of 5000 supposed employees) earning over 300 million?  Really that would put the wage structure at 3 times the median across the state thereby the payroll alone would lead to mass chaos as other employers would have to raise wages to compete and in turn the costs of living, the very thing that supposedly drew them here to rise in proportion doing what Amazon did to Seattle over the last few years increasing homelessness, traffic, a collapsing infrastructure and driving diversity out of the city.  Sure but they can do this over seven years and in that time economies change, demands and needs do as well and Amazon is going to fill not one but three headquarters with 55,000 people and all with the average income of a 150K?  Really? 

Amazon made Seattle a company town and yet they are many cities company:
More than a quarter of Amazon's U.S. tech and managerial workers are not based in Seattle. The company has 17 North American tech hubs with a total staff count of at least 17,500, a reflection of the tech expertise that’s grown up in specific areas and the reality that not everyone wants or can live in Seattle. Amazon's New York offices focus on fashion and publishing, for instance, while its Los Angeles hub concentrates on video and gaming.
As of June 2017 Amazon had 45,000 workers in Seattle and 17,500 at its North American tech hubs, a number the company says will rise to more than 26,000 within the next three to five years. Those are what it calls corporate workers, separate from the tens of thousands of lower-paid staff the company employs in what it calls fulfillment, at its dozens of warehouses across North America.
Worldwide, Amazon employs 575,700, a 51 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago. In the United States, it employs more than 200,000.  
That makes it one of the larger private employers in the country.   Apple has about 130,000 employees worldwide, 80,000 in the United States and 30,000 in Silicon Valley. Microsoft has 131,000, 77,829 in the United States and 48,764 in the greater Seattle area. Google employs more than 89,000.
The largest tech hub outside Seattle is the San Francisco Bay area, where 6,000 corporate staffers work. That includes offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto (home to Stanford University), Cupertino (home to Apple) and Sunnyvale.
Amazon's Boston hub is growing — executives predict its tech and managerial workers will increase to at least 3,200 in the next five years. Most of those tech jobs pay more than $100,000, according to And Boston is far from the only city where Amazon's footprint has quietly expanded.
Next on the list is the Washington, D.C., area, which has 2,500 Amazon corporate staff. And then New York City, which has 1,800 and which Amazon says will ratchet up to 3,800 within five years.
 So when you realize that this bullshit over building a major HQ2 was just that as Amazon was there all along but to get further tax incentives and other bullshit such as a helipad this enabled Amazon to play games and manipulate Government bureaucrats who care little about the long term it is the immediate that matters.     Apple and Google have quietly expanded across the country and with far less fanfare and tax breaks so what is the real reason other than power and domination.   And that includes the world:
The decentralization of Amazon's high-tech workforce is happening across tech, at companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook — but it's particularly pronounced at Amazon. 
Upwards of 28 percent of Amazon's corporate staff in North America work hundreds and often thousands of miles from its soggy Seattle home. And it’s not confined to the United States and Canada. Amazon has 17 smaller tech hubs across Europe, as well as one in Israel, another in Johannesburg, four in India, one in Japan and one in China.

And all of this seems to be another irony as the actual numbers of employees across Amazon is declining while openings are now on the upswing it may be as the turnover for the company is another well known secret and may contribute to some of these numbers.

So all the histrionics about Amazon and their Queen campus is just that histrionics besides it leaves the space available now as the future home of the Trump Presidential Library. As Trump likes to piss on real billionaires he can take the space turn it into his mega dick worship place as former Presidents do and he is ironically from Queens so perfect!  I figure it would take an hour tops to tour the place and see all 15 of the Executive and Emergency Orders signed during his Presidency than cross the river to see Hamilton about a real Politician with real skills.

What New York City did was actually stand up to Corporate greed and the bullshit of corporate welfare given over in tax incentives.   Amazon certainly doesn't need those as they have failed to pay federal taxes for the past two years so they are not hurting for cash.
 Amazon will pay $0 in federal income taxes for the second year in a row. Amazon, which doubled its profits and made more than $11 billion in 2018, won't pay any federal income taxes for the second year in a row, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported on Wednesday.

