Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Homeless - Homeless Alcoholics Need A Wet House

homeless, wet house, doc gurley's urban health beat, reporting on healthHomeless alcoholics need a wet house.

When you sleep with your bottle, you've passed a milestone in your addiction. You've got to have it against your chest, all night, easy to reach. Your relationship to it is like other people's relationships with their smart phones; it's crucial to your existence, always clutched in your hand. You feel unsettled when you can't see it, until it's easier to just sleep with it.
But there are other, worse stages to come. As I ask my clinic patients about them, I hear a ding in my mind, like an elevator does each time a door opens, each time a patient answers yes.
Do you wake with the shakes? That means that you're so addicted that you begin to withdraw every night as you sleep. Ding.
Do you wake up in the night to take a drink? Your brain must be bathed in alcohol, awash in the acrid sea of it, at all times. You can no longer make it to morning. Ding.
Do you seize if you stop drinking? Deprived of alcohol, your tender brain begins to crackle and sizzle, and then ignites like a gas-explosion - ka-whoom - as a depth charge of neurons fires. Ding.
Can you remember how this happened? It looks like something hit you pretty hard, sir, the way your cheekbone is caved in here under all this blood. Do you remember? You never remember what happens when you're drinking. Ding. Ding. Ding.
At what point does society decide that someone has become a danger to himself because of his addiction? And what can be done about it?
The large numbers of public inebriates on our sidewalks represent a financial, ethical, and moral crisis in cities across America. These suffering humans also represent a public health crisis. Mortality rates are sky high, with life expectancies equal to, or worse than, those of people living in the most devastated, violence-riddled pockets of our globe.
The issue of people drinking themselves to death on a sidewalk is one that unites and divides us in unpredictable ways, crossing "normal" divisions of politics, compassion, and fiscal conservatism. There are those who want a person slowly dying in plain sight to at least have a roof over his head. There are the more law-and-order, throw-the-bums-out types, who just want public inebriates off the streets. And no one can look at the eye-popping cost of this public, drawn-out suffering and death without thinking that, at $8 million dollars a year in health care costs for 100 people, there has to be a better - and cheaper - way.
Disclaimer: Identifiable patients mentioned in this post were not served by R. Jan Gurley in her capacity as a physician at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, nor were they encountered through her position there. The views and opinions expressed by R. Jan Gurley are her own and do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the City and County of San Francisco; nor does mention of the San Francisco Department of Public Health imply its endorsement.
Photo credit: George Erws via Flickr

PBS Website Hackers LulzSec Praise Zennie62, Media Misses Message

LulzSec is gaining fame for hacking into the website's of Fox, Sony, PBS, and it seems AT&T, by reading their Twitter tweets. Of course, the actions of the group of what Parmy Olson at Forbes.com says are four people (I think more) are lost on the mainstream media.

While the LutzSec folks say they're out to just have fun, their real intent in much greater, and necessary.

It was that observation I arrived at after reading a vast number of Twitter tweets, articles, and blog posts about LulzSec, then writing my own take that appears on Zennie62.com and on SFGate.com. After seeing it on Twitter (because I shared it with them), the group issued this tweet:

LulzSec The Lulz Boat
A fine article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail?entry_id=89990 @Zennie62
13 hours ago


Now at this point you might get the idea I'm egging LulzSec on. No, I'm not. They're going to do what they do regardless of my take. But, as a person who has intense disagreement with the way much of the media operates online, and an overall lack of understanding or interest in the Internet on their part, I see this as a much-needed cleansing.

What should come from these efforts are better and more secure website systems, and a lesser degree of corporate arrogance when matters of Internet operations are considered. What should also happen is the media should devote more time and effort to understanding and explaining what groups like LutzSec do.

Any one who thinks it's just for fun only sees what LutzSec wants them to see. The truth is, they do it because the website systems of many large companies allow them to do so. That goes for many news organizations.

If you think the PBS website hack was just playing around, don't think so. Every news website should look at what LulzSec has done and make sure their systems are secure so it doesn't happen to them. To think the unthinkable, imagine if the group had simultaneously hacked into three major news websites and posted the same Tupac story? Given the connections to Google News and other news aggregators, the damage to the media system would have been tremendous.

Yet, for now, this is possible.

It's possible, in part, because Google itself has subordinated blogs in favor of news websites, thus opening the public to such an effective attack. It's possible because a number of news websites are arguably not as secure as they could be.

This is a real problem. And look at it another way, LulzSec's not attacking websites where data exists that can really harm innocent people if it's compromised. These folks have a plan, and it's not about hurting society.

I'm not supporting what LulzSec is doing, I'm only explaining it's true implications to a public and a mainstream media that seems clueless. This idea of the hackers just having "fun" is only pablum, and the media's eating it up.

Stay tuned.

Subway Fights, NYC Naked Man Rants - How To Avoid Both

If you live in an urban area with a subway train system, chances are you've seen it, a subway fight. And maybe you've seen a naked man go on a rant on the subway system, as was true for a number of passengers on the #6 train in NYC in early May of this year. Well, if you've wondered what to do to avoid such calamities in the future, this video blog is for you.

Let's use three recent, real World examples - two from New York City.

In the first one, a young girl, black, is eating pasta out of a container, much to the displeasure of an adult white woman sitting across from her. Race is noted here, because the adult white woman uses racist terms and insults to verbally assault the obviously young girl. That alone was horrible, and some measure of understanding must be offered to the girl, who calls the woman by her overweight status.

But the best way for both to avoid these situations is, for the adult woman, to stop trying to control others. If she didn't like it, she could have moved - no one was stopping her.

The girl's not supposed to eat on the train, but let's face it, many people do. And I've seen some patrons and the police on San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit System make an issue of it if a person of color was doing the consuming of even a cup of coffee; it's OK if the person happens to be white.

But today, BART allows the sale of Starbucks Coffee in two stations: Berkeley and Powell Street. So, the BART Police should not even enforce such a "no eating" law and the BART Board should take it off their books, because it's not fair to maintain it, and sell food at the same time.

But I digress.

In the second example, an older Latina woman is singing on the Hollywood Subway. A man standing next to her doesn't like it. But rather than walk away, tries to control what she's doing. Another man takes offense to the, as I call him, "Angry Man's" behavior, and steps between them. The Angry Man sucker punches the other man and a fight breaks out.

The Angry Man had a problem and I personally hope he was charged with assault. He should have just walked away. The woman has a free speech right to sing on a public train, and at least one of the passengers enjoyed it.

Racism Is A Mental Illness

In the final example, a man in the video, obviously nuts, strips naked while yelling racial insults. What to do? Well, first get a camera or camcorder! Seriously. YouTube, for one video distribution company, pays well for viral videos. Second, get away from the guy and call the police, ASAP. Third, unless you like danger and think you can take him down without putting your hand in the wrong place, leave him alone.

The guy in the video had to be on something to act like that. Plus, he disobeyed a police officer, and then in one of the other videos it was said he tried to grab the cop's gun.

So this guy's looking at a bit longer than the standard penalty for disorderly conduct.

BART Is Safer - But Not By Much

Thankfully the BART system doesn't have as many happenings like these, even though they do occur. Take the guy blowing his horn in the passenger's face after the Giants World Series Game last year:

That passenger did the right thing: he just went with it, and the drunk guy walked on.

One reason for the fewer fights than in Eastern cities, I think, is simply because the trains are much nicer than their New York counterparts.

But the quiet, clean, nice BART of the 20th Century, is giving way to a dirtier, louder version in the 21st Century.

If this is a budget issue, and it must be, then given the state's overall revenue problem, we're in for trouble. One way BART should mitigate that is to have a sponsored train. Here, revenue is generated by allowing a train to have logos of a sponsor.

