Longest serving Congressman passes

John Dingell: My last words for America

John D. Dingell in 2014. (Jeff Kowalsky/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

February 8th, 2019

John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who served in the U.S. House from 1955 to 2015, was the longest-serving member of Congress in American history. He dictated these reflections to his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), at their home in Dearborn, on Feb. 7, the day he died.

One of the advantages of knowing that your demise is imminent and that reports of it will not be greatly exaggerated is that you have a few moments to compose some parting thoughts.

In our modern political age, the presidential bully pulpit seems dedicated to sowing division and denigrating, often in the most irrelevant and infantile personal terms, the political opposition.

And much as I have found Twitter to be a useful means of expression, some occasions merit more than 280 characters.

My personal and political character was formed in a different era that was kinder, if not necessarily gentler. We observed a modicum of respect even as we fought, often bitterly and savagely, over issues that were literally life and death to a degree that — fortunately – we see much less of today.

Think about it:

The impoverishment of the elderly because of medical expenses was a common and often accepted occurrence. Opponents of the Medicare program that saved the elderly from that cruel fate called it “socialized medicine.” Remember that slander if there’s a sustained revival of silly red-baiting today. Continue reading Longest serving Congressman passes

Why disaster capitalists are praying for a no deal Brexit.

The Mask of Anarchy

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 04:21 AM PST

Why disaster capitalists are praying for a no deal Brexit.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 8th February 2019


Part of me wants to smash it all up. I want to see the British bubble burst: the imperial nostalgia, the groundless belief in the inherent greatness of this nation, the casual dishonesty of those who govern us, the xenophobia, the intolerance, the denial, the complacency. I want those who have caused the coming disaster to own it, so that no one ever believes them again. No Deal Brexit? Bring it on.

Such dark thoughts do not last long. Then I remember it will be the poor who get hurt, first and worst. The rich leavers demanding the hardest of possible Brexits, with their offshore accounts, homes abroad and lavish pensions, will be all right. I remember the eerie silence of the City of London. While the bosses of companies producing goods and tangible services write anxious letters to the papers, the financial sector stays largely schtum. Shorting sterling is just the first of its possible gains.

The Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, caused by the IMF’s insistence that countries removed their capital controls, began with an attack by foreign speculators on Thailand’s baht. As currencies tanked and nations raised their interest rates, indebted companies went down like flies. Foreign corporations, particularly from the US, swept in and bought the most lucrative assets for a fraction of their value. Though the causes are different, it’s not hard to see something similar happening here. If it does, the City will clean up.

But this is not the end of it. What a no-deal Brexit might offer is the regulatory vacuum the Brextremists fantasize about. The public protections people have fought so hard for, that we obtained only through British membership of the EU – preventing water companies from pouring raw sewage into our rivers, power stations from spraying acid rain across the land, chemical companies from contaminating our food – are suddenly at risk. Continue reading Why disaster capitalists are praying for a no deal Brexit.

Medical humor

Examples of medical humor

1. A man comes into the ER and yells . . .’My wife’s going to have her baby in the cab.’
I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady’s dress and began to take off her underwear.
Suddenly I noticed that there were several cabs – – – and I was in the wrong one.
Submitted by Dr. Mark MacDonald,  San Francisco

2. At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient’s anterior chest wall.
‘Big breaths,’ I instructed.
‘Yes, they used to be,’ Replied the patient.
Submitted by Dr. Richard Byrnes, Seattle, WA

3. One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct.
Not more than five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a ‘massive internal fart.’
Submitted by Dr. Susan Steinberg

4. During a patient’s two week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble with one of his medications.
‘Which one?’ I asked.
‘The patch.’
‘The Nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I’m running out of places to put it!’
I had him quickly undress and discovered what I hoped I wouldn’t see.
Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body!
Now, the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.
Submitted by Dr. Rebecca St. Clair, Norfolk, VA

