Supermax – “Alcatraz of the Rockies”

Before entering ADX, Powers had no history or symptoms of mental illness, but since being installed there, he has become deranged and has engaged in numerous acts of self-mutilation, including amputating his testicle and scrotum, biting off his finger and trying to kill himself on several occasions.

To give you an idea of why a previously sane person would lapse into madness at ADX, you need look no further than the circumstances of their confinement. ADX was designed to ensure the total isolation of all its prisoners, who are held in cells about the size of an average toilet. The cells have thick, concrete soundproof walls, a door with bars and a second door made of solid steel. The only possible means of communicating with other humans is to yell into the toilet bowl and hope that someone may hear. The inmates are kept in their cell 24/7 for two days each week. On the other five days, they may get to spend approximately one hour in a similarly-sized cage for what is laughingly referred to as “outdoor” recreation.

US ‘supermax’ prison is condemned internationally for its abusive regime
Sadhbh Walshe, September 2012, guardian

Build a better bus stop

Time spent waiting for a bus feels even longer when there’s no place to sit or get out of the rain. I mean that literally: A study from the University of Minnesota found that a five-minute wait at an exposed, “pole-in-the-ground” bus stop will seem like a 13-minute wait. If the transit agency simply offers a bench and some kind of roof, perceived wait time falls to 7.5 minutes.

As Pedestrian Observation’s Alon Levy has noted, the price of such a bus shelter is only around $15,000. That makes them a cost-effective way of making bus trips seem faster, even if a transit agency lacks the resources to increase service frequency. And it is perception that drives human behavior.

VIA, San Antonio’s transit agency, spent $12 million to build 1,000 bus shelters from 2014 to 2017. Correlation is not causation, but the steep decline in VIA’s ridership began to taper off at around the same time the program began, and in 2019 bus ridership grew in San Antonio — bucking national trends.

4 Cheap Ways To Make Urban Transportation Better
David Zipper, CityLab

Gerrymandering, example of

Texas’ 35th district from assholedesign

ghalta
Austin is the largest city in the country that doesn’t have a congressional district centered in/on it, but is instead split into five congressional districts – 21 that stretches out into the hill country, 25 that reaches up into the DFW suburbs, 17 that includes Waco, 10 that stretches to the Houston suburbs, and 35 shown above. The goal of the Republican-dominated legislature that created these districts was openly and intentionally to dilute the influence of Austin’s liberal voters in electing the Texas congressional delegation. In 2018, for example, Democrats won about 47% of the overall state’s congressional vote, but only won 13 of the state’s 36 districts thanks to gerrymandering such as above.

Bounty1Berry
I could see odd shapes if the goals were to try to have approximate equality of population, to follow landmarks like rivers and highways, and to minimize splitting of other government entities (cities/counties) across districts.

Single Family Home Rentals – Institutional Investors And

Wall Street’s latest real estate grab has ballooned to roughly $60 billion, representing hundreds of thousands of properties. In some communities, it has fundamentally altered housing ecosystems in ways we’re only now beginning to understand, fueling a housing recovery without a homeowner recovery. “That’s the big downside,” says Daniel Immergluck, a professor of urban studies at Georgia State University. “During one of the greatest recoveries of land value in the history of the country, from 2010 and 2011 at the bottom of the crisis to now, we’ve seen huge gains in property values, especially in suburbs, and instead of that accruing to many moderate-income and middle-income homeowners, many of whom were pushed out of the homeownership market during the crisis, that land value has accrued to these big companies and their shareholders.”

Before 2010, institutional landlords didn’t exist in the single-family-rental market; now there are 25 to 30 of them, according to Amherst Capital, a real estate investment firm. From 2007 to 2011, 4.7 million households lost homes to foreclosure, and a million more to short sale. Private-equity firms developed new ways to secure credit, enabling them to leverage their equity and acquire an astonishing number of homes.

The Great Wall Street Housing Grab
Hundreds of thousands of single-family homes are now in the hands of giant companies — squeezing renters for revenue and putting the American dream even further out of reach.
Francesca Mari, NYTIMES

The Philosophy of an Epoch, Unknown Assumptions – Alfred Whitehead Quote

“When you are criticizing the philosophy of an epoch, do not chiefly direct your attention to those intellectual positions which its exponents feel it necessary explicitly to defend. There will be some fundamental assumptions which adherents to all the variant systems within the epoch unconsciously presuppose. Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them. With these assumptions a certain limited number of types of philosophic systems are possible, and this group of systems constitutes the philosophy of the epoch.”

Alfred Whitehead, Science and the Modern
Open Library

Hypothetical example – Everything is about Growth. The assumption that growing the GDP is a universal imperative, or that it’s an inherent good. 

