A report from Burma (Update #14)

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 28, 2021, 9:20 am

  2. March 28, 2021, 8:17 pm:

    • My car has reached the end of its road.

      Despite my fury at being stuck driving for Uber and Lyft (see original text below), I was driving again today, when the engine died. The console displayed “Check Hybrid System” and “Check VSC System.”

      These indications have been a recurring problem. By the time the dealer looks at the car, they’ve disappeared without a trace. And they don’t recur for several thousand utterly unpredictable miles.

      The last time this happened, I speculatively had a relay replaced. It was the cheapest of three possible causes of the problem. That was last July (2020) and I figured I was in luck, that this had fixed the problem.

      But today, it was back. I called a tow truck and had the car towed. But when we got to the Toyota dealer, who would have to deal with this sort of thing, the indications had cleared, suggesting that we were back in the situation where, yet again, the dealer wouldn’t be able to reproduce the problem.

      So I tried going back out, on the theory it would be several thousand miles until the next failure. No such luck. It failed again, with a passenger in the car this time.

      It was all I could do to get it home. I have removed all my belongings from it. My plan now is to junk it tomorrow, one way or another.

      When I look at my spreadsheet and I look at the amount above average in vehicle costs in the time (since I started working for Lyft and Uber in 2016) over 2020 and 2021, the total is $7,642.85. I very nearly could have bought another used car from my dealer in Rohnert Park, California, for that amount.

      That average includes the time driving in Pittsburgh, with its abysmal roads, so the excess since the beginning of 2020 is likely underestimated. But the excess also includes the damage from those roads, damage I hope to mitigate with a future, larger vehicle that will be better able to absorb the punishment.

      I will have to think hard about whether that vehicle will be another hybrid. Much as I like Toyota’s hybrid system—and I really do like it—the only mechanics around Pittsburgh who can work on hybrid systems are dealers, with whom my experience has not been great.

      Although the thought of letting Pittsburgh, especially the people here, destroy another vehicle is not even in the slightest bit enticing.

      I am hating this life. Every last bit of it.

  3. March 29, 2021, 1:13 pm:

    • Lindsey Graham says he “needs his own AR-15 . . . in case disaster strikes and he needs to defend his home against a roving ‘gang.’”[1] There is a new blog post entitled, “The thin logic of gun nuttery.”

    • So I woke up this morning and I ran some numbers. It turns out that for all the mileage (about 1,200) I put on a car in a week, I can rent a car through Uber’s deal with Hertz or Avis nearly as cheaply.

      Perhaps I missed a merger, but at least in Pittsburgh, it very much appears that Avis and Budget share locations, and the last time I rented a car through Budget, they charged me $600 too much. I’m not doing that again and I’m not trusting Avis to be separate enough from Budget. So it’s Hertz for me.

      But after accepting a reservation, and after I’d already gotten into an Uber to get clear across town to the one location that deals with Uber, I got a phone call from that location. They don’t have cars available.

      This isn’t just this location or this company. Probably any Uber or Lyft driver around Pittsburgh can tell you a story of ferrying passengers around trying to hook up with a rental car. After the company has accepted the reservation for a nonexistent car. As near as I can tell, this is because, for unknown reasons, all rental car companies in Pittsburgh hoard all their cars at the airport. Which isn’t the location that deals with Uber.

  4. March 29, 2021, 3:06 pm:

    • The universe is screaming at me that this plan doesn’t work.

      The only suggestions I have involve compromise. My god. All I have done my entire life is compromise. Because it was all I could see to do. And look where it’s gotten me. Right where I am.

      Is it really asking so much that there should be a plan that makes some kind of fucking sense? That might actually work?

      • You know, instead of let’s just see how much more the capitalists can exploit me and treat me worse than shit. Even with a Ph.D.

      • You know, instead of let’s just see how many more seven day weeks I can tolerate with no life, no hope of a life, because I’m working all the time, trying to keep the wolves at bay.

      • You know, instead of letting Pittsburgh roads and Pittsburgh people destroy yet another car so I can go on not even making minimum wage, let alone a living wage. Oh, but still owing taxes.

      • You know, instead of having nothing for when I’m too old and decrepit to keep working but working seven days a week until that happens. Oh, and then ending up homeless because I have, well, nothing.

      Yeah, I think there really needs to be a better plan than this. But people have been ignoring me, ignoring my job applications, ignoring my humanity for twenty years, even as I returned to school, finished a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. It’s not their problem, they say. It’s never anybody’s problem.

      Just keep doing some flavor of what doesn’t work, they say. It doesn’t even remotely begin to make even a shard of sense, but keep fucking doing it.

      I’ll be 62 years old on April 29. I’m running out of time. So, sorry, but yes, I need a much better fucking plan than this.

  5. March 29, 2021, 3:52 pm:

    • The Crack’d Egg is back at it, trying yet again to open without complying with COVID-19 mitigation measures,[2] after having initially remaining open and flaunting their refusal to comply,[3] trying and failing to evade the orders with a bankruptcy filing,[4] closing rather than complying with the rules,[5] trying and finally failing to get an injunction against the order to comply with the rules.[6] At some point, you kinda have to think surely they’ll win at least one ruling. But it hasn’t happened yet.

  6. March 30, 2021, 1:37 am:

    • Because the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been so uneven around the globe, in part due to drug manufacturers’ insistence on preserving their intellectual property ‘rights,’[7] new, deadlier, and more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus will require new vaccines within a year.[8] This is apparently without even considering vaccine hesitancy in countries that have access to the vaccine.[9]

  7. March 30, 2021, 1:16 pm:

    • I have decided, after all, and very much at the risk of throwing good money after bad, decided to repair my car. It has a great sound system. A lot of the damage from Pittsburgh roads has recently been repaired. Hell, I just got it through its annual inspection.

      My intention, however, is not to return it to service driving for Uber and Lyft. This was something I never wanted to do to it in the first place. But did because I can’t find a fucking job.[10]

      So there are two immediate parts to this plan:

      • Get the car to Rohrich Toyota and let them fix it. I got it there. It still has the “check hybrid system” indication so they should be able to read a code. Hopefully they can fix it, however many thousands of dollars that will cost.

      • Rent a car through Uber at a discount rate that (see update from March 28, 2021, at 8:17 pm) appears comparable to the cost of operating my car but where somebody else absorbs much of the risk.