5. While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked,
‘How long have you been bedridden?’
After a look of complete confusion she answered,
‘ Why, not for about twenty years – when my husband was alive.’
Submitted by Dr. Steven Swanson, Corvallis, OR

6. I was performing rounds at the hospital one morning and while checking up on a man I asked . . .’ So how’s your breakfast this morning?’
‘It’s very good except for the Kentucky Jelly. I can’t seem to get used to the taste,’ Bob replied.
I then asked to see the jelly and Bob produced a foil packet labeled ‘KY Jelly.’
Submitted by Dr. Leonard Kransdorf, Detroit

7. A nurse was on duty in the Emergency Room when a young woman with purple hair styled into a punk rocker Mohawk, sporting a variety of tattoos, and wearing strange clothing, entered. It was quickly determined that the patient had acute appendicitis, so she was scheduled for immediate surgery.
When she was completely disrobed on the operating table, the staff noticed that her pubic hair had been dyed greenand above it there was a Tattoo that read . . .’ Keep off the grass.’
Once the surgery was completed, the surgeon wrote a short note on the patient’s dressing, Which said, ‘Sorry . . . Had to mow the lawn.’
Submitted by RN no name,

8. As a new, young MD doing his residency in OB, I was quite embarrassed when performing female pelvic exams.
To cover my embarrassment I had unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly.
The middle-aged lady upon whom I was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing, further embarrassing me.
I looked up from my work and sheepishly said . . ..
‘ I’m sorry. Was I tickling you?’
She replied with tears running down her cheeks from laughing so hard . . ..
‘ No doctor but the song you were whistling was, ‘ I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener.’
Dr. Wouldn’t submit his name….

9. A woman and a baby were in the doctor’s examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the baby’s first exam.
The doctor arrived, and examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed.
‘Breast-fed,’ she replied.
‘Well, strip down to your waist,’ the doctor ordered.
She did. He pinched her nipples, pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination.
Motioning to her to get dressed, the doctor said,
‘No wonder this baby is underweight. You don’t have any milk.’
‘I know,’ she said, ‘I’m his Grandma.’

On updating a Garmin Nuvi

How to update your Garmin GPS Units


As an owner of Garmin Nuvi GPS units for well over a decade I have wanted to update the maps on the devices a couple of times. In the past I updated the maps installed on the Nuvi 200W and 250W units at least twice, the last being in 2010.

Installing the Garmin Express application on a PC shows I have the option to purchase either a one-time map update for $50, or a “lifetime” update for $90. Being that I also have both a Android and iPhone with free mapping and navigation software on the devices the prospect of paying for something I can have for free does not endear me to Garmin’s update path.

So after cruising the Web for a while I discovered that it is possible to update the maps on my Nuvi’s – for free – easily.

The Nuvi’s have two storage elements, the internal flash drive, and an add-in  SD card slot, limited to 4Gb on the 205W.

We are fortunate to have programmers on the Web who have adapted the OSM maps for use on the Nuvi’s.

The one I settled on is the one provided by “Lambertus” which is available at: : https://daveh.dev.openstreetmap.org/garmin/Lambertus/2019-01-14/

A user will note there are several versions of the maps on the site, conveniently listed by date, and size. Since I had a spare 2Gb SD card, I downloaded the one
shown above, formatted the SD card with a Fat 32 partition, created a directory called: Garmin, renamed the downloaded file to: gmapsupp.img,
and copied it to the Garmin directory.

Putting the SD card in the GPS device, and powering it on, automatically switched the ‘in use’ map to the downloaded OSM map instead of the previous
Garmin version. Add back the previously installed map by clicking to make both maps active.

The Garmin Express application opened and suggested I update the installed free system software, not the maps; but based on my experience with Microsoft I
decided not to do that.

All of my ‘favorites’ were still available, and the new map data on the OSM version showed some roads that had been added since my 2010 map had been

So, in short, yes, you can obtain a free update for Garmin maps, online.





