WWVB : What Would Vannevar Blog?

NextBurgh, PA          @VannevarB      About      Pittsburgh Murals
August 24, 2016

Whiten Up, Pittsburgh! And in the interim, use Gentrification Grey paint.

Once upon a time in East Liberty, before money arrived and created East Side (a name with less baggage), there was a mural titled "Lend Me Your Ears". It featured faces of black children.

The developer-owners wanted to repurpose the building as upscale housing - which to them was inconsistent with the mural, so they painted over the mural

Now, the new owners are seeking new artists to create a new artwork that reflects that vision; "a new generation of art for the new East Liberty'. I bet the new mural looks much different.

Once upon a time in Lawrenceville, there was a mural on a place called New Amsterdam. It draws on (perhaps appropriates?) Calavera imagery, used in Mexican culture (see, José Guadalupe Posada, and the Day of the Dead). You know: Mexicans. Gangs. Let's build a wall.

But that mural got painted over. (The observant reader will note the still-present Uneeda Biscuit advertisement painted on the adjacent building).

And on 8.23, an artist is painting a new mural, consistent with the new vision. Title unknown, my nickname is: "Ode to Car Culture, Which is really more threatening than Mexican mysticism".

Arrrggghhhhh. I envision that the East Liberty NextGen mural will feature pictures of Auto-Autos (autonomous Uber Volvos) discharging people from Fox Chapel. I would also like to start calling the type of gray paint used to cover a minority-theme mural, to wait a sufficient period of time, to be eventually painted over with a new image less threatening to commerce and white people: Gentrification Grey.

July 07, 2016

Uber & Black America in a Post-Jobs Economy

2016 is a post-jobs environment. The whole VC-world and business process improvement industry is focused on squeezing employees out of the business model. Manufacturing is gone. Middle-class jobs and unions are gone. It's very hard to find a job that supports a family. So we're in a post-jobs economy. Corporations want consumers but they don't want employees.

What happens to the families of people who were brought here as slave labor, and then worked in steel mills, union jobs, civil service jobs - when all those sectors are shrinking or gone? What happens to the people we forced here and forced to work, when there isn't any more work?

So they work the side-hustle. They sell loosies and CD's. They're doing what they can to support their families. They're breaking rules just like Uber-Lyft-AirBnB breaks rules for considerably less money.

and of course: you're next. Choose well.

June 12, 2016

Regrettable Impulses, the Orlando Pulse Killings, and the Second Amendment

For a long time in my life, I was an air traffic controller. When I'd see a news flash of a fatal crash, my first impulse was to ignore the reported details - because they're so often wrong. Generally my second impulse was (and remains) to think, I hope it wasn't a controller's fault. Let it be weather, or mechanical failure, but please don't let it be a controller's fault.

It's not an enlightened response. I've reflected on it over the years and it doesn't speak well of me, yet it remains my innate response. I'd hate for one of us to have killed people, and I'd hate to be the SOB that has to live with it. For instance, USAir 1493, who a controller cleared to land on top of another airplane that the controller had told to park in position on the runway but never cleared for takeoff, with a loss of 35 lives.

When I heard the news of the Orlando Pulse killings, and heard the body count roll from 20 to 50, my first thought was: what terrible thing to happen during Pride Week

My second impulse was: Oh no, what the idiots are going to do with this to call attention to their own agendas and themselves. And it didn't take long:

There's a lot of regrettable impulses.

There's no need for personal semi-automatic weapons in America. They didn't exist when the 2nd Amendment was written. If we want to scrupulously uphold the 2nd Amendment, we should not pass laws infringing the public's right to bear muzzle-loaded, black-powder, long rifles.

March 23, 2016

Wendy Bell's Legion of Colorblind Racists: the New Jim Crow

A WTAE personality - I can't say Journalist, or Announcer - named Wendy Bell made a Facebook post providing her understanding of both the recent Wilkinsburg shooting and of the current state of America. Her story tells us more about herself than about anybody else.

An insight into Wendy Bell isn't really that interesting, except that it provides a view into the perspective of the Legions of Wendy Bell's: educated, professional, successful people who's racism is so well coded that even they may not see it.

Wendy Bell doesn't think she's racist. She thinks she's a very nice person. She is, however, realistic and Wendy Bell and her Legions are: anti-criminal.

There's an excellent book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and I recommend it to you. It explains the Legions of Wendy Bell, and the situation we have today.

The 1980's War on Drugs criminalized drug use, and went further to militarize the police response to drugs. It further incentivized police and local governments to arrest and convict people for drugs. Police budgets are now dependent on the War on Drugs, and we're getting the police behavior we're incentivizing.