        This part ain’t going so well. There was the initial failure yesterday (see update from March 29, 2021, at 1:18 pm) that so far appears to be a repeat today (figure 1).


        Fig. 1. Screenshot of Twitter message to Hertz Car Rental, March 30, 2021, by author.

    • One of the things I’ve noticed since coming to Pittsburgh is that a lot of people here, including really well-paid people, really don’t seem to understand how to take care of business.

      There’s the Sunoco Oil credit card that I don’t use because I get too many spurious declines with it. There’s Dollar Bank, whose debit card seems similarly, though less severely, stupid. There’s that fiasco I had with AT&T, which is why I’m no longer an AT&T customer.[11] There are the Toyota dealers who’ve repeatedly told me that maintenance was required for things that wouldn’t need it for tens of thousands of miles yet to go.

      Today, I have Rohrich Toyota, whose service writer warns me they may not be able to get to my car until next week because they’re so far backed up. And I have this utter fuck up of a rental car company.

      Now, I know better. This is not how I do business. But here in Pittsburgh, they just say, “It is what it is,” throw their hands up, and refuse to challenge it. You hear it again and again, whether it’s traffic, a stop light, a multitude of road conditions, or something else: “It is what it is.”

      It’s an embrace not just of despair but of incompetence. My father would be on the warpath, probably going nuclear. And I gotta tell you, on this, I think he’d be right.

      And all this, of course, while I not only can’t get a real fucking job, but suffer the abuse of being an Uber and Lyft driver, even with a Ph.D.[12] Are you kidding me? I mean, seriously, this all has to be an incredibly bad joke.

  8. March 30, 2021, 5:40 pm:


    • Fig. 2. Screenshot of Twitter conversation with Hertz Car Rental, March 30, 2021, by author.

      I have found, and others have told me as well, that Twitter is often the very best way to get the attention of an unresponsive corporation. There is the implicit threat that your tweet will go viral. And, at the same time, there are actual humans manning the messaging function, where if you go any other way, you get lost in some phone or website menu system that expects your query to be a frequently asked question and doesn’t respond well when, as nearly always in my case, it isn’t.

      But with Hertz Car Rental, this is moving at a glacial pace.

      Meanwhile, that was a cute little $90 Uber trip to fetch my laundry because I now don’t have a car. (It was probably about $20 for the driver.) I had hoped to pick up the laundry on the way back from picking up the rental car. (And no, I don’t really dare continuing to drive my car with a hybrid system malfunction. That needs to be fixed.)

      Oh, and annoying too. I had a driver who claimed to have researched COVID-19 and conversed with well-credentialed scientists who backed his conspiracy theories.

    • source on threadreaderapp.com
      Archived at 2021-03-30 17:17:24

      Pittsburgh Green Left 🌻🥑 Profile picture

      Pittsburgh Green Left 🌻🥑

      Follow @PghGreenLeft

      30 Mar, 6 tweets, 2 min read

      The more cops try to explain their violence away as “well that was just my training”, the more it opens people’s eyes to the cruelty of the system. I don’t know how these individual cases will go but I think they’re losing the long-term public support the more they push.

      Some of my family is fairly conservative and even a few police in my family. As such some of my family was pretty adamant about how tough it is being an officer & the need to support them. Even they are having second thoughts learning what really goes on in jail & court.

      When the cops start losing the support of my Republican family members, we know there’s a shift going on.

      Cops of course could reverse this trend by toning it down even slightly, but much like capitalism, they are compelled to take it to extremes, always.

      Violent policing IS part of capitalism. The system is inherently violent and repressive. You’re not going to fix that – and the inability of cops to take responsibility for even the most egregious, obvious violence is beginning to open eyes to the nature of this system.

      The fact that politicians can’t help stumbling over themselves to fling even greater amounts of money at the cops – while cutting essential social services and botching a pandemic response – is further evidence that the ultimate power is capitalism, not the electoral system.

      Empires throughout history have made similar mistakes. In the wane of empire, they become paranoid and put all of their resources into “security”. But their safety is now in the hands of thugs who will turn on them, facing an angry population realizing it has always held power.

    • This, of course, will apply only until COVID-19 variants that evade the vaccine begin to spread.[13]

  9. March 30, 2021, 6:29 pm:

    • A quick Google search confirms that Avis and Budget are indeed a single entity, and thus that their coexistence in so many offices around Pittsburgh is no accident.

      I am really, really unhappy about being compelled to go to Avis, which is Uber’s alternative to Hertz. But my god. Hertz really seems to be “lights on, nobody home.” I’m gobsmacked.

  10. March 31, 2021, 10:45 am:

    • In a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, people who have actually been infected with the novel coronavirus may have a T-cell response to the variants[14] that already seem problematic.[15] This source says nothing about people who have been vaccinated[16] so I guess the prudent thing is to continue to assume new vaccines will still be needed[17] even if vaccine hesitancy[18] and a failure to distribute vaccines globally[19] are overcome.

    • An Uber is on the way to take me to the Avis location. The last time I rented from this location, the car had not been cleaned and smelled of cigarette smoke.

  11. March 31, 2021, 1:14 pm:

    • If before (see update for March 29, 2021, 3:06 pm) I was feeling that the universe was screaming at me that being an Uber/Lyft driver wasn’t working, I am feeling it doubly so, now.

      When I didn’t see rates conforming to what Uber had offered for rental cars on the Avis site, I figured this was a case of bait and switch. But my mother—and I don’t know how she did this without my even telling her my suspicion—found the clue. I had somehow managed not to get a reservation under Uber’s auspices but rather as an ordinary customer.

      Which, it turns out, is why I have a rental car now. A car, by the way, that I’m sure meets Uber’s requirements.

      I got there, hoping to sort all this out, and the man behind the counter said I’d have to make a new reservation and that he didn’t have any “Uber cars” right now. Which, given the sufficiency of the car I got, is to remind me that as an Uber driver, I am a second- or third-class citizen.

      So I took the car I had reserved. I have it for a week. I drove to my mailbox and picked up my mail, then drove home. It beats spending $90 for a round trip to Dormont, of which the driver might have gotten around $20 (see update for March 30, 2021, 5:40 pm), and wondering if I’m even going to be able to get a ride, which is pretty much the state of things for Uber and Lyft passengers these days.

      But I’m sorry. All I’m asking for is a life that makes some kind of sense. I don’t have it. And I can’t make whatever the fuck it is I’ve been doing work anymore. Just can’t.