In Utah, some public workers are able to fly to Canada or Mexico to buy their medication at a steep discount – WBUR

Utah is pioneering an alternative for its state employees to address soaring prescription drug prices.

The Pharmacy Tourism Program, a part of the Utah Public Employees Health Program (PEHP), allows certain members with high-cost medicines to fill their prescription in Vancouver, Canada, and Tijuana, Mexico, where medication comes at a much lower cost. The initiative even pays for members’ flights.

WBUR

Non U.S. millenials having same problems as the American ones?


US milliennials (roughly 22-37 yrs of age) are facing heavy debt and low pay which prevents or delays them from buying homes (or other large purchases) and starting families compared to their parents, are other countries experiencing the same or similar economic issues with this age group? from NoStupidQuestions

“In the UK almost identical situation.
I’m 43 I own my house and pay £600 pcm mortgage.
My colleague is 34 rents a house on the same street. Pays £900 pcm rent.
He’s fucked. Totally fucked.”

“In Finland, not as bad, but trending towards that. Pay is dragging behind the increasing cost of living, because we need to remain competitive in EU internal and global markets, which apparently can only be done with wages. Not by for example, making Finland more friendly to startups and small and medium sized companies, and entrepreneurs.”

reddit

How many wars is the US in?

According to this, it was 7 as of March 2018. (Closest I could find to now).

The U.S. military is officially fighting wars in seven countries, according to the White House’s latest war report. Known formally as the “Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Military Force and Related National Security Operations,” the unclassified portion flags ops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger — all under the banner of the same war authority granted in the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to fight al-Qaeda-linked militants.

US at war in 7 countries — including Niger; US Army rebuilds Afghan firebases; F-35s to India?; and just a bit more… https://www.defenseone.com/

Socialists and billionaires in presidential politics. Open Source, Christopher Lydon

The New Red Scare
“The winter round of the presidential race goes to Bernie Sanders, not so much for winning the most votes from Democrats as for coining the key word, the big theme for 2020, which is: billionaires! Not just the billionaires on the ballot and billionaires backstage, it’s billionaire-ism coming to be the argument of this election in a country at odds more and more about money. We’re used to anger, right and left, but suddenly there’s alarm in the air – at MSNBC, the Democrats’ TV network, the bold march of Bernie’s anti-billionaire army reminded Hardball‘s Chris Matthews of the Fall of France to Hitler in 1940. It’s scary, and there’s a pick of scarecrows in this race: the Plutocrat; the Democratic Socialist, and the President.

This was wake-up week among the Democrats nominating a presidential candidate. Some woke up cheering that Bernie Sanders looks like the choice of the people. Some woke up screaming in horror that the rebellion against the Clinton era is real, that their party has been dying for four years, that the end is near. The sound of battle has gone raw, with survival at stake, not just egos.”

Radio Open Source

Parker House Hotel, Boston – Locus of Revolution

“Actor John Wilkes Booth stayed at the hotel April 5–6, 1865, eight days before assassinating Abraham Lincoln. He was apparently in Boston to see his brother, actor Edwin Booth, who was performing there. While in Boston, Booth was seen practicing at a firing range near the Parker House.”

Famous workers:
“Ho Chi Minh claimed to have worked as a baker at the hotel from 1912 to 1913.
Malcolm X, then going by the name Malcolm Little, worked as a busboy at the hotel in the 1940s.
Long before he was a culinary superstar, Emeril Lagasse served as Sous Chef in the Parker kitchens from 1979 to 1981.”
Wikipedia 

If you want to book a room – OMNI PARKER HOUSE

‘We can’t afford healthcare’: US hospital workers fight for higher wages

Hospital and healthcare workers across the US are launching union drives and organizing protests in order to win higher wages and better working conditions, saying their industry exploits them and leaves them often unable to afford healthcare, despite working in the sector.

According to the SEIU, there are about 50,000 low-wage hospital workers throughout the Chicago metro area and about 10,000 are currently represented by the union.

LeChrisha Pearson, a single mother and certified nursing assistant for eight years at Chicago’s Mount Sinai hospital, was one of about 400 workers at the hospital who organized a union in June 2019, and threatened to strike in November 2019 before winning a contract that would raise wages for all workers to $15 an hour.

She works two to three jobs, including as a delivery driver for Uber Eats, to make ends meet while working full-time at the hospital.

Michael Sainato, February 17 2020, Guardian

In the News – Shouldn’t workers be doing better in this booming economy?

Despite unemployment at a near 50-year low, a soaring stock market and the longest expansion in US history, the recovery hasn’t yet reached these millions in economic hard times, say these analysts.