Something has to be done. Else, BART's degeneration into the next venue for urban fight clubs will continue.

Stay tuned.

YouTube's Statement On Harrassment And Cyberbullying

As this blogger's effort to have YouTube install a channel filter to block, for me, the unwanted N-word continues, we have to look at what Google and YouTube say about this problem, which is called "Harassment And Cyberbullying.

But before we press on, here's my video message:

Now. Why examine what YouTube and Google say about the problem?

Because some commenters on my video don't get the problem. Here's one comment that illustrates my point:

What I don't understand is how this word is so hurtful. It's just a word, and I guarantee you that 95% of the people that use it aren't racist at all, they're just trying to make you angry, and you're letting them.

I don't think that they should add a word filter. What are they going to do, remove all the videos such as rap and movie clips that have the word too? It's not going to happen and your complaining about it is just going to make more people do it because they know it ticks you off.

In other words, according YouTuber CelebO1996 (well, YouTube account holder, since he or she doesn't post videos) I should just take it, right? Continue to be harassed, right?

This is what YouTube and Google explain in their policy statements, starting with a definition of harassment:

Harassment is when someone persistently troubles or attacks another. Online, this is called cyberbullying and is commonly seen in text comments, messages and videos. People who harass others are usually doing this to get attention or reactions from others online or in real life. Harassment can be mildly annoying or can pose very serious safety issues. It's important to know the differences between the two to know when you should just ignore the user or report to a trusted adult or authorities.

So people who use the N-word fall into this category, obviously. Well, er, it doesn't seem to be obvious to some people.

As to how to stop it, this is the Google / YouTube statement:

Not everyone online is nice. Comments can get pretty rough sometimes. One thing nearly all haters have in common is that they are trying to get a reaction out of you. If a user's comments are bothering you, it's probably not a good idea to reply back. Instead, try deleting the comments and blocking the user so they can't view your other videos or leave more comments. You can also turn comments off for any video or manage comments by requiring pre-approval before they get posted.

Now for a person who has 1,468 videos, and counting, and thousands of comments, deleting and blocking the N-word has become a job onto itself. As I've said, and will continue to say, I've had it.

YouTube has something called the Help & Safety Tool, but it's designed to report a single YouTube account holder. If I used that, YouTube would get about 30 to 50 reports from me per month. Does YouTube want that? 

Why not just save everyone the trouble and add a word filter?

I'm not saying I don't believe in free speech, but if this wasn't a problem, Google and YouTube would not bother to install pages and write procedures for how to deal with Harrassment And Cyberbullying.

So, since the organizations have gone that far, why not go the extra mile and add a word filter?

It's not too much to ask for.

Monday, May 30, 2011

On Memorial Day, Remembering My Fathers

At first I wasn't going to do this, because it's too hard. But I just knew I could not let the Memorial Day go by without honoring my father, Zenophon Abraham, Sr., and my stepfather Chester Yerger, Jr. Both served in World War II, and both received honorable discharges from it.

In my father's case he's now buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and, as I show in my 2009 video, ...

I have his burial flag that was given to me after his ceremony, which included a 21-gun salute. Zennie Sr. passed away without a lot of money, and I was prepared to take on the debts he left behind, but it never came to that. We had a relationship that was on-and-off-and-on.

I think, as I grew and became 'my own man' as they say, he, at first, didn't know how to deal with that. He was used to me always agreeing with him; then I hit 18 years old, and that pretty much stopped. I remember the first time I took issue with his point-of-view, explaining to him that, even though I was a Dallas Cowboys fan, I believed that the then-Los Angeles Rams were going to beat them in a NFL First Round Divisional 1981 Playoff Game.

Well, that's what happened.

We didn't talk much after that.

Dad remarried during the 80s, then in 1993, first informed me of my three young half-sisters. I didn't actually meet them until the year my father passed away: 2005. The oldest and I communicate often, but not quite as much as I'd prefer.

My father and I reconnected in 1999. It was my first NFL Owners Meeting, the Fall Meeting that was then commonly held at the Hyattt Regency O'Hare. It was my first such meeting during the effort to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland, and I was jazzed to say the least. Attending such an event, let alone being asked to make a presentation, is a rare happening for anyone. 

I even remember talking with this guy who would literally hang out in the lobby by himself, waiting to talk to the NFL Owners as they came out of whatever meeting was being held.  He was an NFL junkie in a black shirt - a guy who looked like a kid at a candy store.   Now, he's on Fox Sports and his name's Jay Glazer. 

Since I knew that Dad lived 15 minutes away from the Hyatt, I invited him to have lunch with me. It was a moment I will never forget, because it was the day after the day that Chicago Bears Running Back Walter Payton passed away: November 1, 1999. My father said "I want to talk with you as a father talks to his son." And he did.

I don't care what anyone says, or how this is taken, you can't replicate the impact a father has on the growth of a child - son or daughter. You just can't. He said things to me that I will never forget or recount here.

Later, after my successful Super Bowl Policy Committee Meeting, where I was the only person representing Oakland (a long story) to talk before a group that consisted of then-NFL exec Neil Austrian, then-NFL SVP and "Mr. Super Bowl" Jim Steeg, Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay, the late NY Giants Co-Owner Bob Tisch, and the late Kansas City Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt (and where Irsay said my presentation was "outstanding" and you can ask him today), I called my father.

I just wanted to meet Dad for a drink; he wanted to go out and into Downtown Chicago to a club! Man, I just couldn't see doing that with my old man. Boy, was I a square! Well, not really. I just think there are some activities that a young man should not do with his father, and that's one of them!

My father, like my stepfather Chester Harding Yerger, Jr., was full of life. In Chester's case, he was married to my Mom for 18 years before passing away the same year as my father - 2005.

Chester loved to talk with everyone, especially about the War, and about his legendary Arkansas family. The Yergers were one of the largest tax payers in the State of Arkansas, and have a history remembered today in the form of Yerger Middle School in Hope, Arkansas. He was proud of the legacy of a great African American family that was paced by Henry Clay Yerger, Chester's grandfather.

Mr. Yerger started the Henry Clay Yerger School System in Hope, in 1886, with one building and one teacher - him. It grew steadily and became the first training school for Blacks west of the Mississippi River, and then in 1931 called Yerger High School.

After re-reading that, it's not hard to brag, eh?

I lost both my father and Chester in 2005 and in October and on St. Patrick's Day, respectively. That same year, in January, my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Thanks to early detection, an early-stage drug called Femara, a great diet, and friends, and me, Mom beat it and was declared Cancer-free on April 17, 2005.

She's still giving me lectures today; I love every one of them.

Happy Memorial Day.

PBS, Sony, Fox Websites Hacked By LulzSec's Lulz Boat, AT&T Next?

A new group of web pirates is making itself known, as it sails the high seas of The Internet in search of what it describes on Twitter as #fun #fun #fun.

The Lulz Boat, or what the group really calls itself: LulzSec, has hacked into the websites of PBS, Sony, and Fox, in reverse order over the last two months - and AT&T appears to be next on their list.

The Sony Hacks

The series of Sony hacks (not just one), and reported to be the largest in Internet history, caused the Japanese icon to shut down its PlayStation servers for a month. And LulzSec left this tweet:

LOL @Sony, nice Japanese website dumbasses: http://pastebin.com/NyEFLbyX

Which leads to this message containing the Sony website pages that contains two links to Sony's database structure:

@LulzSec was here you sexy bastards!

This isn't a 1337 h4x0r, we just want to embarrass Sony some more. Can this be hack number 8? 7 and a half?!

Stupid Sony, so very stupid:

SQLi #1: http://www.sonymusic.co.jp/bv/cro-magnons/track.php?item=7419
SQLi #2: http://www.sonymusic.co.jp/bv/kadomatsu/item.php?id=30&item=4490

(two other databases hosted on this boxxy box, go for them if you want)

And LulzSec does it all with the interesting tagline "Laughing at your security since 2011!"