SOTU 2019 – manufactured vs observed

I wrote that a year ago about the last State of the Union address, and I have no reason to doubt tonight will prove to be any different. These addresses have been, by and large, wildly overwrought exercises in fiction, ego-inflation and ersatz patriotism since Ronald Reagan decided to go big with them four decades ago. Now that Donald Trump has lumbered onto the scene, however, the charade has become quite completely surreal, a festival of lies, bombast and full-throated nonsense that beggars likeness.

They will stand, they will sit, they will clap, they will leave, and nothing of substance or import will have been imparted to the people. Therefore, my colleagues and I at Truthout have endeavored to compile a collection of facts about the actual state of the union, and indeed the world, as a companion piece to the speech.

What follows does not cover every topic and crisis worthy of attention. The ongoing calamity of for-profit health care, attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, racist police violence, Yemen, the Forever Wars and other vital subjects will be discussed in a variety of articles to come. Here is an incomplete yet all-too-necessary look at a few of the most pressing concerns we face. Here is the truth, as best as we can state it, about the state of things. It is not pretty, not without hope, and exactly what you deserve to hear.

— William Rivers Pitt Continue reading SOTU 2019 – manufactured vs observed

Carlin’s comment was spot on…

The Corporate Plan to Groom U.S. Kids for Servitude by Wiping Out Public Schools
By Lynn Parramore


Training first-world children for a third-world life


West Virginia’s public school teachers had endured years of low pay, inadequate insurance, giant class sizes, and increasingly unlivable conditions—including attempts to force them to record private details of their health daily on a wellness app. Their governor, billionaire coal baron Jim Justice, pledged to allow them no more than an annual 1% raise—effectively a pay cut considering inflation—in a state where teacher salaries ranked 48th lowest out of 50 states. In February 2018, they finally revolted: In a tense, nine-day work stoppage, they managed to wrest a 5% pay increase from the state. Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky have now revolted in similar protests.

It’s the latest battle in a contest between two countervailing forces: one bent on reengineering America for the benefit of the wealthy, the other struggling to preserve dignity and security for ordinary people.

If the story turns out the way the Jim Justices desire, the children of a first-world country will henceforth be groomed for a third-world life.

Gordon Lafer, Associate Professor at the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon, and Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, help illuminate why this is happening, who is behind it, and what’s at stake as the educational system that once united Americans and prepared them for a life of social and economic mobility is wiped out of existence.

The Plan: Lower People’s Expectations

When Lafer began to study the tsunami of corporate-backed legislation that swept the country in early 2011 in the wake of Citizens United—the 2010 Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence the political system—he wasn’t yet clear what was happening. In state after state, a pattern was emerging of highly coordinated campaigns to smash unions, shrink taxes for the wealthy, and cut public services. Headlines blamed globalization and technology for the squeeze on the majority of the population, but Lafer began to see something far more deliberate working behind the scenes: a hidden force that was well-funded, laser-focused, and astonishingly effective.

Lafer pored over the activities of business lobbying groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – funded by giant corporations including Walmart, Amazon.com, and Bank of America—that produces “model legislation” in areas its conservative members use to promote privatization. He studied the Koch network, a constellation of groups affiliated with billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. (Koch Industries is the country’s second-largest private company with business including crude oil supply and refining and chemical production). Again and again, he found that corporate-backed lobbyists were able to subvert the clear preferences of the public and their elected representatives in both parties. Of all the areas these lobbyists were able to influence, the policy campaign that netted the most laws passed, featured the most big players, and boasted the most effective organizations was public education. For these U.S. corporations, undermining the public school system was the Holy Grail. Continue reading Carlin’s comment was spot on…

On the end of Hooters

The real reason Hooters is disappearing across the country

via Mashed by Debra Kelly


Usually, when you announce where you’re headed for dinner, it’s met with a bit of excitement and — hopefully — agreement. Announce to the family you’d like to go to Hooters, though, and it might be met with doubt and a disapproving scowl. There’s no denying that Hooters — with their scantily-clad waitresses and looks-based hiring practices — has always targeted a certain client base.