  12. March 31, 2021, 7:59 pm:

  13. March 31, 2021, 9:12 pm:

  14. April 1, 2021, 7:48 pm:

    • There is a new blog post entitled, “Having trouble getting an Uber? Think about how you’ve been treating your drivers.

    • There is news on my car and it is, overall, much better than expected:

      1. The bad news is that, yet again, they are unable to reproduce the problem. They see a code in the history, so they know it threw one.

      2. The last time this happened, there were three possible causes, so I had them repair the cheapest, on the idea of beginning a process of elimination. Now, there are only two.

      3. It turns out that both remaining possible causes are far cheaper to repair than I had earlier been told. I don’t know why the difference but that’s what they’re telling me today. I’ve told them to proceed with both. Because it’d be nice to kill this problem once and for all, particularly if, as I’m expecting to do early next year, I’m going to drive this car across country and back. I’m expecting the car back tomorrow.

      But the plan to rent a car for Uber and Lyft—much as I hate this gig bullshit, I still have no alternative—remains problematic. It doesn’t appear possible to do it through Avis online. And calling in, I just got the runaround.


Burma

source on threadreaderapp.com

Archived at 2021-03-28 08:15:29

Thread Reader

Dr. Betina Hsieh 謝原真 Profile picture

Dr. Betina Hsieh 謝原真

Follow @ProfHsieh

27 Mar, 8 tweets, 3 min read

Update: I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a message from my sister. As expected, it’s been absolutely brutal. They shot into her house. And are in her street. The military is shooting randomly at any sign of life, trying to scare people into the streets 1/

In the streets, they will be arrested, shot or killed. My sister said someone in her neighborhood was killed and two of her friends were arrested. She is still safe but they are lying on the floor to avoid being seen because the military is still outside in the street. 😢 2/

As of a couple of hours ago over 150 have died just today. I’m sure it’s more now. Please continue to pray for her and her mom, the people and the country as they undergo this terrible violence and humanitarian crisis. 3/

For now, the military has left her street but they warned that they will be back at midnight. At that point, the Internet will be cut off and she won’t be able to give me updates. They have prepared for an emergency as they fear the military will go house-by-house shooting. 4/

They cannot leave the house as the military has said that anyone in the streets between 7pm and 5am will be shot. Their only option is to stay at home with the door locked & hope for the best, listening outside for when the military leaves. 5/

This article provides some analysis of the diplomatic complexities at play: bbc.com/news/amp/world… 6/

My heart is for my family and the #Burmese people. We and they need your prayers and there needs to be international pressure to stop the continuing human rights violations in #Burma #Myanmar This is not an internal affair. #March27Coup

Another article on the “Day of Shame” and the mass killings by the military. The number of dead is in unverified and likely underreported, given what my sister is saying about how they are collecting the bodies of victims: aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/27… 7/

Betina Hsieh, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, March 27, 2021, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1375795649732431874.html


Gun nuttery

Tim Elfrink, “Lindsey Graham says he needs AR-15 for defense: ‘My house will be the last one that the gang will come to,’” Washington Post, March 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/29/lindsey-graham-ar15-defense-disaster/


Pandemic

Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists

Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg asks court to allow maskless customers in restaurant,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/crackd-egg-asks-court-to-allow-maskless-customers-in-restaurant/

Julie Steenhuysen, “T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study,” Reuters, March 30, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-variants-idUSKBN2BM3BZ

Laurel Wamsley, “Florida Gov. DeSantis Rejects Vaccine Passports As ‘Completely Unacceptable,’” National Public Radio, March 30, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/03/30/982837517/florida-gov-desantis-rejects-vaccine-passports-as-completely-unacceptable


Yes, I’m throwing a tantrum. I woke up this morning (March 28, 2021) to find my rating on Uber had dropped to 4.87 though Uber still labels me as having “high ratings.” I have to assume the decline is due to my sign (figure 1).

Fig. 1. Sign for Uber and Lyft passengers made by author, March 25, 2021.

It is apparent to me that telling people they shouldn’t hate on each other and themselves is the cause. You will notice that, in the second and most recently added bullet point, I do not specify the terms I object to. But it is also clear that people understand that they shouldn’t drop the n-word or ‘bitch’ or ‘ho’ in my car, because I’ve hardly heard those words since putting this version up. I am flabbergasted.

In terms of employment and the quest for employment, I have borne nothing but insult for five long years since earning my Ph.D. and twenty years since the dot-com crash (my only respite was in academia). I have reached the limits of my tolerance, not only for the bullshit I tolerate with Uber and Lyft, but with low wage work in general.[21] No human should have to tolerate this.

I have to have a way out. Now. No more bullshit. No more excuses. I want, need, and must have a real job,[22] as should be utterly uncontroversial:

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:

    (a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:

      (i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work;

      (ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;

    (b) Safe and healthy working conditions;

    (c) Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of seniority and competence;

    (d ) Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays[23]

And if I don’t get it, I don’t know what happens, but it won’t be good.

Because this bullshit has to end. There are limits to my endurance. I have retreated and I have compromised as far as I can. I have gone as far as I can go, and I can go no further, tolerate no more.

And if you think I’m being unreasonable, sorry, but that says a helluva lot more about you than it does me.