And that seems to be the point of their hacks: taking advantage of apparent and simple gaps in system design. The LulzSec refers to the "seven processes" in their Twitter account, as if they were the "seven seas" that pirates would sail on.

But by "seven processes," and linked to reference to their actions as being pirate boat attacks, then the "seven processes" seems to be the approaches they use to enter a website and database.

The SQL Injection Method

Generally, what LulzSec seems to be doing is using something called The SQL Injection Method.  What this is starts with the use of the "Structured Query Language," or SQL programming approach, like C, or HTML, or any other language, but that is used to create managing data in a website's database. The technique of "convince the application to run SQL code that was not intended," is described in detail at Steve Friedl's website at unixwiz.net, where he provides a way to "mitigate" against such approaches as the ones used by The LulzSec. You can see that with a click and scroll here: FIX.

Tupac and LulzSec Fame

The LulzSec group gained recent fame by hacking into the PBS website and posting a report that legendary rapper Tupac Shakur is "alive and well" in New Zealand, along with Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious BIG.

Which is interesting, because history tells us of a feud between them that resulted in their deaths. But I digress.

Why PBS?

Reportedly, The LulzSec hacked into the PBS website because of the public television giant's Frontline programs on Wikileaks and Private Bradley Manning. But personally, I don't think that's the reason: LulzSec just did it because PBS was vulnerable. So, they hacked in, made up a reason for the action after it was successful, then turned their attention to Tupac and Biggie.

Think about it.  Why would a group announce it was going to hack into a website and state its motives before the action unless they had reason to believe they were going to be successful?

Bragging On Twitter

The programmers are particularly active on Twitter, and not shy about their future objectives, or their present conquests. Here's sample from their Twitter page https://twitter.comLulzSec:

LulzSec The Lulz Boat
Hey @PBS admins, you still trying to regain control? The Lulz Boat sails through your horrendously-outdated kernels! #Sownage next, folks.
5 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

LulzSec The Lulz Boat
Sony happens when Sony happens - we're celebrating our victory right now. The fun will never stop!
6 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

LulzSec The Lulz Boat
We dominate their entire stupid website. Selling custom blog.pbs.org domains, php/user included, lulzsec@hushmail.com - 2 BitCoins each!
6 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

LulzSec The Lulz Boat
Oh yes, that's right... #Sownage tomorrow. We hope. We decided to obliterate @PBS instead out of distraction. *heads off to the Lulz Cabin*
9 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

LulzSec The Lulz Boat
@ShiverMeTimbres PBS can't recover much, all their base are belong to us. They only broke the file that lets you read articles.
11 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

LulzSec The Lulz Boat
We're working on another Sony operation. We've condensed all our excited tweets into this one: this is the beginning of the end for Sony.
26 May Favorite Retweet Reply

As of this writing, it looks like PBS has regained control of the articles section of website: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/a and Newshour reports on Twitter:

FYI: None of our visitors' personal information or emails were compromised during last night's incident ^TG

But LulzSec says that's the only part that PBS controls, so while all may seem OK, it's not. The PBS website is still largely under LulzSec's control, according to LulzSec.

(An observation: what's good about Twitter, is that PBS Newshour was able to use it not just to report the hack, but to explain the false Tupac news.)

Chester Wisniewski's Annoying Blog Post.

A network security specialist named Chester Wisniewski posted a rather annoying blog entry at his Naked Security blog site. This set of paragraphs Mr. Wisniewski wrote below was particularly troublesome to this blogger:

While PBS is the victim here, the passwords disclosed for most affiliates are embarrassingly predictable.

There was absolutely no skill involved in this attack, as it used freely available tools to exploit the databases. The attackers represent nothing more than what many historically thought of as hackers: people creating chaos with no other purpose than gaining fame, irrespective of the damage caused.

The attack is nearly identical to the recent attack against SonyMusic.co.jp. LulzSec used the same tool to attack the Sony website, although far less sensitive information was disclosed in the Sony attack.

Several other databases were disclosed, some including plain text passwords, others using hashes. It is unfortunate that PBS was vulnerable to this kind of attack and even worse that so many passwords were stored in clear text. Revealing this information is criminal and there are certainly more respectable ways of disclosing flaws than exposing so many users' passwords.

To write that there was "absolutely no skill involved in this attack" is nothing more than one programmer dissing another, and helping no one. The fact is, LulzSec did it, and is ways that aren't familiar to the general public. That makes them what? A specialist with a skill - a dangerous and effective one that impacts millions of people.

If what LulzSec did called for "no skill" then Chester Wisniewski should have posted the mathods to fix the gaps in their website security. He did not do that. If the problem is an SQL injection flaw, which is how LulzSec entered both the PBS and Sony website systems, then why not show how to spot the problem and fix it - as I did here, noting Steve Friedl's website

Facebook, Twitter, Safe

That LulzSec was able to easily hack into the websites of large, traditional brands, means that new media companies with far more secure website systems are safe, specifically Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, to name some of them.

The point of all this really should be to work with Internet entrepreneurs who build large, database-driven website companies, and not just any programmer on the block, in developing website protection systems that are extremely secure.  As LulzSec claims, "no one is safe" and that may be,  but you can make your website more safe than the next website.

Stay tuned. 

Golden State Warriors To Get Bigger Under Jerry West?

In a Sunday evening interview with Lawrence Scott of KNTV NBC Bay Area Channel 11, San Francisco, Golden State (Oakland) Warriors new "executive board member," NBA Legend Jerry West, said the one set of words this blogger has wanted to hear for years: the Warriors "need to get bigger."

The Golden State (Oakland) Warriors of owner Chris Cohan and Team President Robert Rowell were known as a small, fast team without the "towers" necessary to compete in tough games down the stretch. And in much of their history since the late 80s, the Warriors were never known for that 'big guy in the middle.'

The last person with the ability required to wear that tag was "The Chief," Center Robert Parish, who left in what was described as a trade that cemented Celtics President, the legendary Red Auerbach's "reputation for thievery," at the expense of The Warriors.

Auerbach dealt the first and 13th picks in the 1980 NBA Draft to The Oakland Warriors and the third pick in the 1980 Draft and Mr. Parish. The Warriors used that pick to get Purdue's Joe Barry Carroll at center.

Joe Barry Carroll never lived up to the lofty expectations set for him, and that was magnified by the success of Parish, paired with then-rookie Kevin McHale with a Celtics team that already had Larry Bird, and went on the be the NBA Champions that year.

That same year, Parish has the same points per game average as Joe Barry Carroll, but Parish had 777 rebounds that year, compared to 437 for Carroll. It wasn't just that Parish was taller, he was only that by an inch. But the observation was that Carroll wasn't 'into' the game, and so didn't play to his seven-foot height.

But I digress.

Warriors new owner Joe Lacob said that West would be "broadly involved in the organization" when he was interviewed by Tim Roye, the voice of the Warriors, last week. That will include marketing, sponsorship, and even arena issues.

And when Roye talked with West, Jerry said that he wasn't there to step on anyone's toes, but he reiterated Labob's statement that West is there to be an adviser.

West, from his conversation with NBC Bay Area and the Warriors interviews, will have a key role in selecting the next coach for the Warriors, and dictating the team's overall characteristics. But from Roye's interview, it's obvious that West will play a large roll in the very shape of the Warriors for years to come.


Stay tuned.

Side note: If KNTV NBC Bay Area had a real social media strategy, it could have got a lot more mileage out of this Jerry West interview. They put tweets out about the West interview, but without a link to any other type of content. So, when the TV segment is gone, that's it.

