“Educated Fools” – Thomas Geoghegan, The New Republic

In fact, the college graduates who are now the base of the party have moved working people out of the old neighborhoods. I think here of my own city—Chicago—where the members of the City Council whom columnists from Ben Hecht to Mike Royko used to mock now have more degrees than reporters of Hecht’s generation had. Here’s the finding of a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago: In 1970, one half of Chicago by census tract was “middle-income”—that is to say, the people who made up the old working-class machine vote, most of them without four-year college degrees. Now that “middle-income” group is just 16 percent. The bungalows in those formerly middle-income neighborhoods teeming with high school graduates now belong to high-tech entrepreneurs and investors in hedge funds.

Thomas Geoghegan, New Republic

Apartments for rent in Denver: What will $1,100 get you?

Listed at $1,005/month, this studio apartment is located at 1431 Humboldt St. South.

In the apartment, you can expect a dishwasher. Amenities offered in the building include a resident lounge and on-site laundry. Pet owners, take heed: This property is both dog-friendly and cat-friendly. There’s no leasing fee required for this rental.

Walk Score indicates that the surrounding area is a “walker’s paradise,” is convenient for biking and offers many nearby public transportation options.

hoodline

Should Coal Miners Learn To Code? Slashdot discusses

During a campaign event on Monday, U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden “suggested coal miners could simply learn to code to transition to ‘jobs of the future,'” reports Newsweek:
“Anybody who can go down 300 to 3,000 feet in a mine, sure in hell can learn to program as well, but we don’t think of it that way,” he said… “Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program for God’s sake…”

Many Twitter users criticized Biden’s comments as reductive. “Telling people to find other work without a firm plan to help them succeed will never be popular,” communications professional Frank Lutz wrote… Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted that she was “glad to see the recognition that you don’t need to be in your 20s to do this as a profession,” but also called Biden’s suggestion “tone-deaf and unhelpful.”

Long-time Slashdot reader theodp notes the response this speech got from New York magazine’s Sarah Jones: “Please Stop Telling Miners To Learn To Code.” And in comments on the original submission, at least two Slashdot readers seemed to agree. “Not everyone can code and certainly not every coal miner or coal worker,” wrote Slashdot reader I75BJC. “Vastly different skills.”

Slashdot reader Iwastheone even shared a Fox News article in which rival presidential candidate Andrew Yang argued “Maybe Americans don’t all want to learn how to code… Let them do the kind of work they actually want to do, instead of saying to a group of people that you all need to become coders.”

But is there something elitist in thinking that coal miners couldn’t learn to do what coders learned to do? It seems like an interesting question for discussion

Slashdot

Thousands of Google’s cafeteria workers have unionized

The workers who voted to unionize earn wages that start at around $35,000 a year, according to a source familiar with the matter. And they say they don’t receive all the same benefits such as retirement plans that are standard for full-time Google employees. Their move to organize represents a symbolic pushback against the status quo of growing economic inequality in Silicon Valley, where all but the top 10 percent of income earners have seen their wages decline from 1997 to 2017.

 

Shirin Ghaffary, vox

10 assorted things from the 2010s

2010
the iPad is released

iPad (/ˈaɪpæd/ EYE-pad) is a line of tablet computers designed, developed and marketed by Apple Inc., which run the iOS and iPadOS mobile operating systems. The first iPad was released on April 3, 2010.

wikipedia


2011
The budget deficit is an ongoing problem

April 18 – Standard & Poor’s downgrades its outlook on long-term sovereign debt of the United States to negative from stable for the first time in history, citing “very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness” as for why it did so. A statement from Standard & Poor’s explained its reasoning; “We believe there is a material risk that U. S. policy-makers might not reach an agreement on how to address medium- and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013; if an agreement is not reached…this would…render the U.S. fiscal profile meaningfully weaker than [its peers]”.

wikipedia


2012
Voters vote to make Marijuana Legal for Recreational Use

Colorado Amendment 64 was a successful popular initiative ballot measure to amend the Constitution of the State of Colorado, outlining a statewide drug policy for cannabis. The measure passed on November 6, 2012, and along with a similar measure in Washington state, marked “an electoral first not only for America but for the world.”

wikipedia


2013
NSA Shenanigans Exposed

June 9 – The Guardian and Washington Post disclose former Booz Allen contract employee Edward Snowden as their source for the intelligence related information recently published. Both published stories revealing the existence of PRISM, a program they say allows the NSA to extract the details of customer activities — including “audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents” and other materials — from computers at Microsoft, Google, Apple and other internet companies.