It’s hard to believe they’ve been doing it for more than 30 years, and according to USA Today, they haven’t aged well. They called Hooters “a fading relic of the 1980s,” and they’ve been on a very slow downward slide for a long time. There’s only one year in recent memory that they saw a sales increase, and even then it was just a pretty sad one percent. In 2008, they had 400 restaurants. By 2011, they had closed 35 locations and lost an annual revenue of more than $100 million (via Time). Between 2012 and 2016 they closed a further seven percent of their locations, says Business Insider. So what’s going on with this bro-centric breastaurant?

BrandIndex is a company that surveys a wide customer base across dozens of industries in order to determine what’s trending and what’s not. They took a hard look at Hooters in 2013, and what they found was pretty hilarious… or would be, if it wasn’t so dismal.

Customers were asked to rate Hooters on a scale of 100 to -100, and as of 2013, women rated the chain at a pretty sad -21. That might not be surprising, but how about the guys? Their average score clocked in at an almost equally sad 2, climbing a bit from the -3 they scored just a few months prior. Continue reading On the end of Hooters

Right-wing extremism linked to almost all mass murders in America in 2018

  • A new report shows all the extremist killings in 2018 had links to right-wing extremism.
  • The report’s findings are consistent with other fairly recent studies on extremism in the US, which have shown right-wing extremism and violence are on the rise.
  • There were at least 50 extremist-related killings in 2018, according to the report, making it the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.

via Business Insider – Jan. 27th, 2019

pittsburgh synagogue shooting mourners
Students from the Yeshiva School in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh stand outside Beth Shalom Synagogue after attending the funeral service for Joyce Fienberg, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. Joyce Fienberg, 75, was one of 11 people killed when a gunman opened fire during worship services at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27.
 AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Every extremist killing in the US in 2018 had a link to a right-wing extremism, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

The report zeroes in on incidents such as the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018, and the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October 2018. There were at least 50 extremist-related killings in the US in 2018, according to the report, making it the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.

Read more: Right-wing violence has ‘accelerated’ in the US since Trump took office

“The extremist-related murders in 2018 were overwhelmingly linked to right-wing extremists,” the report states. “Every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, although one had recently switched to supporting Islamist extremism. White supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings, which is typically the case.” Continue reading Right-wing extremism linked to almost all mass murders in America in 2018

Government shutdown comprehensive review : Jan 24th, 2019

Trump’s recall of furloughed federal workers shows that “nonessential” staff do essential work.

The Daily 202 An unintended consequence? Shutdown highlights the importance and value of government. 

via WaPo Daily 202: by James Hohmann with Joanie Greve

Many conservative hard-liners inside and closely allied with the Trump administration, who have made careers out of bashing the federal bureaucracy, believed a partial shutdown would validate their view that government can function just fine without “nonessential” employees. In fact, the past 33 days have done the opposite.


It turns out just because workers have been categorized as “nonessential” does not mean the work they do is not important. That’s why President Trump keeps calling back more and more furloughed workers to do things like process tax refunds, inspect food, approve loans and issue food stamps.

With no end in sight to the five-week-old impasse, the effects are poised to become both worse and more obvious to more people. One enduring result could be that Americans collectively come to appreciate the value government provides in their everyday lives to a greater degree. The federal court system, for instance, may need to halt major operations after Feb. 1, and the Department of Agriculture does not have funding to pay food stamp benefits come March to roughly 40 million people.

Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural address that government could not provide the solution to our problems. “Government is the problem,” he declared. This has been a dominant mentality of the Reagan epoch, which arguably we continue to live in 38 years after he gave that speech. After all, even Bill Clinton declared in 1996 – just days after the end of what until this month was the longest shutdown ever – that “the era of big government is over.” The problem of the present moment, however, is that the government is increasingly struggling to deliver services and benefits that many Americans count on, even if they take them for granted. Continue reading Government shutdown comprehensive review : Jan 24th, 2019

Rebecca Solnit on activism

Standing Rock inspired Ocasio-Cortez to run. That’s the power of protest

Press on for what you believe in – a young woman’s election to Congress shows climate activism can have unforeseen results

Dakota Access pipeline protesters in North Dakota, February 2017
 Dakota Access pipeline protesters in North Dakota, February 2017. Photograph: Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

It’s hard right now to remember how hot it was last August on the long sandy beach where the Colorado River meets the Green River in southern Utah. I was a few days into a rafting trip through Cataract Canyon with a bunch of young climate activists, and one of them, Will Munger, was telling me that since his months at the Standing Rock resistance camp, he had been encountering young Native people whose experiences at the protest site had encouraged them to dream of new possibilities and take actions that might otherwise have seemed out of reach.

On a cold day this January, I was thinking again about that conversation as I contemplated Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to run for office. “I first started considering running for Congress, actually, at Standing Rock in North Dakota,” she said late last year. “It was really from that crucible of activism where I saw people putting their lives on the line … for people they’ve never met and never known. When I saw that, I knew that I had to do something more.” Continue reading Rebecca Solnit on activism

Gaslighting, and how to deal with it

Ariel Leve offers strategies to stay resilient in the face of psychological abuse that distorts the truth

Remain defiant: the most important tip if you want to face gaslighting.
 Remain defiant: the most important tip if you want to face gaslighting. Illustration: Rob Dobi

Right now, many Americans listening to their president are experiencing what I experienced frequently a child. Nothing means anything, and reality is being canceled. There is confusion, there is chaos, everything is upside down and inside out. When facts and truth are being discredited, how is it possible to know what to believe, especially when it comes from someone we expect to embody both ethics and etiquette?

It’s obvious to those already initiated. To those new to the phenomena: the president and the current administration are gaslighting us. It’s a term we are hearing a lot of right now.

The term “gaslighting” refers to when someone manipulates you into questioning and second-guessing your reality. It derives from a 1944 movie – and the play and another film that preceded it – in which this happens to the heroine. What perhaps people don’t understand is how to manage and cope with it. For me, all it’s very familiar. I know this behavior well and I know how to navigate it.

As a child, I was experiencing a world where there was no emotional safety while being consistently told that I had a beautiful and happy childhood and that I was ungrateful. What was I complaining about? Yet what I was exposed to caused me to feel unsafe. And those feelings had a verifiable origin. Whether it was witnessing violent arguments or being on the receiving end of inappropriate behavior, when I confronted my mother with the truth, it was denied; my reality was disavowed and asserting it would only instigate conflict. I was told that what I saw with my own eyes hadn’t happened.

When I would confront my mother with things that she had said, or things that she had done, she would say I was making it up, that it was a lie. When I confronted her with facts, they were batted away. So it wasn’t just that my reality was canceled, but that my perception of reality was overwritten.

As I wrote in my memoir, An Abbreviated Life, it wasn’t the loudest and scariest explosions that caused the most damage. It wasn’t the physical violence or the verbal abuse or the lack of boundaries and inappropriate behavior. What did the real damage was the denial that these incidents ever occurred.

The erasure of the abuse was worse than the abuse. Continue reading Gaslighting, and how to deal with it

And now, for a little less levity…

On the creative life

Mary Oliver wrote in Upstream:

“It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of ideas have fled back into the mist. The world sheds, in the energetic way of an open and communal place, its many greetings, as a world should. What quarrel can there be with that? But that the self can interrupt the self — and does — is a darker and more curious matter.

Certainly there is within each of us a self that is neither a child, nor a servant of the hours. It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.

Say you have bought a ticket on an airplane and you intend to fly from New York to San Francisco. What do you ask of the pilot when you climb aboard and take your seat next to the little window, which you cannot open but through which you see the dizzying heights to which you are lifted from the secure and friendly earth?