  1. [1]Tim Elfrink, “Lindsey Graham says he needs AR-15 for defense: ‘My house will be the last one that the gang will come to,’” Washington Post, March 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/29/lindsey-graham-ar15-defense-disaster/
  2. [2]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg asks court to allow maskless customers in restaurant,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/crackd-egg-asks-court-to-allow-maskless-customers-in-restaurant/
  3. [3]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/
  4. [4]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge to rule on Crack’d Egg restaurant closure order next week,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-to-rule-on-crackd-egg-restaurant-closure-order-next-week/; Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/
  5. [5]Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/
  6. [6]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg seeks stay to injunction while appeal is heard,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 8, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-seeks-stay-to-injunction-while-appeal-is-heard/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg restaurant: ‘They’ve largely chosen their fate here,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-restaurant-theyve-largely-chosen-their-fate-here/
  7. [7]Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/
  8. [8]Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists
  9. [9]April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans; Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Facebook steps up campaign to ban false information about coronavirus vaccines,” Washington Post, December 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/03/facebook-covid-vaccine/; Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters; Hannah Wiley, “‘No masks. No vaccines.’ Battle is brewing over coronavirus immunizations in California,” Sacramento Bee, June 26, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article243381501.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “On the alleged ‘efficiency’ of capitalism,” Not Housebroken, March 4, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/04/on-the-alleged-efficiency-of-capitalism/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  13. [13]Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists
  14. [14]Julie Steenhuysen, “T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study,” Reuters, March 30, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-variants-idUSKBN2BM3BZ
  15. [15]Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous
  16. [16]Julie Steenhuysen, “T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study,” Reuters, March 30, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-variants-idUSKBN2BM3BZ
  17. [17]Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists
  18. [18]April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans; Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Facebook steps up campaign to ban false information about coronavirus vaccines,” Washington Post, December 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/03/facebook-covid-vaccine/; Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters; Hannah Wiley, “‘No masks. No vaccines.’ Battle is brewing over coronavirus immunizations in California,” Sacramento Bee, June 26, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article243381501.html
  19. [19]Natalie Grover, “New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists,” Guardian, March 29, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/new-covid-vaccines-needed-within-year-say-scientists; Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/
  20. [20]Laurel Wamsley, “Florida Gov. DeSantis Rejects Vaccine Passports As ‘Completely Unacceptable,’” National Public Radio, March 30, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/03/30/982837517/florida-gov-desantis-rejects-vaccine-passports-as-completely-unacceptable
  21. [21]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/; David Benfell, “The expendable worker,” Not Housebroken, July 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/05/the-expendable-worker/; David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, January 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/; Johana Bhuiyan, “Amazon ends practice of dipping into drivers’ tips to meet their wage guarantees,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-08-22/amazon-flex-fares-tips; Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/23/amazon-nomadland-film-jeff-bezos-disaster-workers; Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html; Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/; Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/12/16/finally_paying_for_wal_marts_sins_wage_theft_settlement_yields_millions/; Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html; Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html; Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/; Ken Klippenstein, “Documents Show Amazon Is Aware Drivers Pee in Bottles and Even Defecate En Route, Despite Company Denial,” Intercept, March 25, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/03/25/amazon-drivers-pee-bottles-union/; Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/; Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination; Colin Lecher, “How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity,’” Verge, April 25, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/25/18516004/amazon-warehouse-fulfillment-centers-productivity-firing-terminations; Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Patrick McGreevy and Suhauna Hussain, “California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-14/california-lawsuit-amazon-workplace-conditions-covid-19; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare; Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-workers-protest-unsafe-grueling-conditions-warehouse; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html; Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html; Matt Stieb, “Amazon Called Out for Denying Workers Go to Bathroom in Bottles,” New York, March 25, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/amazon-called-out-for-denying-that-workers-pee-in-bottles.html; Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html
  22. [22]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  23. [23]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx

Jars, not restrooms, because, hey, it’s capitalism and low wage workers aren’t really human anyway

In a more optimistic moment, I succumbed to sentiment—I’ve been doing a lot of that lately—and ordered graduation regalia meant to conform to that I wore to my Ph.D. graduation five years ago (figure 1).

Fig. 1. Photograph by author, March 26, 2021.

And today, since I am home anyway, anticipating side effects from the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 that have yet to seriously materialize,[1] I put together the resulting assemblage and took a photograph (figure 1).

It does not, in all particulars, conform to my recollection. But first, I suspect the database the vendor I ordered this from might have more faithful information recorded than my dim recollection or, perhaps, to a Saybrook University standard more faithful to its history than what has transpired since its absorption into The Chicago School Educational Services; and second, I’m not sure how much it really matters.

If I ever find my way back into academia, there are ceremonial occasions where this regalia could be appropriate.


Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “Medical apartheid and COVID-19 vaccinations.”

I did receive the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine today. My symptoms have, overall, been milder than with the first shot. But I’ve been a bit light-headed, headachy in a way that makes me glad I decided to stay home, with the sort of medicine that in Pennsylvania one needs a card for.

I previously said I’d worn the second mask my mother made for me to the first shot. This was incorrect; it was actually the first. So today, I pulled the second mask out of sequence to wear it for the second shot. (At the end of each day, I boil the mask I’ve worn that day, so there’s really no risk to doing this.)

It will be harder to tell which was the third mask when it comes time for a “booster” for variants that are further enabled by vaccine hesitancy and resistance.[2] From the third mask on, my mother went to a Scot/Irish plaid fabric which I find attractive, but where I can remember which of the first two (brown) masks is which, I’ve completely lost track of which plaid mask is which, except for the last, which is of a significantly different design. I’ve also had to set two masks aside, one because it tended to rest on the tip of my nose rather than covering the bridge as needed, and the other because it seemed just a tad too small. It’s entirely conceivable that one of the latter masks was the third.

The notifications I’m receiving from the Allegheny Health Department suggest to me that we’re having another surge of COVID-19 cases in the county. My vaccination will supposedly not be fully effective for two weeks,[3] that is, until April 9. (Yes, of course, I’ve marked the date.)

April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans


Amazon


Fig. 2. Amazon Logistics email, image via the Intercept,[4] March 25, 2021, fair use.

I keep TravelJohn products in my car because as an Uber/Lyft driver, it’s often hard to stop at a restroom. The downside is that I need to find a trash can about five minutes after use, when they are safe to dispose; these bags do not seal on top.


I’m sorry that Jeff Bezos, the Jean-Luc Picard-wannabe,[5] can’t imagine that he’s this inhumane.[6] But he is. And such inhumanity is pretty much standard operating procedure for low-wage work under capitalism now.[7]

Ken Klippenstein, “Documents Show Amazon Is Aware Drivers Pee in Bottles and Even Defecate En Route, Despite Company Denial,” Intercept, March 25, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/03/25/amazon-drivers-pee-bottles-union/

Matt Stieb, “Amazon Called Out for Denying Workers Go to Bathroom in Bottles,” New York, March 25, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/amazon-called-out-for-denying-that-workers-pee-in-bottles.html