KNTV suffers from the same "inny" view of the use of social media that seems to have infected local television stations, causing them to lose out on thousands of dollars in ad revenues.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

99ers, HR 589 & the Unemployment Wars: U-Cubed Picks Bumper Sticker Winner!

As usual, Congress adjourns yet again and Americans’ suffering continues unabated by Washington, DC. However there is news to report: 99ers, HR 589 & the Unemployment Wars - PLUS, U-Cubed Picks their Bumper Sticker Slogan Winner!

The 99ers (unemployment exhaustees of any weekly duration) have really taken the brunt of both the recession and the two faced politics of Obama and Congress at large. Clearly actions speak louder than words and Congressional action to help hurting 99ers stopped in October/November of 2009. Words are useless and do not pay the rent or put food in the mouths of hungry Americans - put in that position by greedy, heartless politicians in the first lace.

Case in point: The winning slogan for the U-Cubed “Tell it Like it is” Bumper Sticker Campaign. Recently it was announced that the winning slogan: "BANKS GOT BAILED. WE GOT NAILED." was submitted by JD Galvin and will be printed as bumper stickers and distributed to all U-Cubed members for free! Stay tuned for details and Congratulations to JD!

Recently, on the Paladinette UnemployedZealot Facebook page, I noted that Trolls do not bother me one bit. They are a fact of life in the blogosphere and are as insignificant and bothersome to me as gnats near a kitty litter box. (Fair analogy I’d say) But to those who find my occasional harshly worded or blatant statements in poor taste, I invited to “de-friend” me on Facebook. My ‘In your Face’ style and blunt, raw humor is not for everyone - BUT I am a 99er and this is WAR! There is no room in this fight for cowards or faint hearted, wishy-washy people pleaser types who are afraid to upset the apple cart. This is our survival and when you are hungry, homeless (or soon will be) and without help - you will eventually stand up or die off - it is really that simple. I apologize if my words offend at times, but it is clear to me that Washington is not listening to the pleasantries previously exchanged between them and the unemployed for the past few years. It is what they count on to keep the unemployed masses under control - like dangling HR 589 in front of us so we are too afraid to rock the boat until it passes.

NEWS FLASH: HR 589 will NEVER PASS unless or until you abandon your fear, refuse to be controlled or silenced and stand up publicly and vocally send Washington the clear message that YOU DEMAND better NOW!

America has gone to war for all the wrong reasons for decades and I for one feel that the very survival of Americans is worth fighting for - which is why I never give up.

Look and see what your government is lying to you about: New jobless claims came in at 424,000 last week. This fact was barely reported in the mainstream media. When they have 240,000 new jobs created over a month to report, it is in your face all day long. This is why even the most gullible among us now sees the propaganda machine for exactly what it is. All anyone need do is the math. @ 424,000 jobs lost weekly - that is an annual job loss rate of over 22 MILLION or about 1.8 million per month. Factor in the less than stellar 240,000 jobs gained last month (April) and you have a jobs deficit of 1.6 million per month - But the economy is getting better right? Where? People are hurting worse than ever in this country, but Obama and the rest of the Washington cronies are only fixated upon helping those hurting overseas and the 2012 election already!

So WHY isn’t every ambulatory unemployed American taking to the streets of their towns in angry protest? Do you actually believe that fairy tale this administration is shoveling about the economy steadily improving - if so YOU’LL BELIEVE ANYTHING and I’d like to sell you some triangle swamp land in Florida that should triple in value in by the end of the summer.....I mean if you are that stupid then you deserve to be fooled.
I do not have a master’s degree or even a college degree at all - still I consider myself a fairly intelligent woman - and it occurs to me that the deficit Washington needs to focus upon is the huge jobs deficit I just mentioned, as if it were resolved - that would fix the other deficit they are always whining about! But they do not really want to fix that one either as they are profiting GREATLY from our suffering.

A JPMorgan research report concludes that the current corporate profit recovery is more dependent on falling unit-labor costs than during any previous expansion. Which is why the rich LOVE high unemployment. People get desperate and will work for much less to feed their families.

The American model of high productivity and low pay has friends in high places. Former Obama adviser and General Motors (GM) car czar Steven Rattner argues that America's unemployment crisis is a sign of strength: Just listen to what this idiot said:

“Perversely, the nagging high jobless rate reflects two of the most promising attributes of the American economy: its flexibility and its productivity. Eliminating jobs - with all the wrenching human costs - raises productivity and, thereby, competitiveness.

That kind of efficiency is perhaps our most precious economic asset. However tempting it may be, we need to resist tinkering with the labor market. Policy proposals aimed too directly at raising employment may well collaterally end up dragging on productivity.”


The unemployment crisis has been a godsend for America's superrich, who own the vast majority of financial assets - stocks, bonds, currency and commodities. Out-of-work Americans deserve more than unemployment checks - they deserve dividends. The rich would never have recovered without them.

We all really just want jobs so we can support ourselves. We only need this HR 589 14 weeks of retro UI for 99ers (all exhaustees) to help us survive and once again afford to continue the necessities required for an effective job search: gas, resume printing, a hair cut, laundry soap, food and the internet.

MOST of all WE NEED CONGRESS and OBAMA to get off their under worked backsides and create an immediate, effective massive JOBS program to help America’s hurting jobless millions NOW!
Not bloody likely when you consider the caliber of jerks running the show in Congress. This just about says it all:

HUFFPO HILL - Congressional Republicans argued all last year that unemployment benefits didn't deserve the "emergency" designation that would exempt them from "pay as you go" rules against deficit spending. An ongoing jobs crisis, they said, was not the same as an act-of-god emergency, like a tornado or a flood.

Turns out, tornadoes and floods aren't like tornadoes and floods, either.

GOP leaders are signaling they will push to come up with offsets to pay for any such emergency package, which could cost billions of dollars and has been proposed in response to a week of tornadoes and floods that have decimated areas of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. The federal government typically foots the bill when it comes to responding to natural disasters, but Republicans in charge of the House say they plan to keep their message of fiscal discipline in line with their actions.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: "We can find things we don't need to spend on to pay for it."

You simply cannot reason with idiots! Sort of makes you wish a giant tornado would find it’s way to Congress - doesn’t it? If Republicans in charge of the House want to keep their message of fiscal discipline in line with their actions, it would behoove them to STOP collecting $millions in Vanity Farm Subsidies given to members of Congress every year, most getting $3 million or more for as little as a 2 acre patch of land that is nothing more than a glorified garden. Then again, Congress controls the purse strings and so the politicians will continue to raid the tax payer coffers for their own personal gain until Main Street America says ENOUGH and finally STOPS THEM!


#99ers: Mail EXLAX 2 Congress. GET THEM MOVING on HR 589!

#99ers: EX-LAX ATTACK - Print on card stock and mail to Washington http://t.co/RQPrEpK

#99ers: Post cards you can print and send to congress for the Ex-LAX attack: http://t.co/8Ra7oy8

[Please donate so I can keep on fighting for the 99ers! Thank You!]

YouTube, Stop Use Of The N-Word - An Update

My video and blog request for YouTube to stop the use of the N-word has started a conversation that's growing. While this blogger is not interested in debate - the N-word is bed and is not wanted on my channel - there is thoughtful conversation about this issue, both on YouTube and around the Internet.

To be clear the N-word (or nigger) is defined in this way according to Dictionary.com:

term nigger is now probably the most offensive word in English. Its degree of offensiveness has increased markedly in recent years, although it has been used in a derogatory manner since at least the Revolutionary War. Definitions 1a, 1b, and 2 represent meanings that are deeply disparaging and are used when the speaker deliberately wishes to cause great offense. Definition 1a, however, is sometimes used among African-Americans in a neutral or familiar way. Definition 3 is not normally considered disparaging—as in “The Irish are the niggers of Europe” from Roddy Doyle's The Commitments —but the other uses are considered contemptuous and hostile.

