The Urban Pioneers – They care more than you do.

The Oxford Dictionary definition:

Gentrification –

Noun

the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.

Gentrification 1Gentrification 2

The Real World definition:

Gentrification –

Noun

well-to-do white professionals buying dilapidated residential and commercial structures in rundown ghettos populated by the working (and non-working) poor at low prices, driving them out because increased property values mean higher rents which they can’t afford, then spending tens of thousands of dollars on renovations and upgrades, opening avant garde galleries and trendy restaurants, coffee shops and bars and living in fabulous homes and apartments with exposed brick walls, original hardwood floors with hand-carved rails and trim beneath high ceilings where carefully selected blends of antique and contemporary furniture mingle with prints and paintings by artists no one really knows (but nothing enhances ones illusion of gravitas more than art knowledge: “Ahh, Chirico, so compelling – so mysterious”). The granite countertops, the stainless steel backsplash and the pewter hardware adorning the cherry cabinets were all mined in “oppressed” nations, delivered to port on fossil fuel propelled trucks, shipped across the ocean on gigantic steel-hulled ships and ultimately delivered to the front door by men driving fossil fuel propelled trucks, “but let’s talk about what we can do to raise awareness about Global Climate Change over a steaming vente double Latte later at the Sentient Bean.” Forget that the Cherry Wood cabinets are from real trees that were cut down by real men with gas-powered chainsaws. Like every other business, in order to maintain a constant supply of product, they don’t need you to raise awareness about tree conservation. Their capitalist self interest takes care of that. They wouldn’t be in business very long if they didn’t do everything in their power to generate a constant and reliable supply of their product, but if it makes you feel better you can still lament that their motives are profit-driven, not altruistic – and when little Oliver or Jasper or Mindi (with an i) are school-aged it’s understood they will under no circumstances attend a (Fill in the name of your city here) Public School (you never gave a second thought to their poor physical condition and subpar academic records until you had children of your own).

Inner City School

“There must be some quality private schools nearby, right honey?”

“Yes dear.”

Private School

The truth is, I have absolutely no issue at all with gentrification. I support it completely. It’s as fine an example of capitalism as you’ll find. Buy low / Sell high. Nothing is more American than making a profit.

The displacement of the poor doesn’t bother me either. Capitalism has winners and losers. There are other homes and apartments they can rent or buy while they work their way up the economic foodchain until they can afford to move into their old (now gentrified) neighborhood.

What I object to are the very people who’ve displaced the poor and don’t want them anywhere near their newly renovated neighborhoods, lecturing me and others about diversity (they talk the talk but don’t walk the walk) police oppression (who do they think keeps them safe while they run the streets at night in their sporty UnderArmour or Nike or Adidas gear stitched together in communist Vietnamese sweatshops, with armband-mounted cellphones and FitBits made by Chinese wage-slaves strapped to their wrists) and global warming (coal and natural gas provide the energy that powers their Keurigs and charges their iPads).

The reason I like hanging out in the taverns, restaurants and galleries of these reclaimed parts of town is because of their complete lack of diversity. I feel safe under the umbrella of robust police protection and I appreciate the neon lights, live music, HVAC and great food all delivered to me, unseen and unheard, courtesy of fossil fuel-driven energy plants.

Power Plant

The difference between Us is simple:

Hypocrisy –

Noun

The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

**Originally Posted on 2 Dec 2017**

Free Speech – Bring it On

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

 

For reasons I fail to understand, there seems to be some controversy surrounding the First Amendment Right to Free Speech these days, not just on college campuses, but across America as it relates to “Hate speech” and what should be allowed to be said, and what shouldn’t.

The fact that this is even a topic of discussion suggests to me a complete failure on the part of our educational system to teach students about the nature of Free Speech, and, more broadly, the failure to teach critical thinking skills.

Of all the rights bestowed upon us by God, or by Nature if you prefer, the right to free expression is the most fundamental. From the mouths of Free people flow the words that give life to all the other Rights. Throughout history, examples can be cited where emperors, kings and dictators have punished, in one form or another, those who spoke out against their rule, although recent communist governments, from Stalin to Modern China, have perfected the art of free expression suppression. The gulags, prisons, re-education camps and killing fields are piled high with the bodies of those who dared to exercise their Natural Right as Human Beings to speak out against their government.