  1. [1]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine,” March 16, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html
  2. [2]Melissa Healy, “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here,’” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-02-23/california-homegrown-coronavirus-strain-looks-increasingly-transmissible-and-dangerous; Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/; Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Vaccine Resisters,” New Yorker, March 5, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-populism/the-vaccine-resisters
  3. [3]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated,” March 23, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html
  4. [4]Ken Klippenstein, “Documents Show Amazon Is Aware Drivers Pee in Bottles and Even Defecate En Route, Despite Company Denial,” Intercept, March 25, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/03/25/amazon-drivers-pee-bottles-union/
  5. [5]Franklin Foer, “Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan,” Atlantic, November 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/11/what-jeff-bezos-wants/598363/
  6. [6]Matt Stieb, “Amazon Called Out for Denying Workers Go to Bathroom in Bottles,” New York, March 25, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/amazon-called-out-for-denying-that-workers-pee-in-bottles.html
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/; David Benfell, “The expendable worker,” Not Housebroken, July 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/05/the-expendable-worker/; David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, January 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/; Johana Bhuiyan, “Amazon ends practice of dipping into drivers’ tips to meet their wage guarantees,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-08-22/amazon-flex-fares-tips; Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/23/amazon-nomadland-film-jeff-bezos-disaster-workers; Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html; Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/; Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/12/16/finally_paying_for_wal_marts_sins_wage_theft_settlement_yields_millions/; Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html; Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html; Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/; Ken Klippenstein, “Documents Show Amazon Is Aware Drivers Pee in Bottles and Even Defecate En Route, Despite Company Denial,” Intercept, March 25, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/03/25/amazon-drivers-pee-bottles-union/; Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/; Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination; Colin Lecher, “How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity,’” Verge, April 25, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/25/18516004/amazon-warehouse-fulfillment-centers-productivity-firing-terminations; Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Patrick McGreevy and Suhauna Hussain, “California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-14/california-lawsuit-amazon-workplace-conditions-covid-19; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare; Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-workers-protest-unsafe-grueling-conditions-warehouse; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html; Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html; Matt Stieb, “Amazon Called Out for Denying Workers Go to Bathroom in Bottles,” New York, March 25, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/amazon-called-out-for-denying-that-workers-pee-in-bottles.html; Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html

The ongoing battle against (self-)hate speech

Filibuster

Sarah Binder, “Mitch McConnell is wrong. Here’s the filibuster’s ‘racial history,’” Washington Post, March 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/24/mitch-mcconnell-is-wrong-heres-filibusters-racial-history/


(c)Rap and Hip Hop

Since the last version of the sign I posted for my Uber and Lyft passengers, I’ve now heard the n-word twice and the words ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ not at all. The tone in the car is markedly improved.

Fig. 1. Latest version of sign produced by author, March 25, 2021.

But I think they don’t like it. My Uber driver ratings continue to decline (down to 4.88, as of this morning, supposedly based on the last 500 passengers), even though I haven’t been playing my music with passengers in the car. That may also be due to the prohibition on eating. So I’ve added the shaming final bullet point, because all the comments I’ve heard from passengers have been positive, some remarking that all this is “common sense,” many expressing dismay that any of this is even a problem.

For some reason, however, Uber still has me marked as having high ratings. I thought the line for that was 4.90. So I guess I have no idea how they’re assessing that.


Endless evil

Amazon

I just don’t even know what to say about working for Amazon anymore. They are an important aspect of the entirely underappreciated evil of low-wage and gig work that has gone on for years,[1] that the world seems to think is just fine for us to endure, just fine for me to endure.

Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/23/amazon-nomadland-film-jeff-bezos-disaster-workers


Guns


Regrettably, it’s time, yet again, to highlight a couple of old blog posts:


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/; David Benfell, “The expendable worker,” Not Housebroken, July 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/05/the-expendable-worker/; Johana Bhuiyan, “Amazon ends practice of dipping into drivers’ tips to meet their wage guarantees,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-08-22/amazon-flex-fares-tips; Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/23/amazon-nomadland-film-jeff-bezos-disaster-workers; Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html; Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/; Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/12/16/finally_paying_for_wal_marts_sins_wage_theft_settlement_yields_millions/; Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html; Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html; Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/; Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/; Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination; Colin Lecher, “How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity,’” Verge, April 25, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/25/18516004/amazon-warehouse-fulfillment-centers-productivity-firing-terminations; Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Patrick McGreevy and Suhauna Hussain, “California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-14/california-lawsuit-amazon-workplace-conditions-covid-19; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare; Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-workers-protest-unsafe-grueling-conditions-warehouse; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html; Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html; Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html

No cheaper rent for me

San Francisco

There is a new blog post entitled, “San Francisco’s political establishment doth protest too much.”

Jill Tucker, “Mayor Breed calls for S.F. school board member to resign over racist tweets directed at Asian Americans,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2021, https://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/Mayor-Breed-calls-for-S-F-school-board-member-to-16040970.php


Housing

It looks like I’m going to have to delay my apartment hunt. Catherine Rampell’s article is certainly bad news[1] but the real reason is a tax bill that’s more than double what I expected. I just don’t see being able to swing a move right now. It’s unfortunate: I turn 62 on April 29, making me eligible for senior housing that I was hoping would mean cheaper rent.

Catherine Rampell, “Rents for the rich are plummeting. Rents for the poor are rising. Why?” Washington Post, March 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/22/rents-rich-are-plummeting-rents-poor-are-rising-why/


  1. [1]Catherine Rampell, “Rents for the rich are plummeting. Rents for the poor are rising. Why?” Washington Post, March 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/22/rents-rich-are-plummeting-rents-poor-are-rising-why/

Yet another way capitalism kills

Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “The lethal dishonesty of ‘intellectual property’ in a pandemic.” The whole issue of intellectual property claims on vaccines[1] hadn’t even occurred to me when I wrote “The capitalist death cult.” But gee, here it is.

Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/


  1. [1]Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/

Bumbling to defend neoliberalism (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 19, 11:05 pm.

  2. March 20, 2021, 10:18 am:

    • [T]wo years ago, angling for the White House herself, [Kamala] Harris, then a senator from California, joked about smoking pot.

      “I have … and I did inhale,” she told the hosts of The Breakfast Club about smoking in college. “It was a long time ago … I think it gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy.”[1]

      But Joe Biden fired five White House staffers for marijuana use and, even as Congress moves toward legalization, apparently wants to keep marijuana criminalized (as shifting the drug from Schedule I to Schedule II would do). And his now-vice president has walked back her support for legalization.[2]

      We might recall that criminalization of marijuana is all about racism.[3]

    • The Guardian, also from Britain, has also picked up the story of Joe Biden’s stumble climbing the stairs to Air Force One.[4] So it’s no longer just the Telegraph.[5]

      That said, I’ll start looking at political ramifications[6] when and if U.S. papers pick up the story. Um, I’m waiting. . . .