The problem for some is that because the word "is sometimes used among African-Americans in a neutral or familiar way," they think that makes the term OK to use. It does not make it OK at all.

In my entire life, I've never had one friend or relative, use the term toward me. And on the rare occasion that it happens, I quickly speak up and express my displeasure.

Indeed, the real problem is that those who aren't black and hear blacks use the term should speak up and say it's not correct to use. That would go a long way toward placing the word in the trash bin of history, where it belongs.

But I digress.

All I'm asking for is for YouTube to install a filter to I can block out the N-word from my channel. Someone observed that the video seemed to ask for a site-wide ban, but I'm not interested in controlling what other YouTubers present. I just want to be able to have some control over what's presented on my channel.

YouTube Comments Are Thoughful

This video has produced some of the most thoughtful comments I've ever read and far against my expectations. I thought I would be bombarded with trolls using the term, but, while there have been some who thought they would play around and use it, or some derivation, they have been in the minority.

This comment, by DiaryIsLocked on YouTube is my favorite thus far:

I agree. Though I believe I need to inform people of this fact. Race is a made up term to categorize people. Mainly developed in patriarchal western societies, which sadly is where a lot of racist slanders thrive. Race is not a biological term nor is it a scientific term. Also using the "freedom of speech" debate is useless in this. Yes, you do have the right to voice your opinions WITHOUT infringing on another person's rights or freedoms. That's the catch twenty-two right there.

YouTube Is Not A Public Forum

And that comment brings up this point: YouTube is not a public forum, it's a private channel. In a true public forum, you can go out in the town square and say what you want. But even then, free speech is limited by defamation laws against hate speech. And that's the point here.

All too often the N-word has been use to defame, in this case, me. What YouTube currently has is a system where I have to moderate every comment, thus gumming up my email box with requests. I have 1,468 videos and just around a hundred thousand comments. I'm not interested in taking a whole comment down, if I can encourage the person not to use hate speech, and be more thoughtful, rather than hateful, in the selection of words to express their ideas.

I really don't think that's too much to ask.

Pressing The YouTube Issue

This is a matter I will continue to seek new ways to press YouTube on. I should be able to filter out the N-word. Indeed, if someone wants to take out the F-word, or the R-word, they should be able to do that too.

Stay tuned.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New 99er "Ex-Lax Attack" Campaign announced on Jobless Talk

In an effort to get Congress 'moving' on HR 589, the new 99er "Ex-Lax Attack" Campaign was announced on Friday's episode of Jobless Talk. The idea is one which has the potential to get media attention back on the suffering of the long term unemployed and something the jobless masses can have a little fun with.

Near the end of her weekly RANT, Paladinette said: "It is now Memorial Day 2011, nearly 18 months since many UI exhaustees had a benefits check - and still NO MOVEMENT on HR 589 - no big surprise. Ya know, often people look to me for what to do next in this fight. I constantly get emails and messages from 99ers asking me what do we do now. I wish I knew. But I am as lost as the rest of you as to what will make Washington DC actually MOVE on any legislation that could truly HELP hurting Americans BUT- I will suggest this:

It is time we mail Washington DC our Ex-lax, Seneca, fiber tablets, Metamucil, hell a half eaten bran muffin I don’t care and a note that explains why they must PASS HR 589 NOW or lose your job in 2012. We can’t wait and we will not forget or forgive no matter how much money you put toward your re-election!

I know many of you may not be able to afford to do this but get your youth and church groups involved in this and it may get us some press coverage to boot.

I think we all need to spread this campaign all over the net! EVERYWHERE!!! We need to send Washington DC massive amounts of ex-lax and tell the press and our members of Congress exactly WHY we are doing this! Or send them to the White House - This can also work to clearly convey to them the manure caliber job we feel they are doing in office.

Ex-Lax is just the term I am using, but any laxative will do - and just about everyone has an old laxative of some sort in their medicine cabinet. Don’t go out and buy anything special. We don’t want them to benefit from the product we are sending them. We just want to send a clear message that Congress is constipated!

I truly believe that this sort of symbolism might get the media attention once again focused on the long term unemployment problem in America and be a great human interest story as well."


#99ers: Mail EXLAX 2 Congress. GET THEM MOVING on HR 589 http://t.co/s8k0NUM

It was further discussed on todays Jobless Talk show that this can be just a package, or a coupon or a drawing sent by mail. Callers suggested that this next campaign can also incorporate the use of email and fax to Washington reps using a picture from google images in those communications.

The 99ers will also be creating a YouTube video in honor of the event, hopefully with appropriate music with poignant altered lyrics befitting the occasion.

Look for more information as it becomes available. Happy Memorial Day to all!

[please donate so I can keep on fighting for the 99ers! Thank You!]

Cat mom hugs baby kitten

This video has gone viral and is up to over 1.8 million views as I write this. The video "Cat mom hugs baby kitten," and uploaded by dragonmimet86 on YouTube, proves that we tend to like videos that are either cute and involve kids and animals, or bad and show adults at their worst behavior, usually fighting.

Why that is, I do not know.

But as for this video, the first and only one on dragonmimt86's channel, what this confirms is the emotional attachment a parent has to its offspring, regardless of species. It is a beautiful moment to watch on YouTube, and you can see that none of the commenters is referring to the cats using the N-word.

No, I'm not going to relax about that. Not one bit.

Oakland Budget Talk At Kwik Way Burger Joint Grand Opening

While open for about a month now, the official grand opening of the new Kwik Way on Lake Park Avenue, just five doors down from the Grand Lake Theater, happened last Sunday. A small group of people consisting of friends of the restaurant's owner Gary Rizzo, people from the neighborhood, and Oakland's District Two Councilmember Pat Kernighan, and this blogger, lined up to order everything from burgers and fries to chicken.

As I approached the eatery, I saw Lakeshore Business Improvement District Executive Director and friend Pam Drake, who explained that Rizzo received a great deal of help from the City of Oakland, and specifically Kernighan's office.

No, the City of Oakland didn't provide money, but did provide help in the way of expediting the permit process for Rizzo. And why not? The Kwik Way is a long dead landmark brought back to economic life. And already has become a place to hang over a decent, old-fashioned bag of fries.

Well, not too old-fashioned.

Someone put up a sign that day which complained that the food at the new Kwik Way wasn't the food at the old Kwik way. To that, I say, good! The old Kwik Way's food was entirely too greasy and that older establishment was accused of cooking a mouse and putting in someone's order of chicken. Thankfully, those days are gone.

The Oakland Budget and Kernighan

While at Kwik Way, I took time to talk with Councilmember Kernighan about the Oakland Budget and the looming $58 million deficit. I wondered if Oaklanders realized the severity of the problem. Pat said that she think's some people "get it," and have been keeping up with what's going on in the budget hearings and town hall meetings around Oakland.

But Pam then chimed in that some Oakland Councilmembers "didn't get it," causing Kernighan to come to the defense of her colleagues, saying that "they're starting to" realize there's a problem. Pat said "I think the resistance we're starting to see from some of my colleagues is that they feel that certain changes need to happen with the city. That they think that, for instance, the police and fire unions need to make their contributions."

Kernighan was quick to add that the Council's not taking an anti-union stance; they just want to see some movement from those organizations in the way of employee contributions to the pension system.

Deficit Illegal?

I then asked what would happen if Oakland elected to maintain its deficit rather than close it with cuts and taxes. Pat said that's "illegal," but I asked if that means she and the other Oakland Councilmembers could be sent to jail? She said she didn't know the answer to that question.