I do believe that Amazon will fit right as they are equal to and no less Massholes (where they have a massive tech center in Boston) and that character is one they will find a home here. Add the lust and greed and yep its a strike three.  The reality is that Nashville is an ill suited place for those who like a liberal progressive background in which to pursue the play over the work and frankly Broadway will be boring as shit after a week of Bachelorettes and drunk Cowboys to fuck with and by fuck with I mean that in every sense of the word.  This is a stop over tour place and if you live here be ready to be stupid here as that is the reality of middle America.  The resentment and frustration over decades of being ignored has not been forgotten.  Fuck the Berlin Wall the economic sanction law has finally broken that down by making laws that makes it illegal to unionize aka "the right to work" and the perennial low wages from having poorly educated, ill trained and largely minority workforce and the onslaught of largely foreign money. (Hmm hows those tariffs working out?)    Sharecropping, Indentured Servitude and Slavery has become the migrant/undocumented workforce.  The South shall rise again bitches! If Bezos wanted world domination take a look at the forgotten states, like Mississippi or Ohio and realize that they have been raped before and like all war torn regions are willing to sell out to get their share too. Ah no fucking way who wants to live there, amiright?  

New York's dance with Amazon shows us how to fight for a city's future

By rejecting the logic that cities should bend over backwards to welcome corporations, New Yorkers asserted a principle that has long been lacking

Samuel Stein
Sat 23 Feb 2019
The Guardian

Between November 2018 and February 2019, the world’s biggest corporation (Amazon) and the US’s biggest city (New York) staged a bizarre, absurd and frequently infuriating public spectacle.

In just three months, all of the following happened: Amazon announced they had selected New York as a location for one of their two new headquarters; the deal they struck with the city and state of New York was announced; groups representing workers, tenants and immigrants organized furiously against Amazon, while the mayor, the governor and the deal’s supporters scrambled to defend it; several key politicians – most of whom had previously encouraged Amazon to come to New York – turned hostile to the company; and then, with no notice and little fanfare, Amazon announced they were no longer pursuing New York for their corporate headquarters. The opponents had won, and Amazon was sent packing.

For the past few days, New Yorkers have been celebrating or seething, depending on their position, and debating with one another about what just happened and what it all meant. Clearly, this was not just a one-off fight between an obnoxious billionaire and a pissed off populous. New York’s dizzying dance with Amazon tells us a lot about the state of urban politics in the United States, and the kind of fights we need to engage in if we want to alter the balance of corporate and people’s power.

Much has been made of the fact that the US’ federal system allowed Amazon to host a competition for cities across the country to race to the bottom in order to prove they would offer the company generous subsidies, extensive tax breaks and lax regulations. This is, indeed, a travesty that should be addressed legislatively, but it is also a demonstration of the enormous power corporate capital wields in determining cities’ urban planning priorities.

It also displays the shifting economic mix that US planners and policymakers are seeking to attract. Whereas, in the past, cities were accused of “smokestack chasing”, or devising competitive packages to lure factories from one town the next, cities are now engaging in “skyscraper chasing”, or seeking massive investments in real estate (in this case under the auspices of tech industry growth).

Clearly, this was not just a one-off fight between an obnoxious billionaire and a pissed off populous

Around the country, we have witnessed the rise of the real estate state, a faction of government whose interests are always aligned with escalating land and property values. At the municipal level, we see planners presenting gentrification as a public good to be encouraged; at the national level, we witness the election of a luxury developer to our highest office. Amazon sought to capitalize on this frenzy, and rightly predicted that politicians across the country would devise ways to welcome them and the real estate capital they summon.

The particular siting of the proposed New York City Amazon headquarters was telling. Long Island City, Queens, had been the target of planned deindustrialization for over 35 years, with a succession of governors and mayors seeking to displace manufacturing and incentivize a proliferation of bland corporate office and luxury residential developments.

In the 1980s, Mayor Ed Koch and Governor Mario Cuomo – the father of contemporary New York governor and Amazon apologist Andrew Cuomo – turned up the heat by providing a billion-dollar subsidy to a mixed-use development called Hunters Point South. The next mayor, David Dinkins, presented a Waterfront Plan that encouraged a wholesale transformation of the area, and his successor, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, offered generous subsidies for companies such as MetLife to locate there.