  3. March 20, 2021, 11:23 am:

    • The story of Joe Biden’s stumble seems increasingly to be an international but not a domestic story. Agence France-Presse picked it up and the Times of Israel published it.[7]

      There are a couple of issues here. First, that of Biden’s age, mentioned in every story I’ve seen on this, as he is the oldest president ever to take office. Both the Telegraph and Guardian raised arguably ageist questions of Biden’s fitness for office.[8] If we are going to suggest that a stumble on what seems to be a problematic set of stairs[9]—and I’d like to know what makes them problematic—reflects Biden’s physical capacity, we also need a clear line of argument as to how this affects his mental capacity.[10]

      But second is the question of that discrepancy between U.S. and international coverage, suggesting a domestic bias favoring Biden. This needs to be watched.

  4. March 20, 2021, 9:56 pm:

    • I wound up taking someone to Erie today. It was a lovely day for the drive, as clear as Pennsylvania ever gets. Spring hasn’t really sprung yet, but there were trees on both sides of Interstate 79 most of the way up.

      There were also reminders that this was Donald Trump country as, notably, I saw an old freight trailer parked with its side facing the freeway and festooned with campaign posters.

      As I crossed Interstate 90, I remembered the last time I was at this interchange, approaching from the west. I saw the sign for Pittsburgh and felt a tug.

      I pressed on to western Massachusetts, not yet realizing that the housing situation there would not work out.

      I didn’t cover much of Erie but one thing I noticed immediately was the condition of its roads. This was remarkably good. I did get a short ride while I was there with a passenger who said nothing about my sign but spent most of the ride studying it. Her appreciation was reflected in a ludicrously generous tip.

      Erie is a small town. It really doesn’t have the population for me to consider moving up there as an Uber/Lyft driver. But I was thinking about it.

      Once again, though, this was really a losing day. I deadheaded most of the way back. The way Uber pays for rides, trips that are mostly freeway miles really don’t pay as well as local rides on surface streets. That makes trips like this a bad deal.

      At least on that return trip, I could listen to my damned music.


Joe Biden

Apparently there really is a problem with the boarding stairs for Air Force One. But Joe Biden is, apparently, the first to stumble three times on a single ascent.[11] I’m not seeing this covered anywhere except in the Telegraph, so the paper’s pundit rush to explore political consequences[12] might be overstated.

Agence France-Presse, “Biden stumbles several times while boarding Air Force One,” Times of Israel, March 19, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-stumbles-several-times-while-boarding-air-force-one/

Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/

Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang, “Same old Joe: Rebuffing staff who smoked pot fits Biden’s MO,” Politico, March 19, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/19/same-old-joe-rebuffing-staff-who-smoked-pot-fits-bidens-mo-477283

David Smith, “Biden ‘doing fine’ after stumbling once, twice, thrice on steps of Air Force One,” Guardian, March 19, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/19/joe-biden-fall-stumble-air-force-one


Filibuster

So what we’re really seeing here is that even if—and though the article stops short of saying so, this is the most likely scenario—the filibuster is reverted to an earlier form in which senators actually had to hold the floor, Republicans would still be able to provide the Democrats with an excuse for not getting anything done.[13]

Osita Nwanevu, “Republicans Know They’re Losing the Filibuster Fight,” New Republic, March 19, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/161765/republicans-losing-filibuster-fight-mcconnell


N-word

It’s early yet but, since I put the new sign (figure 1) up, I’ve heard the n-word precisely once in my car and I haven’t heard women called ‘bitches’ or ‘ho’s’ once. You might notice, in figure 1, that I don’t specify what words I’m talking about. But if my hypothesis holds, they know and they know damned well.

Fig. 1. Sign for Uber and Lyft passengers in author’s car, created by author, March 18, 2021.

Cross your fingers.


  1. [1]Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang, “Same old Joe: Rebuffing staff who smoked pot fits Biden’s MO,” Politico, March 19, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/19/same-old-joe-rebuffing-staff-who-smoked-pot-fits-bidens-mo-477283
  2. [2]Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang, “Same old Joe: Rebuffing staff who smoked pot fits Biden’s MO,” Politico, March 19, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/19/same-old-joe-rebuffing-staff-who-smoked-pot-fits-bidens-mo-477283
  3. [3]John Hudak, “Marijuana’s racist history shows the need for comprehensive drug reform,” Brookings, June 23, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/how-we-rise/2020/06/23/marijuanas-racist-history-shows-the-need-for-comprehensive-drug-reform/
  4. [4]David Smith, “Biden ‘doing fine’ after stumbling once, twice, thrice on steps of Air Force One,” Guardian, March 19, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/19/joe-biden-fall-stumble-air-force-one
  5. [5]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  6. [6]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  7. [7]Agence France-Presse, “Biden stumbles several times while boarding Air Force One,” Times of Israel, March 19, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-stumbles-several-times-while-boarding-air-force-one/
  8. [8]Agence France-Presse, “Biden stumbles several times while boarding Air Force One,” Times of Israel, March 19, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-stumbles-several-times-while-boarding-air-force-one/; Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/; David Smith, “Biden ‘doing fine’ after stumbling once, twice, thrice on steps of Air Force One,” Guardian, March 19, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/19/joe-biden-fall-stumble-air-force-one
  9. [9]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  10. [10]Such a link is not altogether absent. The distinction I raise is, on a higher level, that between mind and body, which seems not really to exist: Almerindo E. Ojeda, ed., The Trauma of Psychological Torture (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008); George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh (New York: Basic, 1999). But the suggestion that a diminishment of one capacity, climbing stairs, indicates diminishment of cognitive capacity seems a stretch, possibly an ecological fallacy.
  11. [11]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  12. [12]Josie Ensor and Nick Allen, “Joe Biden trips and falls three times boarding Air Force One,” Telegraph, March 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/19/joe-biden-trips-stumbles-three-times-boarding-air-force-one/
  13. [13]Osita Nwanevu, “Republicans Know They’re Losing the Filibuster Fight,” New Republic, March 19, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/161765/republicans-losing-filibuster-fight-mcconnell

The expensive improvisation (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 17, 2021, at 11:54 pm.

  2. March 18, 2021, 10:37 am:

  3. March 18, 2021, 6:25 pm:

    • So the Verizon technician showed up, did a few trips to and fro, then I heard the whirring sound of an electric screwdriver. I seem to have a new gadget in my closet. And my home Internet is back up.

