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

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.