The pace of luxury development accelerated rapidly under Mayor Michael Bloomberg after his 2001 rezoning. By luring Amazon to this particular place, Cuomo and the mayor, Bill de Blasio, were building on a long legacy of marginalizing manufacturing and courting gentrification.

Ultimately, however, Bezos, Cuomo and De Blasio failed – they could not secure the consent of the people, who conducted a forceful and multi-fronted battle on the issues of housing costs, labor and immigrant rights, corporate subsidies, infrastructure demands, small business survival, and more. In so doing, the anti-Amazon movement presented an anti-corporate, anti-gentrification mantel for other cities to pick up. In fact, since New Yorkers successfully stood up to Amazon, protests in northern Virginia – Amazon’s other top choice – have intensified.

By rejecting the logic that cities should bend over backwards to welcome gentrifying, union-busting, homogenizing corporations, New Yorkers asserted a principle that has long been lacking in planning: that the public is the rightful steward of a city’s future.

That may sound obvious, but it is a major turnabout from ordinary planning practice, which has tended to privilege the rights of property owners and seek little more than advice and consent from the rest of us. Public stewardship, on the other hand, is the contention that the city is a collective product of residents’ labor –in terms of the material production of streets and buildings, the cultural production of neighborhoods and common spaces, and the social reproduction of residents and workers. The city’s fate belongs with those who made it, not just those who own it.

If cities are products of collective labor, then gentrification, in geographer Ipsita Chatterjee’s phrase, is “the theft of space from labor and its conversion into spaces of profit”. Anti-gentrification movements like the one that scared away Amazon can be understood as part of the long legacy of working class struggle against the alienation of labor by capital. In the classic cases, workers have revolted against bosses for stealing the surplus value they created; here, residents are rising up against developers and politicians for alienating people from the spaces they have built.

The city is an expression of popular will, and that will can be summoned to upturn the plans of those who seek to usurp its labor. This kind of mobilization is key to beating back corporate power and resisting the rise of the real estate state. With Amazon on the run, the time is ripe to renew our push for public stewardship and rethink the purpose of urban planning.

Samuel Stein is a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, and the author of the forthcoming Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate

Friday, February 22, 2019

What a Laugh

I have given up being outraged as at this point it is better to bust out laughing at the sheer level of absurdity that is going on across the world and undoubtedly being debated on cable news as I write this.  We have lost our collective minds and not just here in America but across the globe. 

I rarely watch Cable news unless at the gym and HGTV doesn't have any flipping shows on to distract me. I have seen every episode of Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and others to the point I can actually repeat the faux scripted lines out loud.  But hey while half reading a magazine and trying to burn calories you need a distraction.  The times I do watch I end up burning more than just calories as it was at the Gym I witnessed the bizarre Kayne/Trump meetup and much of the Kavanaugh hearings only to leave to come home and they had started again!   There is only so much in a given day one can be informed and outraged at the same time.

Of late I postpone the newspaper to the next day where the news is officially old but it enables me to look at how it was believed and presented the day before and contrast it to the present.  Fascinating what a day brings.  So as I wind out the week with a day of school closing for flooding I again laughed as it was not raining when I woke up and the heavy rains have not begun so why this was closed was again like the day of snow, which did not happen, but a day later the freezing temps warranted as such but the Director burned once twice shy.  Again what a day brings but at least this is a Friday.

This week here in Nashville another WalletHub study was released about the anger and sin component of the region and Tennessee was number five on the list. Why Nevada was number one makes no sense as all sin is legal there but okay but to see TN on the list  I was not shocked, no really not at all even sarcastically about that. What I found laughable  was  that story was buried deep in the rag of the news and not even given a passing mention on the TV news as they recite every study and bullshit claim like a breathless teenager who just got felt up for the first time.  Well here they start young and early with that and when they reach their teen years they have the experience that adults twice their age have yet experienced so that might explain why they passed over it.  I have no problem with this view as Tennessee as debased as again I have seen it and witnessed it first hand with  the endless stories about varying Teachers/Youth Coaches/Pastors and others who work with kids fucking them up in every sense of the word proves my point.  You don't come out of that unscathed and damaged as we are seeing with the convocation at the Vatican over the abuse by Priests in the Church.  Funny how the temples and buildings have withstood while the human casualties show devastation akin to an major earthquake.