      I had some catching up to do on stuff I couldn’t do while the home network was down, even with the MiFi, which, by the way, seems to have a very short WiFi coverage area, but this is done now.

  4. March 19, 2021, 12:14 pm:


So it’s a good thing there wasn’t actually any news today. See these two red lights in my closet (figure 2)?

Fig. 2. Verizon FiOS gadget—they call it an ONT—in my closet. Photograph by author, March 17, 2021.

They’re supposed to be green and not just because it’s Saint Patrick’s Day. They aren’t. My home Internet is down.

I grabbed a MiFi unit from my car but, for some reason, my desktop system, a Mac, won’t really connect to it. It says it does, but it doesn’t.

So I’ve got my PixelBook out. It connects just fine. Which is good because me and my fat fingers just ain’t so hot on that phone.

Hopefully, the Verizon guy comes tomorrow. It appears the unit pictured in figure 1 has died.

Basically, Verizon FiOS has been pretty solid for the nearly two years I’ve been here. This is the first significant outage.


My car passed inspection today. This time the surprise bill was only $400. Last year, it was $1,800. But the $400 this time doesn’t count the $1,900 worth of work I had done early in February. Then, of course, there’s the $80 I spent on Uber and Lyft rides while today’s work was being done.

I also got my taxes sent off to be done and served as a participant in three research projects.


Donald Trump didn’t say, ‘Find the fraud.’ But he might as well have.

‘Latinx’

There is a new blog post entitled, “On ‘Latinx.’

Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez, “What Does ‘Latinx’ Mean?” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 16, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/newsletter/race-on-campus/2021-03-16


Ridesharing

Uber and Lyft drivers were eligible for Paycheck Protection Program loans as part of the economic relief program for the pandemic. Many took advantage. Many did not, due to lack of information.[1] I fall into the latter group. It all seemed too weird and I was keeping busy anyway, raising doubt as to whether the program was even appropriate for me, albeit driving my aging (as of this morning, it has 260,785 miles on the odometer) 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid many, many more miles, often uncompensated miles between rides, on abysmal Pittsburgh roads, which has raised my maintenance costs completely out of proportion to the income I’m pulling in. The margins doing this are already tight, less than minimum wage, and this has made them tighter.[2]

I am wondering how many more miles like this I can put on my car. I am also more than a little disturbed by the prospect of buying another car, just to destroy it, like I am this one, doing a job I despise, all because I can’t get a real one.[3]

But meanwhile, Uber and Lyft continued to evade paying into unemployment programs and offered, at best, limited alternatives of their own for drivers compelled to quarantine.[4] It’s an example of corporate welfare for companies that will likely never be profitable[5] while their executives pull in outrageous compensation.

It’s bad enough that, even with a Ph.D., I can’t get a real job.[6] But the discrepancy between how I am treated and how the executives of these money-losing,[7] abusive[8] companies are treated is all the more galling.

Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/


Donald Trump

The Washington Post has corrected a story in which the paper misquoted Donald Trump in a phone call pressuring a Georgia elections investigator:[9]

Correction: Two months after publication of this story, the Georgia secretary of state released an audio recording of President Donald Trump’s December phone call with the state’s top elections investigator. The recording revealed that The Post misquoted Trump’s comments on the call, based on information provided by a source. Trump did not tell the investigator to “find the fraud” or say she would be “a national hero” if she did so. Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find “dishonesty” there. He also told her that she had “the most important job in the country right now.” A story about the recording can be found here. The headline and text of this story have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump.[10]

This article was likely cited in this space.

Amy Gardner, “Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction,” Washington Post, March 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-call-georgia-investigator/2021/01/09/7a55c7fa-51cf-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html