Most assuredly you want the pilot to be his regular and ordinary self. You want him to approach and undertake his work with no more than a calm pleasure. You want nothing fancy, nothing new. You ask him to do, routinely, what he knows how to do — fly an airplane. You hope he will not daydream. You hope he will not drift into some interesting meander of thought. You want this flight to be ordinary, not extraordinary. So, too, with the surgeon, and the ambulance driver, and the captain of the ship. Let all of them work, as ordinarily they do, in confident familiarity with whatever the work requires, and no more. Their ordinariness is the surety of the world. Their ordinariness makes the world go round. Continue reading On the creative life

Trump as the Kremlin’s Tool: The Logical Proof

Trump as the Kremlin’s Tool: The Logical Proof

Whether intentional or not, Donald Trump serves the Kremlin’s interests — from NATO to the global economy and the Middle East to democracy.


  • Whether intentional or not, Donald Trump serves the Kremlin’s interests.
  • Trump is following Russian doctrine and supporting Russia’s national interests in many policy domains in an uncannily consistent manner.
  • The Putin/Trump “community of interest” ranges from NATO and the global economy to the Middle East and climate change.
  • Putin and Trump make common cause in trying to tear down the structures of NATO – albeit for different reasons.
  • Putin and Trump make common cause in trying to tear down the structures that govern the global economy – albeit for different reasons.
  • Trump’s actions weaken American democracy — which Putin sees as beneficial to Russia.

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign starts to wind down, recent revelations in the New York Times and Washington Post raise the possibility that President Donald Trump was working as an agent of the Russian government.

While there is scant evidence on the public record so far that this was the case, there has long been speculation about this matter. Ever since the ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives in the United States became evident, this matter has moved to the front pages of newspapers just about everywhere.

Why would Donald Trump make common cause with Russia?

Some people become foreign agents for the money. Others do it because they have been compromised and are subject to blackmail. Still others become foreign agents because of their egos. They are flattered by the attention of a foreign government and their ego tells them they can get away with it.

Stunningly, Donald Trump puts a check mark in each of these boxes. Continue reading Trump as the Kremlin’s Tool: The Logical Proof

Fragile masculinity


Posted: 17 Jan 2019 11:05 PM PST

Fearful masculinity harms both men and women. There are better ways of growing up.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 16th January 2019


(Here is the Gillette ad…)

What strikes me most is the fragility. Gillette makes an advertisement calling on men to challenge abusive behavior, and thousands furiously proclaim that they will never use its products again. The American Psychological Association issues new clinical guidelines, advising that masculinity characterized by dominance, aggression and emotional repression can be harmful to men’s mental health, and the world’s conservative media falls into a collective faint. So much for the strong and silent types.

If “real men”, according to the men’s rights movement, are tough and commanding, why are the exponents of this doctrine so easily discomposed? Why does the slightest challenge to the norms they proclaim – by a razor ad or an academic body they had probably never encountered before – trigger this frenzied testeria?

In thinking about male identities, I’m struck by the inadequacy of the terms we use. The notion that men should be distant, domineering and self-seeking is often described as toxic masculinity, but this serves only to alienate those who might need the most help. Its proponents describe their behavioral ideal as traditional masculinity, but conceptions of maleness, like conceptions of the family, have changed radically from century to century. In the furious response to the advertisement and the new guidelines, in the enthusiasm for Jordan Peterson and similar ideologues, what I perceive is fearful masculinity.

If you are at ease with yourself, you don’t feel the need to call other men cucks. If you are strong, you don’t feel threatened by strong women. In a fascinating article last year, Pankaj Mishra argued that perceived crises of masculinity often accompany anxiety about economic or national decline. Just as humiliation in Vietnam stimulated an appetite for “such cartoon visions of masculinity as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger”, 9/11 helped to spread morbid fears about the emasculation of Western powers, and the need to assert a new ideal of manliness. The perceived loss of both political and gender dominance has provoked some men to respond with homophobia, misogyny and a crude attempt to restore male authority. Continue reading Fragile masculinity

Exploring “the customer is always right” lie…

* We’ve all heard the standard refrain, but never checked to see if it were an accurate statement of conditions. The chart from the 2017 report by the Better Business Bureaus should provide a clue.