A funny thing: the people administering the War on Drugs found it much easier, and more profitable, to exercise their discretion and conduct their War with an emphasis on the black community.

So here's what's so effective: when you lock up a lot of black people, they're not only punished by their sentence - they're tagged as criminals and moved into an under-caste that's largely racially defined. They may serve 6 months or ten years, but their "criminal" label haunts their entire life. They won't get a decent job, they can't vote, own a firearm, or be on a jury. They are relegated to the status of a lower caste, and they'll never get out of it.

And so people like Wendy Bell don't have to judge racially - they can just rant about criminals, and they're not being racist, they're being realistic. Damn criminals. We don't stop to think about our system that makes them criminals, and the incentives and motivations behind that.

But most people are decent people, and they'd catch on to a system that moves all the black people into a lower caste. We've ingeniously been provided with Exceptional Black People that make the White Folks comfortable. Barack Obama, Colin Power, Ben Carson - remarkable brilliant people that tell us we're post-racial. Just like that smiling, rhythmic, dancing, hard-working child in the restaurant that Wendy Bell gave the Manager such good feedback on - you've got a good one, there!

And so we lock them up, and remove them from the economy, and treat them like a lower caste or even a different type of people. But it's because they're criminals, don't you see; it's not that their black. This is the new Jim Crow. First it was Slavery, then it was Segregation, and now it's Mass Incarceration.

Against that backdrop, this one Wendy Bell is insignificant. But the Legion of Wendy Bells needs to be enlighted, educated, corrected, confronted. Especially as the media rep for a company that presents itself as an EEO employer.

 the TL-DR of W.Bell's post:
My Momma told me, If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. But: I've been dragging around this feeling like a cold I can't shake that rattles in my chest each time I breathe and makes my temples throb. I don't want to hurt anymore. I'm tired of hurting. Key points: I come from a good family and traditional values. I am in pain. This is about me.

You needn't be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers. I will tell you they live within 5 miles of Franklin Avenue and Ardmore Blvd. They are young black men. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They've been arrested. They've made the circuit. Key points: The shooters are the black people our parents warned us about: multiple siblings, multiple fathers. They've hardened criminals.

But there is HOPE. A young, African American teen hustling like nobody's business at a restaurant. This child stacked heavy glass glasses 10 high and carried three teetering towers of them in one hand with plates piled high in the other. Got down on his hands and knees to pick up the scraps that had fallen to the floor. And he did all this with a rhythm and a step that gushed positivity. He moved like a dancer with a satisfied smile on his face. I couldn't take my eyes off him. He's going to Make It. But there is HOPE. I found a young black child who cleans up my scraps, with a rhythm and a step, and a happy smile.

I asked to see the manager. I told him that that young man was the best thing his restaurant had going. The manager beamed and agreed that his young employee was special. I saw the manager put his arm around that child's shoulder and pat him on the back in congratulation. It will be some time before I forget the smile that beamed across that young worker's face -- or the look in his eyes as we caught each other's gaze. I wonder how long it had been since someone told him he was special. So I went and told his boss, That's a good one. I did a good thing.

There's someone in your life today who could really use that. A hand up. A warm word. We can't change what's already happened, but we can be a part of what's on the way. Speak up. Dare to Care. And then -- just maybe THEN -- I'll start feeling again like there's something nice to say. Let's focus on the good ones, and then maybe I'll feel good again.

February 24, 2016

America doesn't have 'a' gun problem. We have several gun problems.

February 22, 2016

Better Call Saul spoiler: Jimmy & Kim are kin though Chuck; shock results in Saul Goodman

I am generally not a television viewer, but I enjoyed Breaking Bad and I've been enjoying Better Call Saul. I have a prediction: Jimmy's love interest, attorney Kim Wexler, is his sibling. Neither of them know.

Kim Wexler, we've been told several times, was put through school by lawfirm HHM. Law firms don't do that. Why would HHM put Kim Wexler through college and law school?

Because she's the undeclared, unaware love child of Chuck McGill, who uses HHM as a facility to tie up his loose ends.

Jimmy and Kim find happiness together. They consummated their relationship last week. They're going to develop a bit of depth together.

Maybe they're going to get engaged. Maybe Chuck finds out about their affair and says, Hey you can't do that. Somehow, Kim becomes aware of the reason for HHM's support and her lineage and then eewwwwww - the happiness between Jimmy and Kim has been incestuous.

Jimmy's happiness has once again been turned to ashes in his mouth by Chuck's machinations. This is what turns him from James McHill to Saul Goodman.

You heard it here first.