But, if the events in Bell, California - where that city charged property tax rates far above the legal state limit, and several Bell officials pocketed a lot of the revenue difference - are any indication of what could happen, the answer is that if Oakland ran a deficit in violation of state law, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office or the office of the State Attorney General could file criminal charges against the Oakland City Council.

In the case of Bell, its own City Attorney worked to determine which Bell official was responsible for the criminal acts, and said that any possible criminal charges would be up to the LA County DA and the Attorney General of California.

That gives a window into what John Russo could have done as Oakland's City Attorney if the City Council resisted him on the medical marijuana issue. In that case, Oakland was flirting with the possibility of violating Federal laws.

Stay tuned.

Jeff Conaway, Star Of 'Grease' And 'Taxi,' Dies At 60

Twitter's trend topics list features "Jeff Conaway," who most famously played Kenickie in the cult classic movie Grease and said "A hickey from Kenickie is like a Hallmark Card," died at the age of 60.

Reportedly, Conaway had been in a coma for two weeks. He suffered from drug addiction for much of his life as an actor.

As of this writing it's hard to locate a clip from his performance in Grease, which starred Olivia Newton John and John Travolta, but this one from the opening of the movie, and the cool song by Frankie Valli, features Jeff in animation:

And, after another search, the video below from the movie trailer for Grease has Conanway as Kenickie saying the line that made him famous, to Stockard Channing, who played Rizzo at the 1:18 mark:

Here's the AP video reporting Jeff's passing:

In his later years, Jeff Conaway, who also appeared on Celebrity Rehab, and while on the show, had what was described as a "meltdown."

YouTube Stop The N-Word; Glee PSA Compares It To "Retarded"

YouTube allows comenters to freely use the N-word on video pages, and the YouTube video maker, even YouTube Partners like this blogger, are powerless to do anything about it, outside of removing and banning trolls. A job unto itself.

As I stated in this video...

I've had enough of this, and am asking YouTube to in some way block the use of the N-word, or at least give me the option of doing so.

Now, in a timely fashion, the producers of the TV show Glee on the NBC Television Network, have issued a PSA aimed at discouraging the use of the "R-word," or "retarded" to describe mentally challenged people. And in that effort, Glee points to the N-word as one of the slurs that should not be used.

The PSA, which features Actress Jane Lynch, goes something like this:

It is not acceptable to call me a n—–,"a black man says. Then he's followed by Latina woman who remarks, "It is not acceptable to call me a s—." Then an Asian woman says a "ch—", followed by a gay man who says "f–". Finally a Jewish person says "k--."

Here's the video:

And they say "spread the word to end the word."

Why can't YouTube do that?  I don't care if some blacks use the N-word.  It's just plain wrong, and I don't want it on my channel. 

YouTube, Stop Use Of The N-Word - A Follow-Up

Earlier today I posted a blog entry asking YouTube to disallow use of the N-word, and made this video to explain as well:

Over at the YouTube Partner Forum, someone named ugleeee wrote:

Words are only as powerful as people allow them to be. The problem with the N-word is that black people (or so it seems) are not exactly united on a front to stamp out the word. You have a good portion of them that have attempted to 'take the word back' and change it's connotation. I think you'd have more luck with this if there were a more widely spread movement among blacks to stop use of the word.

I don't care if the comedian Chris Rock uses it. I don't care if "black people (or so it seems) are not exactly united on a front to stamp out the word," I don't want it used on my YouTube channel.

Moreover, regardless of how one turns it, being called the N-word makes the hair stand on your skin, one way or another.

What's really crazy about this, and perhaps speaks to how some of us (or perhaps most of us) as African Americans, seem to embrace a second-class status, is that the NBA makes a commercial asking the public not to use the F-word in reference to Gays, but I've never seen a commercial asking the public not to do the same with respect to blacks.

Something's wrong here.

But regardless of what's wrong, or what other black folks think, I don't want the N-word on my YouTube channel.

YouTube, Stop Use Of The N-Word, For Brand's Sake

The YouTube Partner Program was started in 2007 as a way to reward it's most popular video bloggers and encourage them to make even more video content.

The idea of the YouTube Partner Program, or what I will refer to as YTP on occasion here, is to match relevant ads with the video subject matter.

YTP is a great win-win for advertisers seeking space to place ads on YouTube pages; YouTube, which wants to make money from the content, and the YouTuber, like me, who makes the content.

Thanks to YouTube's now famous (and, one would guess, rich) News and Politics Editor Steve Grove, I was invited to become a YouTube Partner that same year, which arguably makes me one of YouTube's first partners.

Being a YouTube Partner is great in every way, except one: the allowed, unblocked use of the n-word in the comments' section on video pages. It's a problem YouTube must end, first, because I can't imagine any brand wanting to have it's name associated with any channel video page that's littered with such words in its comments section, and second, because it's just plain hurtful.

I spend a lot of time banning commenters and removing comments containing that racial epithet, but it's like trying to stamp out an army of ants. I've even toyed with the idea of starting a "YouTube N-word hall of shame" and making a video just to give light to YouTube account holders who use the word on my channel, thinking that would make them stop.

And then realizing the idea might backfire, and lead to greater use of it, not less.

And before you go on about how blacks use the n-word, this is one black man who doesn't use it, never has, and doesn't want anyone else using it around him, regardless of color.

And when it's used on my channel, it's not presented as a term of endearment, it's intended to insult and to harm me.

Look, I'm not complaining about being black, because from my perspective, you get to see how people really are. If you want to see if that so-called good hearted person really is just that, observe how they treat someone like me.

And yes, that goes for other African Americans, and all other "afro-something's" in the World.

While society has improved dramatically over my lifetime, it's now morphed into a culture war between racists and non-racists, and blacks who are self-hating versus those who aren't, as well.

And while open society may seems to have progressed to an even greater extent than my last sentence would imply, in the online World, it's different. There's racism at every turn, from commenters and trolls, to offensive blog posts and forums.

But YouTube should not be the place that reflects this problem, and especially not for its content producers like myself. I fear that I may be unfairly penalized for something I can't easily control. Am I losing ad dollars because I can't bat off every n-word?

Yes, I make a fair income from the YTP, and Google AdSense automatically places ads, but I can't see the advertisers decision that may lead to an ad not being on my channel. And how do I know what the reason is? From my cursory analysis, it's less about my appearance - after all I'm a good looking brother, I think - than it is about the comments and the n-word.

That's a problem that's unique to me as a black person, and at times, like when I discovered the use of the n-word up to 52 times each month, it frankly makes me cry. If I can avoid people who act like this in the real World, I should be able to do so on YouTube. I can't attract the best brands with this problem, even though they may understand it's beyond my control.

I have raised this issue with YouTube and other YouTube partners at partner meetups in the past, and the discussion went along the lines of "If you make money from the overall volume of comments, let them talk." But I'm tired of those comments popping up in my email box on a near-daily basis because they're hurtful.

There must be a better situation than this forced masochism.

YouTube commenters must understand that YouTube is a private company and my channel belongs to me. It's not a free speech public forum, but a business - at least for me. A business I can't run effectively if I can't control against undesirable words that could chase away advertisers. There's no example in modern history of an advertiser who was drawn to the use of the n-word, and scores of examples of advertisers running away from it.

YouTube itself would benefit from a ban on the use of the n-word because it would make the video-sharing site an even better place for marketers and for people of color, especially blacks like me. One of the first YouTube Partners.

That's not too much to ask for.  

Patients Satisfaction Surveys: Valid Test, Or Make-Work for Money?

Doc Gurley's Urban Health Beat, Reporting on Health, patient satisfaction, doctor reimbursementPerhaps you remember Sam, the chronic inebriate whose story I shared to discuss the pitfalls of basing doctor pay on patient satisfaction surveys.

Looking at his discharge papers, I wondered who helped Sam fill his survey out, and how much their "help" affected the results.