Notice that in some industry classes a market segment may have a fairly large number of complaints yet still show that the overwhelming majority are settled to the buyer’s satisfaction; while in others, like “online retailer” “apartments”, “clothing”, “restaurants”, and “general contractors” almost 40% are not resolved to the buyers satisfaction.

But in a segment like airlines, cable TV, and Banks, which have a somewhat high number of complaints, over 90% are settled.  Thus an analyst might ask: “what is responsible for the differential” in settlement percentages.

One of the first observations to appear is the notion of aperiodic versus continuing buying relationship, that is the former are mostly “one of” buys, whereas in the latter there is generally a continuing relationship between the parties. Sellers are thus rewarded for settling complaints and keeping the buyer as a customer.

For example: as a buyer and seller on eBay and Amazon for over twenty years, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have bought or sold an item to the same party; but have continued banking at the same Bank, even though the Bank I started with in 1971, Citizens & Southern, was sold or taken over several times by other Banks. Same with Comcast, a company that leads all others in the number of complaints filed against it.

As previously written elsewhere on this site regarding the con-job occurring with online retailers like eBay and Amazon, Sellers who are not in a monopoly position cannot settle complaints as readily as large multi-nationals. and must depend on the integrity and fairness in their sales channels. Thus a small-business eBay Seller harangued by a buyer of a used item, or a General Contractor harassed by a customer have almost no recourse to mandatory arbitration favored and supported by law within large corporations. In fact, Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay designed the venue to allow buyers and sellers to interact as equal partners to a transaction, with a “Feedback” system that encouraged each party to leave “feedback” on the transaction.

However, with changes implemented several years ago on eBay, Sellers are not able to leave negative or neutral feedback for buyers. That means sellers need other tools that will protect them against unfair treatment from buyers, plus combined with limitations on who or how a Seller can prohibit purchases by a questionable buyer, means Sellers, especially small-volume Sellers are most at risk of a “con job” being pulled on them.

The other observation that appears is that the “high resolution” entities are frequently moderated at least to some degree by Government rules, regulations, or agencies, whereas the “low resolution” entities are generally not restrained except by operating principles they created themselves. Take returns at retail outlets for example: some are ultra-restrictive, requiring returns be accompanied by receipts, within a defined time period, in the original packaging, show no signs of misuse, with payback reductions for “re-stocking charges”.

And the final observation is simply the notion “the customer is always right” has never been an operational condition in modern capitalist systems. Rather it is a motif projection embraced by both buyers and sellers, each for their own distinct purposes.

Impeach Donald Trump – an article in ‘The Atlantic’

in The Atlantic by Yoni Appelbaum March 2019 Issue
The Senate trial of Andrew Johnson

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand, and solemnly swore to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has not kept that promise.

Instead, he has mounted a concerted challenge to the separation of powers, to the rule of law, and to the civil liberties enshrined in our founding documents. He has purposefully inflamed America’s divisions. He has set himself against the American idea, the principle that all of us—of every race, gender, and creed—are created equal.

This is not a partisan judgment. Many of the president’s fiercest critics have emerged from within his own party. Even officials and observers who support his policies are appalled by his pronouncements, and those who have the most firsthand experience of governance are also the most alarmed by how Trump is governing.

“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naïveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate,” the late senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain lamented last summer. “The president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” the GOP’s other recent nominee, the former governor and now senator Mitt Romney, wrote in January.

 …see also this article

The oath of office is a president’s promise to subordinate his private desires to the public interest, to serve the nation as a whole rather than any faction within it. Trump displays no evidence that he understands these obligations. To the contrary, he has routinely privileged his self-interest above the responsibilities of the presidency. He has failed to disclose or divest himself from his extensive financial interests, instead using the platform of the presidency to promote them. This has encouraged a wide array of actors, domestic and foreign, to seek to influence his decisions by funneling cash to properties such as Mar-a-Lago (the “Winter White House,” as Trump has branded it) and his hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. Courts are now considering whether some of those payments violate the Constitution.