I can say nothing more about this subject of molestation of which as they say here was "blessed" to not know or experience as a kid. When I was engaged/involved an educated by the Catholics in my formative years I never felt threatened and whatever I did to avoid it I wished I knew today but again time has passed but still I think of  my fellow classmates who were likely abused by Father Champagne and think why?  Then I look at the Teachers and Nuns and Adults in that perimeter who seemingly were unaware but were they?  Then there were the horrific Teachers in their own right and often abusive and unkind to Students who were challenged or challenging many ways.  My one punishment which I learned quickly (as I only needed one lesson) was a Teacher who punished kids who talked, like me, in in class to squat in his classroom arms outstretched in a cross like position (irony not lost clearly) as he would stack one Encyclopedia on each hand one after another until you collapsed in pain.  He was a sick fuck and I hope he rots in hell.   I see similar Teacher problems here as I get why they verbally abuse these kids as it is just a cycle of hell, give and take and give and take as no one knows how to actually rationalize or work with children so damaged they are simply too far gone to do so.

Yes the children here are not capable of rational thought or any concept of cause and effect.  As yesterday the children who killed the young musician laughed and talked their way through court leading the Judge to toss them out as a result.  Shocking? No, not really.  Even more troubling the Police did not handle the kids and put himself at risk when a gun was tossed in the front seat of his ca after they were arrested.    This case is so troubling that even the nasty site Scoop Nashville is avoiding it as they know full well that their audience of largely faces of color at some point could not contain themselves and only add further fuel to this burning dumpster fire that is Nashville.

I went to the alternative school this week that was in the news as its Police Officers quit a due to the verbal abuse that they could no longer tolerate.  And once again I found another set of children so damaged there is little one can say other than they are clearly mentally ill and there is nothing that this school can do to salvage these kids only to stop pretending they are.  One boy came in moved some instruments and brought his classmates into the room in order  to throw dicel he had fistfuls of dollar bills and was immediately in charge, demanding me to shut up and not touch him (as if I would but again that is a red flag) and when I opened the door to show this in the hall they ran out after threatening me and what? Verbally abusing me.   Then later a young woman came in sat at my desk and demanded me to play "black people not white people music" and wanted my full name to complain about me. No she wanted my full name to find me on social media as that is the way they complain here and this is also how many a Teacher have been busted for doing the same so if anything why any Teacher would is beyond my understanding so another good reason to keep any of that on the down low but hey keep on keeping on.  So,   I invited her to call the office as they have all the details needed in which to officially file said complaint and she refused demanding me to not talk to her while demanding my full name.  Which is it?  I kept saying: "Whatever you say miss" which further enraged her and then the Teacher arrived.  He is a young black man with a degree from Howard University and this is his job? What does he do? Nothing but pretend he is "giving back" from what I can tell by the lessons left and to whom  this giving is to I am unclear.   There is no giving here only taking.  I literally walked out of the school and realized I am the one who is nuts for going back ever.

And today I had another laugh as  the Plumber who is also the Governor here was found admitting to partaking in Antebellum parties of his youth and apologizing.   And then the requisite photo emerged of him wearing a Confederate uniform.  Shocking!  No, not really.

Meanwhile in election fraud the loudest voices went silent as the testimony of the candidates son finally broke that back in North Carolina.  Now the candidate has had strokes that made his memory falter clearly not enough to not run for office in the first place but one has to love that sordid bullshit that had a Hardee's worker collecting absentee ballots and submitting them for fraud. But had this son not testified to his concerns with evidence supporting his claims I wonder if this outcome would not be a new election.  The question is will Harris suddenly recover to run again?