CNN


2014
US stance regarding Cuba changes somewhat:

President Obama made a landmark announcement in mid-December declaring that the U.S. would begin restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba by re-opening an embassy in Havana and softening the travel restrictions on the long-banned country.

ABC News


2015
Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli jacks up drug price x 56

On September 17, 2015, Dave Muoio of Healio, an in-depth clinical information website for health care specialists, reported on a letter from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association to executives at Turing, questioning a new pricing for Daraprim. The price of a dose of the drug in the U.S. market increased from US$13.50 to US$750 per pill, overnight, a factor of 56.

wikipedia


2016
Prince and Bowie die
( see also: John Oliver – Fuck You 2016! )


2017
There is an eclipse

A total solar eclipse (nicknamed “The Great American Eclipse”) is visible within a band across the entire contiguous United States of America, passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.

wikipedia


2018
Electric scooters become ubiquitous in Denver
Adios 2018


2019
Last season of Game of Thrones
See also sexposition:

In visual media such as television and film, sexposition is the technique of providing exposition against a backdrop of sex or nudity. The Financial Times defined sexposition as “keeping viewers hooked by combining complex plot exposition with explicit sexual goings-on”. Its purpose, according to James Poniewozik, is to divert the audience and give characters something to do while exposition is being delivered, which is what distinguishes sexposition from merely gratuitous titillation.

Mobile Phone Tracking – The Times Looks Into

The Times Privacy Project was given access to a data set with more than 50 billion location “pings” from the phones of more than 12 million Americans across several major cities. Each piece of information came down to a set of coordinates in time. The result is a tapestry of movement laid across a city grid — like the computer game SimCity, only real.

Americans would never consent to a government directive that all citizens carry a device that broadcast, in real time, their physical location and archived that information in repositories that could be shared among powerful, faceless institutions. Instead, Americans have been lulled into doing it voluntarily by misleading companies.

If a mobile phone is turned on, chances are its location is collected in a spreadsheet somewhere. What does it feel like to see that archive? We went to Pasadena to find out.

NYTIMES

In the News – December 24, 2019

Boeing’s fired CEO could walk away with a $60 million golden parachute
https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/24/tech/boeing-ceo-dennis-muilenburg-severance/index.html

Travis Kalanick severs all ties with Uber, departing board and selling all his shares
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/24/travis-kalanick-to-depart-uber-board-of-directors.html

Hunter Biden owns massive home in swanky Hollywood Hills, court docs reveal
https://nypost.com/2019/12/24/hunter-biden-owns-massive-home-in-swanky-hollywood-hills-court-docs-reveal/

Adam Gase on not caring about fan criticism: ‘I’m rich as f–k’
https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/jets/ny-adam-gase-jets-fans-20191224-aqdwksbo5nditexjl65gvdb6ye-story.html

 

I Got Paid to Improve Rich Kids’ Personalities on Their College Applications – VICE

A lot of what we did is write Common Apps and sort out how we were going to make these students look good. The tough part was that this sometimes involved fabricating activities, or for lack of a better word, “passions.”

The fact of the matter is that these kids don’t have passions, so they are trying to do what others did with the test scores and buy their way in. Trying to fake passion is hard. It’s upsetting that people would pay good money rather than trying to cultivate it themselves.

For instance, there was a kid who ran a 5K for a hospital that was near the school he wanted to go to—a very elite school. I spun that to say he was involved in volunteering at that hospital. They really don’t check that kind of stuff, as long as it’s somewhat believable.

vice

How I Get By: A Week in the Life of a McDonald’s Cashier – VICE

Cierra Brown estimates her commute to work would only take about 25 minutes if she had a car. That’s part of the reason she returned to McDonald’s in January: Her car had broken down and she needed money. But at McDonald’s, Brown only earns $9.50 per hour as a cashier, which barely helps cover rent and is far from enough to solve her vehicular woes. Without a car, one of Brown’s main headaches is getting to work. Her typical bus commute to McDonald’s takes as long as two hours each way.

By the time she starts work, she’s already tired. When she gets home, she’s exhausted.

“That is where a lot of my headache comes from,” she told VICE.