After all, millions upon millions of dollars are already now at stake for hospitals. And individual doctors' Medicare payments are expected to be based on their satisfaction scores, as early as the year 2015.

Surely these surveys are validated and standardized, right? Surely there is policing to prevent "helping" people fill them out? You might be surprised by the answers to those questions.

For instance, when you're talking about something like "satisfaction," there are some regions where patients are less forthcoming with praise (check out the difference between, say, a quiet night hospital score in California versus Alabama).

These scores also lack variability. Westby Fisher, a clinical associate professor at University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, calculated, with the Kaiser Foundation, the mean, median and standard deviation of hospital patient satisfaction data. Nationwide, there is just a two to six percent variation. In other words, the results vary arbitrarily, but very little. By statistical standards, it’s not a very good test.


Disclaimer: Identifiable patients mentioned in this post were not served by R. Jan Gurley in her capacity as a physician at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, nor were they encountered through her position there. The views and opinions expressed by R. Jan Gurley are her own and do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the City and County of San Francisco; nor does mention of the San Francisco Department of Public Health imply its endorsement.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sen Rand Paul Patriot Act Amendment Killed

As this blog post is written, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who this blogger considers to be a wacky guy on civil rights issues, is watching his Patriot Act amendment, called Amendment 348, go down in flames in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Paul, who worked to force an amendment to the Patriot Act that, if passed, would have effectively suspended the suspicious activity reports provision of the legislation, long and forcefully under the assertion that the basic rights of Americans were being violated.

But Mr. Paul's spirited presentation was greatly over-shadowed by fact that we live in a time of great fear of even possible terrorist attacks.

And when a deranged person is able to do harm to someone - as in the case of Jared Loughner's gun attack on Arizona Representative Gail Giffords - we ask 'How did they get the gun, and why wasn't law enforcement tracking them?'

Well, if Senator Paul had his way, America would have lost the ability to track any one who gave reasonable suspicion of terrorist behavior, by checking their gun purchasing records. Now are their abuses to the law? Yes. But throwing the 'baby out with the bathwater' isn't the answer.

Rand Paul sees the World via a rather narrow Libertarian lens. If he's to succeed beyond one term, he has to realize that view point, by design, is now always in accordance with America's desires.

Even hard-core conservative Republicans like Georgia's Saxby Chambliss (who said he owns more guns than anyone in the Senate) failed to support "my friend" Rand Paul in this vote, saying it would "harm law enforcement." 

Yeas 91, Nays, 4 Amendment 348 is withdrawn.  That means it's killed. 

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Vertex Incivek Patient Steve Goodwin On The FDA Approved Drug

In my last blog posts, I introduced the new drug INCIVEK by Vertex as a way to help people suffering from Hepatitis C. As I reported, Hepatitis C is a virus, particularly common among African Americans, and that causes inflammation of the liver.

Hepatitis C effects an estimated 270 million to 300 million people Worldwide, 30,000 people in Santa Clara County, 12,000 people in San Francisco City and County, and 2,400 new cases were reported in 2010.

For this blog post, and as promised, I interviewed the main advocate for the use of INCIVEK. His name is Steve Goodwin.

Steve Goodwin is a chief engineer and a one-person band, talking to anyone who will listen about INCIVEK. In the video, below, Goodwin eloquently explains how he came to find out about INCIVEK via the use of the website Clinical Trials, at clinicaltrials.gov, and how it's helped him to a more normal path of life.

Steve also wrote a paper of INCIVEK and how it's helped him, and all of this has been his doing because he's, frankly, happy to be alive. Here's what he wrote:

I am eternally grateful to Vertex Pharmaceuticals and the UCSF Medical Center, for providing me the opportunity to eradicate the virus that I likely had for over 35-years. I was part of a Phase 2b Study referred to as PROVE 3 in 2007. This study was designed for subjects with Genotype 1 Hepatitis C who had not achieved a Sustained Viral Response (SVR) with a prior course of interferon based therapy. I was most fortunate to be in the arm of the trial that has now been approved by the FDA. This included triple treatment of INCIVEK with the standard of care (SOC) for the first 12-weeks and then a continuation of pegylated interferon alpha 2a and ribavirin for the remaining 12-weeks. All said, my treatment was only 24-weeks compared to the previous SOC of 48-weeks.

Although I was asymptomatic for the approximate 35-years prior to obtaining the elusive cure, I knew that the viral infection was continuing to damage my liver in insidious ways that I was unaware of. I also educated myself on the disease and realized that I could not expect the disease to remain dormant forever. Recent studies have indicated that as an individual approaches the age of 60 and beyond, that the disease begins to progress at a much greater level, as compared to being young. The body’s ability to fight off the infection by replacing damaged liver cells is reduced with advancing age. I did not want to be part of those statistics and decided to do anything and everything I could to get the monkey off my back.

Regarding reported side effects, I would have to say that the worst thing for me was temporarily losing the ability to taste (hypogeusia) chocolate and coffee! As for the reports of rash, I had a slight increase in the sensation of itching (pruritus) but never broke out with any rash. I have inherited allergies and eczema, but found that I only needed to control myself from scratching. I found Gold Bond skin lotion as a great remedy for helping to reduce the itching and I wore white cotton socks over my hands while sleeping. I remembered the days when my daughters were babies! I tolerated the treatment quite well. I continued playing tennis, running the treadmill and traveled on vacation. So much of it has to do with attitude.

2007 was indeed a magical year for me. I was considered to be one of the most difficult groups of subjects to be treated: 1) treatment experienced – meaning that I had previously failed an interferon based treatment, and was a: 2) null responder - meaning that I had not achieved a 2-Log drop within the first 12-weeks of my previous treatment in 2003. I beat the odds and recognize that there are thousands of other people that remain infected today that did not achieve an SVR from a previous attempt at treatment.

Now does Steve's cheerleading benefit Vertex? Hell yes. But lost in that is the simple fact that the job of medicine to is save lives and help make our lives better. That's what happened for Steve Goodwin, and that's why he's so happy.

Tom Jones On American Idol, Mick Jagger On Grammys - Ageless Rockers

America got quite a cultural wake up call watching American Idol Wednesday night. After Scotty McCreery, who's bent is toward country music, won the singing competition, and got to meet Carrie Underwood backstage, the show ended with a performance by Sir Tom Jones.

Tom Jones, born June 7, 1940, is now 71 years old and from a time, the 1960s, of Go-Go Girls, James Bond, and his own show, demonstrated to a whole new audience that he's not only still got it, but at a high level.

The reaction to Mr. Jones was tremendous. "Tom Jones" as a keyword search was number one and listed as "Volcanic" on Google Trends and a top Twitter Topic, as well. When I shared a YouTube video of Jones' performance with my Mom - this one...

..My Mom's reaction was one of pure joy; she has been a big Tom Jones fan, and she raved about his performance, saying "He's from my time!"

With his American Idol presentation, Sir Tom effectively pushed together Americans who were 13, 33, 53, and 73 years old. Only a few performers can do that; Tom Jones and Mick Jagger are part of that club.

We're in a wonderful place where digital media has fused our culture in a way not possible 20 years ago. Jagger, The Rolling Stones front man, was rocking at the time of Tom Jones, and when he gave his rendition of "Everybody Needs Somebody," the reaction to 67-year-old Mick Jagger throwin' down at The 2011 Grammy's was equal to that of Tom Jones.

And, like Jones, young people who use Twitter to get their information, were sharing tweets about a person some in the media considered as getting too old to do his craft.

Forget it.

Mick Jagger and Tom Jones have shown that it's possible to have entertainers who transcend generations, and vast distances of time and culture, but that only could have happened with social media.

Social media has a larger and broader demographic distribution pattern than for standard media. So, a much larger part of the American culture is aware that Tom Jones and Mick Jagger kicked ass in the 21st Century, than would have been the case in the 20th Century.