  1. [1]Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Tax time,” Not Housebroken, July 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/14/tax-time/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  4. [4]Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/
  5. [5]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/; Eliot Brown, “Uber Wants to Be the Uber of Everything—But Can It Make a Profit?” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wants-to-be-the-uber-of-everything-11556909866; Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373; Megan Rose Dickey, “Uber lays off 435 people across engineering and product teams,” TechCrunch, September 10, 2019, https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/10/uber-lays-off-435-people-across-engineering-and-product-teams/; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, https://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180; Edward Helmore, “Will Uber ever make money? Day of reckoning looms for ride-sharing firm,” Guardian, August 4, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/04/uber-ride-share-lyft-ipo-earnings; Kirsten Korosec, “Uber in talks to sell ATG self-driving unit to Aurora,” TechCrunch, November 13, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/13/uber-in-talks-to-sell-atg-self-driving-unit-to-aurora/; Timothy B. Lee, “Uber, losing billions, freezes engineering hires,” Ars Technica, August 9, 2019, https://arstechnica.com/cars/2019/08/uber-freezes-engineering-hires-amid-mounting-losses/; Megan McArdle, “Uber can’t keep bleeding money, can it? It apparently thinks it can,” Washington Post, November 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/uber-cant-keep-bleeding-money-can-it-it-apparently-thinks-it-can/2019/11/05/4aa4fec0-000b-11ea-8501-2a7123a38c58_story.html; Tom McKay, “Surprising No One, Uber Continues to Hemorrhage Cash,” Gizmodo, November 4, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/surprising-no-one-uber-continues-to-hemorrhage-cash-1839625062; Christopher Mims, “In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-a-tight-labor-market-gig-workers-get-harder-to-please-11556942404; Patrick Howell O’Neill, “Just In Time For Its Big IPO, Uber Loses $1 Billion,” Gizmodo, April 26, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/just-in-time-for-its-big-ipo-uber-loses-1-billion-1834331980; Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html; Preetika Rana, “Uber Ridership Fails to Recover as Pandemic Drives Another Big Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-ridership-fails-to-recover-as-pandemic-drives-another-big-loss-11596744389; Heather Somerville, “Uber Shedding About 350 Jobs to Shore Up Business,” Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-shedding-about-350-jobs-to-shore-up-business-11571092680; Heather Somerville, “Uber Booked Another Quarterly Loss as Revenue Climbed,” Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-booked-another-quarterly-loss-as-revenue-climbed-11572901549; Heather Somerville, “Uber Sells Self-Driving-Car Unit to Autonomous-Driving Startup,” Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180; Heather Somerville and Mark Maurer, “Uber Cuts More Than 400 Technical Jobs,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-more-than-400-technical-jobs-11568144111; Georgia Wells, “Uber Cites Tight Competition After Posting $1 Billion Loss,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-first-quarter-loss-tops-1-billion-11559246846; Stephen Wilmot, “Uber’s Long Road to Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-long-road-to-profits-11566471068; Julia Carrie Wong, “Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/11/uber-ipo-risk-factors; Michael Wursthorn, “Lyft Shares Rally on Hopes Price Increases Will Drive Profit,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-shares-rally-on-hopes-price-increases-will-drive-profits-11566845457
  6. [6]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  7. [7]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/; Eliot Brown, “Uber Wants to Be the Uber of Everything—But Can It Make a Profit?” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wants-to-be-the-uber-of-everything-11556909866; Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373; Megan Rose Dickey, “Uber lays off 435 people across engineering and product teams,” TechCrunch, September 10, 2019, https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/10/uber-lays-off-435-people-across-engineering-and-product-teams/; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, https://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180; Edward Helmore, “Will Uber ever make money? Day of reckoning looms for ride-sharing firm,” Guardian, August 4, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/04/uber-ride-share-lyft-ipo-earnings; Kirsten Korosec, “Uber in talks to sell ATG self-driving unit to Aurora,” TechCrunch, November 13, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/13/uber-in-talks-to-sell-atg-self-driving-unit-to-aurora/; Timothy B. Lee, “Uber, losing billions, freezes engineering hires,” Ars Technica, August 9, 2019, https://arstechnica.com/cars/2019/08/uber-freezes-engineering-hires-amid-mounting-losses/; Megan McArdle, “Uber can’t keep bleeding money, can it? It apparently thinks it can,” Washington Post, November 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/uber-cant-keep-bleeding-money-can-it-it-apparently-thinks-it-can/2019/11/05/4aa4fec0-000b-11ea-8501-2a7123a38c58_story.html; Tom McKay, “Surprising No One, Uber Continues to Hemorrhage Cash,” Gizmodo, November 4, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/surprising-no-one-uber-continues-to-hemorrhage-cash-1839625062; Christopher Mims, “In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-a-tight-labor-market-gig-workers-get-harder-to-please-11556942404; Patrick Howell O’Neill, “Just In Time For Its Big IPO, Uber Loses $1 Billion,” Gizmodo, April 26, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/just-in-time-for-its-big-ipo-uber-loses-1-billion-1834331980; Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html; Preetika Rana, “Uber Ridership Fails to Recover as Pandemic Drives Another Big Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-ridership-fails-to-recover-as-pandemic-drives-another-big-loss-11596744389; Heather Somerville, “Uber Shedding About 350 Jobs to Shore Up Business,” Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-shedding-about-350-jobs-to-shore-up-business-11571092680; Heather Somerville, “Uber Booked Another Quarterly Loss as Revenue Climbed,” Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-booked-another-quarterly-loss-as-revenue-climbed-11572901549; Heather Somerville, “Uber Sells Self-Driving-Car Unit to Autonomous-Driving Startup,” Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180; Heather Somerville and Mark Maurer, “Uber Cuts More Than 400 Technical Jobs,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-more-than-400-technical-jobs-11568144111; Georgia Wells, “Uber Cites Tight Competition After Posting $1 Billion Loss,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-first-quarter-loss-tops-1-billion-11559246846; Stephen Wilmot, “Uber’s Long Road to Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-long-road-to-profits-11566471068; Julia Carrie Wong, “Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/11/uber-ipo-risk-factors; Michael Wursthorn, “Lyft Shares Rally on Hopes Price Increases Will Drive Profit,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-shares-rally-on-hopes-price-increases-will-drive-profits-11566845457
  8. [8]Farhad Manjoo, “The Uber I.P.O. Is a Moral Stain on Silicon Valley,” New York Times, May 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/opinion/uber-ipo.html; Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Alexa Noel, “Revised MIT Study Says Uber, Lyft Drivers Make About $8 or $10 per Hour,” Points Guy, March 8, 2018, https://thepointsguy.com/2018/03/revised-mit-study-says-uber-lyft-drivers-make-about-8-or-10-per-hour/; Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/
  9. [9]Amy Gardner, “Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction,” Washington Post, March 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-call-georgia-investigator/2021/01/09/7a55c7fa-51cf-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  10. [10]Amy Gardner, “Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction,” Washington Post, March 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-call-georgia-investigator/2021/01/09/7a55c7fa-51cf-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html

It’s the March after the November, but for Trumpsters, the campaign continues


Fig. 1. Photograph by author, March 14, 2021.

The reddish hue on this tree is a sign it is budding, an early sign of spring, and also that at least one more freeze is surely on the way.


Trumpsters

I’ve mostly been forgetting to mention that a lot of Donald Trump campaign signs and flags are reappearing now around Pittsburgh after having disappeared, presumably in well-deserved shame, following the U.S. Capitol coup attempt.[1] I’ve also seen banners proclaiming that “[Joe] Biden is not my president.” I’m not quite sure what to make of this: Clearly these folks continue to support Trump. It seems unlikely that even they entertain any hope now of overturning the November election result. But I think we can surmise that they don’t accept the result.

And given the violence that surrounded that coup attempt, and a potential for violence that presumably remains, this can’t be a good thing.


Twitter

Twitter suspended users mentioning a city in Tennessee named Memphis. Yes, really. It was a “bug,” they say.[2] No, Twitter, no. It is far more than a bug. It’s what you get for using artificial idiocy. It’s the very sort of thing I said would happen.[3]

Alyse Stanley, “Twitter Banned Me for Saying the ‘M’ Word: Memphis,” Gizmodo, March 15, 2021, https://gizmodo.com/twitter-banned-me-for-saying-the-m-word-memphis-1846474378


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/; David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/; David Benfell, “The State of the Disunion, 2021,” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/10/the-state-of-the-disunion-2021/; David Benfell, “The second farce,” Not Housebroken, February 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/02/14/the-second-farce/
  2. [2]Alyse Stanley, “Twitter Banned Me for Saying the ‘M’ Word: Memphis,” Gizmodo, March 15, 2021, https://gizmodo.com/twitter-banned-me-for-saying-the-m-word-memphis-1846474378
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Our new Satan: artificial idiocy and big data mining,” Not Housebroken, February 23, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/13/our-new-satan-artificial-idiocy-and-big-data-mining/