Soviet Gulag

Cambodian Killing Field Memorial

Violence is the first instinct of the unrighteous.

I’ve always been of a mind that every voice should be heard, regardless of how repugnant or unsavory their views. Why shouldn’t they? This is America. How can I in good conscience deny them the right to speak. Who made me the arbiter of what can be said, and what can’t. So let them all speak. The KKK, Black Lives Matter, the Communist party, the Nazi party etc..etc…bring it on. I’m an adult. I can take it. Do you know why I can take it? Because after hearing what they have to say, I can exercise my favorite Rights -The Right to Ignore. The Right to Marginalize. The Right to Agree. The Right to have a few laughs at their foolish expense – In fact, I find exposure to views antithetical to mine helps me crystallize my own principles by compelling me to revisit those principles and remember why I hold them and how I arrived at them in the first place.

Pardon me in advance for the forthcoming strawmen, but here they are. There are people in America today, in 2017, primarily in academia, who justify the exclusion of conservative speakers from their campi on the grounds they cannot in good conscience support “hate speech.” My question to them is, “Who died and made you the judge of what constitutes “hate speech” and what does not?” I can almost forgive the young students their constitutional ignorance, given their age and deficit of life experience, but I cannot, under any circumstances, give the faculty and administrators the same pass. They should know better. Inevitably, they fall back on the “if Hitler had been silenced, history would be different,” argument. While it’s true history would be much different if Hitler’s Nazi Germany had never existed, to suggest any similarities between the German Weimar Republic of the 1920’s and 1930’s and modern America is just stupid and reeks of willful ignorance. In short, they were a bankrupt and monolithic nation suffering under the crushing debt of post-WW1 debt – it would’ve been a miracle if a strongman, Hitler or otherwise, hadn’t appeared. The America of today can hardly be seen in the same light. There is not, nor has there ever been, a nation where bad ideas (slavery, anarchy, communism etc..) have been planted in such rich soil and failed to take root. Americans are so accustomed to the idea of Freedom that any ideology, philosopy or -ism that challenges it will be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

Just like old times.

Tarred and Feathered

So let them speak. Let everyone speak. Agree with what you hear – or reject what you hear. It’s your Right.

I have abiding faith in the good sense of my fellow Americans to choose what is worthy of hearing and what is not.

**Originally Posted on 1 Dec 2017**

North Korea and Kim Jong Un’s Future

Shame on everyone in the International Community for allowing North Korea to get where they are today. From Bush 1 to Clinton to Bush 2 and Obama. Appease. Sanction. Strategic Patience. Appease. Sanction. Strategic Patience.

North Korea is – and has been – a broken state since the end of hostilities in 1954. Enabled by the Chinese and ignored by the United Nations (save for sanctions that only harm the people, not the regime), they are now an imminent nuclear threat to the free nations of the Pacific, and very soon, the United States mainland itself.

How did this happen?

1) The Chinese – the world’s largest communist nation likes having another communist regime on their border. The last thing they want is Korean re-unification. If that were to happen they’d have an American style democracy right across the Yalu River where their own people could see and hear with their own eyes and ears, the way a free nation functions. Today, in China, there are words, phrases, videos etc..that are inaccessible on Social Media (Thanks Apple, Google, Facebook) There’s nothing the pseudo-communist Chinese fear more than their citizens rising up (again) to demand Freedom. They haven’t forgotten Tiananmen Square.

Tianenmen Square Photo 2

The more people see of Freedom, the more they want it.

2) The International Community – the world doesn’t have the stomach for the type of warfare required to end the Kim Jong Un regime. The recent wars in the Middle East, and the Vietnam War fifty years ago were small affairs compared to what a full-scale showdown with North Korea might look like. With Seoul situated just south of the DMZ there’s no doubt the North Korean’s would bombard the city with conventional weapons, costing tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of lives. That assumes they don’t just destroy the city with nuclear weapons. A conventional assault against North Korea would be even more costly. They are a poor nation, but what resources they do have are mostly reserved for their Armed Forces, which boasts 1.2 million active duty soldiers and a staggering 7.7 million trained reservists. A conventional war could easily cost up to a million deaths – or more.