Stay tuned.

Rob Woodall, Georgia GOP Congressman Health Care Hypocrisy

Georgia GOP Congressman Rob Woodall (GA District 7) was caught at a town hall meeting making a statement, or a series of them, that could only be borne of hypocrisy.

While lecturing a constituent about self-reliance, and saying "You want the government to take care of you, because your employer decided not to take care of you. My question is, 'When do I decide I'm going to take care of me?'"

But the woman he was trying to talk down to wasn't have any of it. She said I have a question about taking care of you. You have government subsidized health care, but you are not obligated to take that if you don't want to. Why aren't you going out on the free market in the state where you're a resident and buy your own health care? You lead by an example. Why aren't you leading by example?"

Congressman Woodall tried to dodge the question, but she's having none of it. Finally, after she pressed him regarding why he doesn't go and get health care on the open market, and takes the free, government-sponsored health care provided by the people of America, he says "Because it's free... Folks, if you give people something for free, you should expect them to take it."

Those are the words of a person who cares only about himself. The question is, does Congressman Woodall's selfishness represent the entire GOP?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan In Las Vegas For ICSC, Why Hide It?

This is a bit of news that wasn't in the newspapers, mentioned on blogs (until now), or covered on Twitter, save for one wayward tweet by the Washington DC Economic Partnership at International Council Of Shopping Centers Spring Convention in Las Vegas, and not by the Mayor of Oakland herself.

As you can tell by the photo with Washington DC Mayor Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the attendance registration image, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was in Las Vegas for the same International Council Of Shopping Centers Spring Convention on Monday.

As one of four people who started the annual trend of the City of Oakland having a presence at ICSC to promote development in Oakland in 1997, it's great to know that Mayor Quan was there, but sad to know she's trying to hide the fact she attended.

Her name's on the file published by ICSC and you can see here, in addition to the photo.

And in the Twitter tweet, it's reported that Quan was at the Washington DC booth. Here's the tweet:

wdcep wdcep
DC's Mayor Gray and city of Oakland Mayor Quan at DC's booth #lasVegasICSC http://yfrog.com/h68f9opj

What happened in Vegas was that, according to sources, Oakland's Community and Economic Development Director Walter Cohen held a staff meeting this week and made what were described as "vague comments about the overwhelming size of the (Las Vegas) Convention Center and that some good things happened," and the source added "which of course means very little." Then one source added:

Don't expect anything solid to come out of this. The City, frankly, was unprepared to offer any opportunities / incentives that were particularly appealing. We were told by retail brokers that the Mayor should have been prepared to combat crime perceptions -- that if she were to dent these perceptions in any small way, it would be considered a success.

But at least he was there with Mayor Quan. But Walter should not be "media quiet" about such trips and efforts, because it's all good news that no one knows about.

Oakland's ICSC Started With Me, Sort Of

Now, all of that said, there's nothing wrong with the Mayor of Oakland attending ICSC, but everything wrong with hiding the trip. In 1997, California Capital Group Managing Partner Phil Tagami, Kofi Bonner, who was then Oakland's Economic Development Director, Oakland Councilmember (District Two), now former City Attorney, and now Alameda City Manager John Russo,  and I as the Economic Advisor To Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, started Oakland's short, annual habit of attending the 32,000-strong event in Vegas.

The first year, we, Oakland, didn't have a booth, but by 1998, we did. And that year at Las Vegas ICSC, and with Mayor Harris, Councilmember Larry Reid (District Seven), Mr. Bonner, and Mr. Tagami, then-new City Manager Robert Bobb, Albert Ratner, Co-Chairman Of The Board of Forest City, and several staff members from both the City of Oakland's Office of Economic Development and Employment and Forest City in the room, I made a presentation to bring Forest City to Oakland, but not to do housing - to do retail development in the form of a "Times Square Of The West."

What happened can be described in two words: Jerry Brown.

It was clear then, that Brown was going to be Mayor of Oakland, and has this idea that became the "10,000 housing units in downtown" or "10K" project, but didn't share that with me at the time, as he wasn't officially Mayor.

But that year he won the primary election, and by November, because he had won by such a large margin there was no need for a runoff election.

Oakland had a new Mayor named Jerry Brown.

So, by the time in late September of 1998 Forest City's then-representative Greg Vilkin (who's now with real estate developer MacFarlane Partners as Managing Director) and I took a tour of what is now the Uptown District, and was then called The Uptown Entertainment District (a named coined by Mayor Harris), Greg popped up with "Actually, we were thinking about housing," after first agreeing that the retail plan we initiated was "exciting" while in Las Vegas, I figured that Jerry stuck his nose in my deal in some kind of way.

I was major league pissed off, but that's another story for another time.   The point is, we made a big effort, and we didn't hide the fact that we were in Las Vegas from the newspapers then.  I personally called the Oakland Tribune to tell them about it.

Tagami, Bonner, and I worked to do promote Oakland at ICSC way back in 1997 and in the late 90s. What's going on that Oakland has to reinvent the wheel 14 years later?

Considering that Walter Cohen was an occasional consultant to Mayor Harris in 1996, it's clear he learned nothing from watching what we did back then.

Walter, I'm disappointed in you, man.

ICSC is a place where real estate developers show off their latest shopping center and retail projects to potential retail tenants, investors, and cities. And cities show off their latest economic development projects for the same reasons.  It's all for business and economic development.

Many Oakland business friends I talk to say that Quan doesn't talk to the business community.  I don't think she's being mean about it, just that she may be afraid to do often so because she doesn't know how.

It seems Jean's more comfortable dealing with battling Oakland's social problems, than negotiating with businesses to come to Oakland, build the economy, and reduce the welfare state.

It's clear that Mayor Quan needs to know that a trip to Las Vegas ICSC is not only something a Mayor of Oakland should do, but Oakland itself should be do to.

It's too bad that what we -Tagami, Bonner, and I - started 14 years ago, an economic development effort for the city, hasn't continued into the 21st Century.

While it's true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the Mayor of Oakland can't afford such secrecy.

Did Christopher Meloni Tip Law & Order: SVU Departure At NFL Draft?

Actor Christopher Meloni has stunned fans and observers with his decision to leave the long-running TV Show Law & Order: SVU, according to the blog TVLine, which broke the story.

And it makes this blogger wonder if Chris Meloni was giving a tip that he was leaving during this interview at the NFL Draft Red Carpet:

As you may have caught if you're able to hear the video, Mr. Meloni said, in response to my question about an Academy Award-level movie in the future "There you go. I like the way you think. We have a lot of things that, you know, we're shuffling around now, and figuring out. There's not to much time, left."

I thought the reference about "time" was related to the time I had been given to interview him, but perhaps that wasn't the case at all. We were being rushed at the time, because the NFL Draft was about to start.

The AP Needs To Credit TVLine

The Associated Press, which has accused bloggers of "taking" its stories just by linking to them, then in 2010 reported that it would "start" crediting blogs (an admission of theft, if you ask me) failed to link to, or even credit, TVLine. That's totally wrong and unethical. I've told many, especially at Google News, the AP does this on a regular basis, and here's proof.

TVLine reports that:

Chris Meloni will not be reporting back for duty when Law & Order: Special Victims Unit launches its 13th season this fall, TVLine has learned exclusively.

Protracted talks between the actor — who has played Detective Stabler since the NBC crime drama’s 1999 debut — and studio NBC Universal broke down on Tuesday, says a source. Franchise creator Dick Wolf is said to already be searching for a big name to bring in opposite the series’ female lead, Mariska Hargitay.

Hargitay’s own deal to return for Season 13 remains unaffected.

Good luck to Chris Meloni, and shame on the Associated Press.