And lastly we have the Jussie Smolletts's case. There is nothing I can say about this but thanks to this idiot he has done little to restore already well fractured issues in the Black and Gay community.  Perhaps Charles Barkley gave the best advice to anyone planning a crime: Don't write a check.  To create a hate crime for whatever reason is nuts and I saw it less about his being black or gay but him being a celebrity and his family has been in that air for a long time so his reality is not all that connected to the communities he belongs,  celebrity is a whole different genre, like white music and black music.  Hey ask that crazy girl what that is exactly but it told me again that racism is not unilateral or singular in any direction.  

Today the New York Times has a section dedicated to the story and memory of Emmett Till and his murder.  It was a hate crime of epic proportion and cannot be mentioned in cavalier fashion as I have heard of late with the Director of Nashville's dumpsters evoking it and of Trayvon Martin which I think is the most prescient examples of how we have done little to change our concepts and views on race in the last 50 years since.   So I take those young men's names seriously and with utter respect and reverance and do not use them in any way other than in the appropriate context - theirs.  They own their story in life and in death and I question anyone to use it otherwise as it demeans and in turn diminishes their stories.

So while Jussie Smollett takes on the news front page a real hate crime was in the planning stage and it was being done by a member of our U.S. Coast Guard on Government issued equipment and on Government issued time like Donald Trump does with his firing up these crazy fucks who want to act on their hate and takes his as their own.

Let's review real hate crimes of late: Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Charleston, Kentucky, Portland Oregon, the shootings in Antioch, one at a church and later the one at the Waffle House,  the newspaper in Maryland. There was the Borderline Bar shooting in California, the Yoga Studio, the Bank shooting and the bomb maker in Florida.    Regardless of the intent these are all fueled by some internal rage directed to a cohort of individuals who have an agenda to promote or defend.  It is so severe the Justice Department has a site dedicated to understanding and tracking hate crimes.  Good times!  This is when I don't laugh I don't sleep and don't feel safe.  I don't feel safe living in Nashville for good reason and the children here were my first introduction to this place and my deep suspicions have in fact been proved right.   And yes all of it is about mental health as I have finally accepted that all of these children who later become adults have mental health issues that go utterly neglected until they finally act on their delusions, their fantasies and their rages.

Bless the Beasts and the Children is a part of the Christian Dogma and it is funny here in the Bible Belt it is last thing they do, instead they use the belt to beat said children (and likely animals given the endless talk on news about them I suspect that is why as there is another rescue story daily) into submission.  This is how we comply through violence. Here is another dogma for you: Violence begets violence. 

 This marks the ending week of Black History month and there are so many pages to add to this history but is any of it good of late?   Stories are told from many perspective and many voices and I am not against anyone willing to share a story about another if it lends to the history of their existence. So when a white idiot tells me about Don Shirley regardless of the narrator I will open my mind and my ears to listen to his gift that enabled him to share it with an audience of all colors.  The same for Freddie Mercury. I don't need a movie about him being Gay to listen to Queen that is another story for another film maker to make and even that film had a narrator who might have problems of his own that too may be made into a movie.  We listen to and learn from those who are trying to tell us something.  And guess what not all of it is good, nor important, nor relevant but we need to listen so we can try to work around it be that on a larger scale or just a personal one.  I have tried here to do that every time I walk into a school and finally I have decided to not.

 Yesterday the schools were honoring Black History Month with varying presentations and assembly's and I promptly used that time to sneak out and run errands.  Anything to get out of those schools I will do and yes they can pay me my 11/hour as they owe me frankly.   Years ago I recall going on a march through a park to listen to drummers present a tribute to the music and honor those who had walked many paths of protest only a year later to find a student at the same school accuse me of racism because his behavioral problems were so significant I asked him to put his head on his desk and breathe and count to ten to calm down and focus.  He felt that was racist.  I ask kids of all colors to do that many times and yet when you figure you are singled out as you are different I see the point but there it is - I cannot tell a black child anything they don't want to hear it.  It took me moving South to finally realize that no my message is lost and just like the girl who wanted to listen to black music not white music I got it, I really did.    I don't need a stack of books on each arm to weigh me down with pain my pain is real and I am so ready to pack and go it cannot come soon enough.  It does make we wonder who I will be when I leave as the person I am here is not a happy one. So I have to laugh as it has always been the medicine of choice to find peace I hope you find a way to find yours.