Even as wages overall are rising, about 50 percent of US workers received no pay raises last year, according to Bankrate. And in real terms, some say average salaries are stagnant.

“Today’s average inflation-adjusted wage in America has the same purchasing power that it did in 1978,” Liam Hunt, a market analyst at SophisticatedInvestor.com, told The Post. “That’s despite macroeconomic growth in terms of GDP, salary increases for the highest bracket of income earners and rapidly rising home costs,” he added. “In a growing economy, we should see real wage growth, though we haven’t.”

John Aidan Byrne, February 22, 2020, NY POST

Jeb Bush: People Need to Work Longer Hours – Comment from long ago primary

During an interview that was live-streamed on the app Periscope, Bush made the comments to New Hampshire’s The Union Leader answering a question about his plans for tax reform.

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Candace Smith, July 8, 2015, ABC NEWS

‘Glass House’ Chronicles The Sharp Decline Of An All-American Factory Town

Lancaster, Ohio, the home of the Fortune 500 company Anchor Hocking, was once a bustling center of industry and employment. At its peak following World War II, Lancaster’s hometown company was the world’s largest maker of glassware and employed more than 5,000 town residents.

Though Anchor Hocking remains in Lancaster today, it is a shell of its former self, and the once thriving town is beset by underemployment and drug abuse. Lancaster native Brian Alexander chronicles the rise and fall of his hometown in his new book, Glass House.

“People are genuinely struggling,” he tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. “The economy of the town is struggling, not because there’s high unemployment, [but] because the employment that there is all minimum wage, or even lower than minimum wage.”

Fresh Air, February 6, 2017. NPR

Disney’s abuse of H1B system

ORLANDO, Fla. — The employees who kept the data systems humming in the vast Walt Disney fantasy fief did not suspect trouble when they were suddenly summoned to meetings with their boss.

While families rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and searched for Nemo on clamobiles in the theme parks, these workers monitored computers in industrial buildings nearby, making sure millions of Walt Disney World ticket sales, store purchases and hotel reservations went through without a hitch. Some were performing so well that they thought they had been called in for bonuses.

Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.

“I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly


Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements
. NYTIMES
Julia Preston, June 3, 2015

The Fight for Housing in California

In California, more than 100,000 people sleep on the streets. The tent cities in Los Angeles’s skid row have distinct neighborhoods, and across from a homelessness center, the bodies on the sidewalk are four rows deep. Trailers line the streets near Google’s Mountain View headquarters, and in Modesto, a woman sleeping in a cardboard box was crushed to death by a front loader that came to clear her encampment away.

Francesca Mari, NY Times
Review of:
GOLDEN GATES
Fighting for Housing in America
By Conor Dougherty

Simplification of skilled work

And here’s the corollary: over here, Ford, GM, Boeing, Caterpillar, and others want us to be lower skilled. Wait, they prefer low-skilled workers? Yes. Now that’s contrary to what you and I are told; it’s contrary to what President Obama, the pundits, and even the companies are saying. It’s the world turned upside down. I know it’s hard to believe. After all, if it’s true that corporations don’t want us to be higher skilled, then it’s pretty demoralizing for those of us who would like to push for more education, more job training. What’s the point, right?

But before you dismiss the claim, listen to what David has to say about how things have changed over time at Ford. “They have a system there,” he said. “I like to call it ‘Simplicity.’ It’s to break everything down into the simplest possible tasks.” Indeed, he claims that both the hourly and the salaried positions are being simplified. By that David means that there used to be skill sets, or different levels of work. In the old labor contracts these skill sets had names, “classifications.” It might be General Utility or Repair. The newbies would say, “Hey, I see that guy over there. How can I do what he’s doing?” It used to mean more pay. One went to Ford to move up and develop higher skills in order to get more pay.

Well, that’s gone.

The “classifications” in general may soon disappear. Or let’s put it this way: entry level will be the classification, and people will stay there. Even if people learn higher skills, which used to lead to more money, they will stay at the entry level, at entry-level pay. And here I’d add that in nonunion places it is even harder to move up. People start at welder at $17 an hour, and they stay at welder at $17 an hour.

There is a puzzle about welder pay,
which lately has received comment in the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. The puzzle is that there is a shortage of welders, and employers moan about it. But the pay is stuck at $17 an hour, where it’s been for years. That means the real inflation-adjusted wage is dropping. Even with a shortage of labor, the wage drops. But worse, after the welder starts and gains experience, the pay does not go up.

Geoghegan, Thomas. Only One Thing Can Save Us
Amazon

Is labor’s day over or is labor the only real answer for our time? In this new book, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan argues that even as organized labor seems to be crumbling, a revived—but different—labor movement is now more relevant than ever in our increasingly unequal society.