At 29, Brown works approximately 40 hours a week, splitting her time between a McDonald’s in Durham, North Carolina, and a food-service gig a local hospital. “It’s still not enough,” she said. Both jobs are part-time, and she doesn’t receive health insurance through either employer. She can’t afford insurance on her own, either. That’s a problem since Brown is diabetic, and she has to pay for her medical expenses out of pocket. She’s trying to do all she can on her own—she receives no food stamps or other assistance, she notes—but it rarely feels like she’s doing enough.

“It’s really rough right now,” she said.

vice

Frank Bruni Interview with Errol Morris Regarding Steve Bannon Doc

The Devil in Steve Bannon
The celebrated filmmaker Errol Morris has a new documentary — and candid remarks — about Donald Trump’s dyspeptic strategist.

Do you think, a couple of years from now, Bannon’s going to be this very curious footnote, this sort of one-off? Or do you think we’re going to be reckoning with what he’s peddling and what he represents for a good, long while?

I have to distinguish what I hope for versus what I really think will happen. I hope all of this is a very bad memory soon: Trump, Bannon, national populism, etc. In one respect, I do agree with Bannon. And I told him so. I grew up in the ’50s. My mother was an elementary-school teacher. My father died when I was 2, and my mother brought up my brother and myself. She took care of everybody, having practically no money, no insurance money from my father’s death.

And I often think, could she have done that today? And the answer is no. I don’t think she could have. There is greater and greater inequality, economic inequality, income and otherwise, in the United States. And I think it’s a very, very bad thing. And I think Bannon is right — that it will have terrible consequences in the long run.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/25/opinion/errol-morris-steve-bannon.html

Gig economy – on demand restaurant work

Gig workers are nothing new in the restaurant world. Every day, contractors on bikes and scooters deliver food for Uber Eats and DoorDash. But in a growing number of kitchens, contract workers now make the food, too.

With the restaurant industry facing its worst labor shortage in decades, Pared and a rival app, Instawork, are filling a growing void, as managers who have struggled to recruit permanent employees turn to the on-demand services for workers trained as dishwashers, servers, line cooks and even oyster shuckers.

Among them is Mr. Mortenson, who said he could not imagine going back to a full-time restaurant job. “I’m making more money than I have ever made in this industry,” he said. “This is crazy.”

Part of the appeal, he said, is that the app exposes him to new experiences, whether icing gingerbread cookies at Bouchon Bakery or cooking short ribs for Twitter employees at the cafe in the company’s New York office.

“It doesn’t make me a better cook,” he said. “But it’s so amazing to go into a new restaurant every day.”

Cooking Eggs in the Morning and Shucking Oysters at Night, Thanks to an App

Harvard Study: 60% of Bankruptcies Caused by Health Problems

A new study finds that more than 60% of personal bankruptcies in the United States in 2007 were caused by health-care costs associated with a major illness. That’s a 50% increase in the number of bankruptcies blamed on medical expenses since a similar study in 2001.

In an article published in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, the results of the first-ever national random-sample survey of bankruptcy filers shows that illnesses and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of bankruptcies.

Consumer Affairs, Truman Lewis

This bunk bed is $1,200 a month, privacy not included – CNN

Housing costs have become so expensive in some cities that people are renting bunk beds in a communal home for $1,200 a month. Not a bedroom. A bed.

PodShare is trying to help make up for the shortage of affordable housing in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles by renting dormitory-style lodging and providing tenants a co-living experience.

A PodShare membership allows you to snag any of the 220 beds — or pods — at six locations across Los Angeles and one in San Francisco. There’s no deposit and no commitment. You get a bed, a locker, access to wifi and the chance to meet fellow “pod-estrians.” Each pod includes a shelf and a personal television. Food staples, like cereal and ramen, and toiletries like toothpaste and toilet paper, are also included.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/05/success/podshare-co-living/index.html

 

Supercommuter

FOUR DAYS A week Andy Ross travels—by car, train, and bus—120 miles from his home in Auburn, California, to his job at a bank in San Francisco. His eight-hour round-trip typically begins at 6 a.m. He’ll be at his desk by 10, having begun work earlier on his laptop. He leaves the office by 4 p.m. and arrives home about 8.

Ross became a “supercommuter” eight years ago, after he left a tech business and took the bank job. He joined nearly 105,000 people who spend at least 90 minutes getting to jobs in the Bay Area. Ross and his wife kept their four-bedroom home in Auburn rather than move to San Francisco, where the median price is $1.4 million—more than three times that in Auburn. “I love working at my job. As a result, I’m now doing this crazy commute,” he says. “There are a lot more of us long-haul commuters” than a decade ago.