More troubling still, Trump has demanded that public officials put their loyalty to him ahead of their duty to the public. On his first full day in office, he ordered his press secretary to lie about the size of his inaugural crowd. He never forgave his first attorney general for failing to shut down investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and ultimately forced his resignation. “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty,” Trump told his first FBI director, and then fired him when he refused to pledge it. Continue reading Impeach Donald Trump – an article in ‘The Atlantic’

Are you an online Seller?


The eBay – Amazon Con-Job affecting Sellers
As an online Buyer or Seller one expects those they deal with on these sites to be somewhat honest and rational. Except now we are somewhere else – as a Seller I have had several buyers purchase a used item, pay for it, have it shipped to them, and then must endure a melange of aggravations due to the Buyer complaining about some condition of the item, while demanding a refund.
Both Amazon and eBay go one step further, by providing a clearly displayed option to refund the Buyer’s payment, and allow the Buyer to retain possession of the item, plus have the Seller absorb the cost of shipping the item!
In fact, with Amazon, that is the default option for dealing with return requests. So of course, the con artists saw their opportunity to scam Sellers, and that is exactly what is happening.
We have been a buyer and seller on eBay and Amazon ever since they came online, and occasionally experienced this or other con jobs…maybe once every several months, but it’s now gotten to the point it happens frequently…more than 10% of all our online sales end this way.
Over the 20+ years we have almost always maintained a 100% satisfaction rating with these sites, but even one unhappy buyer who leaves “negative feedback” can be costly to one’s online reputation and affect the fees that eBay and Amazon charge Sellers.
In short, both venues have made it very easy to extort money from Sellers on their platforms, while simultaneous making it impossible to attach negative feedback for unsavory or dishonest Buyers.
And for the venues themselves, giving the Buyer full-reign in transactions is a no-brainer…Sellers have no one to complain to, whereas Buyers can go to their elected officials and organizations and file notices and claims that cost these sites time and effort to resolve.
And lastly, a Seller that handles thousands of low value new items doesn’t care about this, it only seriously affects those who sell used and high-value items.


Ethnographic analysis

After the Fact | The American Dream: Does Your ZIP Code Determine Your Destiny?

Originally aired January 4, 2018 on Pew Trusts.

TRANSCRIPT Dan LeDuc, host: As calendars turn to a new year, we’re marking another milestone here at “After the Fact.” It’s been two years since our first episode. So we’re revisiting our inaugural topic: the state of the American Dream. For The Pew Charitable Trusts,

I’m Dan LeDuc, and welcome to “After the Fact.” The American Dream—the idea that anyone can climb the economic ladder—is all about equal opportunity. But how much of that dream is predetermined by factors like where you live, or even who your kindergarten teacher was? Our guest is John Friedman, who teaches economics at Brown University. Along with colleagues Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, John founded Opportunity Insights.

The organization, based at Harvard, uses data to understand inequality and economic mobility in the U.S. with a mission to revive the American Dream. One thing they’ve done toward this goal is to create something called the Opportunity Atlas: a map of what opportunity looks like for kids in neighborhoods across the country.

One of their findings is that only half of the nation’s children today grow up to earn more than their parents. And that’s our data point for this episode: 50 percent. For children born in the 1940s, that number was more than 90 percent. We asked John what that means for today’s American Dream—and whether your ZIP code can determine your destiny. Continue reading Ethnographic analysis

Shrodinger’s Cat

A refresher: “Schrödinger’s cat is a famous hypothetical experiment designed to point out a flaw in the Copenhagen interpretation of superposition as it applies to quantum theory. … According to quantum law under the Copenhagen interpretation, the cat will be both dead and alive until someone looks in the box.”

Not to be confused with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle which states that it is impossible to know simultaneously the exact position and momentum of a particle. That is, the more exactly the position is determined, the less known the momentum, and vice versa.