National Geographic April 2019 edition

Working conditions of movie theater janitors

The major chains — AMC, Regal Entertainment and Cinemark — no longer rely on teenage ushers to keep the floors from getting sticky. Instead, they have turned to a vast immigrant workforce, often hired through layers of subcontractors. That arrangement makes it almost impossible for janitors to make a living wage.

Alvarez got hurt on the job, and a doctor recommended a lighter workload. When she made that request in April 2015, she was fired. The following year, she filed a California Labor Commission claim for unpaid wages, including overtime. The hearing officer awarded her $80,000 in back pay and penalties. But Alvarez could not collect. She did not work directly for AMC or its janitorial contractor, ACS Enterprises, which shielded them from liability. Instead, she worked for a couple — Alfredo Dominguez and Caritina Diaz — who had not even shown up to the hearing.

Even Dominguez and Diaz didn’t consider her an actual employee. In their minds, she was a contractor of a contractor of a contractor of AMC Theatres. AMC and ACS did send an attorney to fight her wage claim. In the end, the companies agreed to pay her $3,500 to go away.

Over the last eight months, Variety has investigated wage complaints from movie theater janitors across the country, reviewing class-action lawsuits, state labor commission records and investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor. A clear pattern emerged: AMC and other theater chains keep their costs down by relying on janitorial contractors that use subcontracted labor. Those janitors typically have no wage or job protections, toiling on one of the lowest rungs of the U.S. labor market.

After Rob Winters was barred from California, ACS took over many of his accounts, including the Regal theater at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. Working conditions remained much the same, says Georgina Hernandez, who was a janitor there. She worked seven days a week, sometimes 10-11 hours a day, and was paid $400 a week. She quit after two years and took a job cleaning offices.

How America’s Biggest Theater Chains Are Exploiting Their Janitors, Variety, GENE MADDAUS

Why America’s New Apartment Buildings All Look the Same

Cheap stick framing has led to a proliferation of blocky, forgettable mid-rises—and more than a few construction fires.

Labor Day podcast episode on where the labor movement is now

http://radioopensource .org/a-new-labor-movement/

It’s Labor Day week 2018, and “The American Worker” doesn’t fit any single poster shot. Is it the Uber driver – working flex time in the ‘gig’ economy, for a magic dispatcher of taxis around the world? Is it the brainiac Google engineers insisting to their CEO that “we need to know what we’re building?” In a gilded, globalized, unequal economy of work today, the old industrial unions are almost gone. But suddenly non-union professionals feeling dealt out of pay and power are shouting, we’re workers, too, and forming unions: graduate students at great universities, magazine writers at the ritzy New Yorker. Prisoners, too, and sex workers, coming out of the shadows to claim rights, and respect, as workers, with skills, thank you. Plus hospital nurses and public school teachers coast to coast.

The midterm measure of the American mood in Trump-time may well turn out to be not – or not just – the off-year House and Senate election scorecard, but the work-place turbulence all over the map this year. Workers who never organized before – in grad schools, in media, in sex work, in prisons – are talking solidarity. And notice the word “strike” is back in circulation, inspired maybe by the furious telemarketers in the seriously funny fantasy film, Sorry to Bother You. In the movie they shout “Phones down!” In real Boston, this week, housekeepers in three Marriott-owned hotels downtown could soon be shouting “Mops down!” in their fight for a new contract.

We’re in the work-place, not the political arena, this hour, though of course they’re connected as soon as workers say it’s all about the power of the corporate class, a fight about places at the table and restoring an idea of people-power democracy.

 

Residential Architecture

Patchwork Quilt-ism?

This building is in Denver, on Broadway and just south of I-25. The boxiness is fine, the color scheme chaps my hide though. Loud and inharmonious. Reminds me of the old orange roof on Howard Johnson’s. Least that had the justification of letting people know there’s some place to eat.

20180824_184236

WBUR is on it ->

In cities like Seattle, Boston, Denver and Charlotte, new “luxury” condos and apartment buildings are going up to meet demand for new housing. But many of these buildings look like simple, plain boxes.

Those ‘Luxury’ Condos Look A Little Drab

Living Wage Calculator – MIT

Families and individuals working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to meet minimum standards given the local cost of living. We developed a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region based on typical expenses. The tool helps individuals, communities, and employers determine a local wage rate that allows residents to meet minimum standards of living. 

Living Wage for DenverlivingwageDenver