Because the International Community has failed to act, there is really only one option remaining to eliminate the North Korean threat:

Assassination

Despite all of his power I imagine Kim Jong Un goes to bed every night and sleeps with one eye open. He must understand that he is a one-man state and that everyone who serves him does so out of fear for their lives and the lives of their families – certainly not out of genuine loyalty.

I expect to wake up one morning in the very near future and read in the papers that he’s been assassinated – and find not one person on earth shedding a tear over his demise. Comically, I imagine the reaction of the North Korean people will be the same as the guards at the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West who celebrated after Dorothy killed her with a bucket full of water.

The Wicked Witch gets WhackedThe Guards say Thanks

Pure Joy.

If this sounds cold-hearted, take a look at this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2gbTKzkDJE) and this (http://www.ebaumsworld.com/…/north-korea-child-ch…/85217282/) before you shed any tears for Kim Jong Un.

The logistics of the likely assassination are murky. It could be anyone in his inner circle brave enough to risk it, knowing they will either be rewarded handsomely if they are successful, or tortured mercilessly if they fail. Maybe they’ll use a pistol, but more likely he’ll end up dead with a huge load of shit in his pants like his half-brother whose assassination he engineered a few years ago (https://globalnews.ca/…/38…/kim-jong-nam-signs-of-poisoning/).

I fully expect the US Government and the Chinese Government to coordinate the effort and have a very specific post-Kim plan in place immediately. This plan will not include re-unification. The Chinese will not allow it for the reason stated above. Rather, the US will agree to allow the Chinese to install a puppet government favorable to their own ideology – communism-lite – all the benefits of Capitalism without any of the messy Freedom that accompanies it. The US will agree to this plan because 1) It avoids a costly war (in Blood, and Treasure – the primary reason. 2) It gives President Trump a huge foreign policy win for slaying the North Korean Nuclear Dragon. Should anyone side with the late Kim Jong Un and complain that assassinating the leader of a sovereign nation is a massive violation of International protocol etc..etc..they will likely find themselves standing alone. The simple response of course is, “would you have killed Hitler to save the lives of millions and millions of innocent people?” 3) With a much less aggressive government installed in North Korea we could greatly reduce our military footprint on the DMZ, saving us hundreds of millions of dollars a year. A huge financial win for the President. 4) Kim Jong Un’s departure allows millions of people in the region to sleep more safely at night. 5) The people of North Korea, though still unfortunately under the thumb of a communist China-backed regime, should expect the new boss to be significantly less murderous than the old boss. 6) The explicit message sent to every rogue nation (Iran) on the planet.

If Kim Jong Un wants to continue enjoying the company of teenage sex slaves at his many lavish palaces (http://www.foxnews.com/…/kim-jong-un-plucks-teen-sex-slaves…) well into his old age, it would behoove him to step far back from the brink – sooner rather than later. Otherwise, he’ll find himself on the losing end of one of President Trump’s tweets being described as:

Kim Long Gone

Hacked to Digital Death

So it’s being reported that Uber was hacked back in October of 2016 to the tune of over 57 million users – drivers and passengers – having their names, email addresses and phone numbers compromised. Fortunately, no social security numbers, credit card data or trip location details were stolen.

Hacked to Digital Death

How comforting.

Being data raped is nothing new for those of us living in the 21st century. Take a look at this partial list of “data compromises” (don’t you just love that phrase) we’ve endured so far:

Yahoo – 2013/2014 – 3 billion user accounts accessed

Adult Friend Finder – 2016 – 412 million user accounts accessed (raise your hand if you’re one of these unfortunates. Yeah, I didn’t think so. What’s more alarming here? That this many users were compromised – or that there are 412 million users)

eBay – 2014 – 145 million user accounts accessed

Equifax – 2017 – 143 million user accounts accessed

Target stores – 2013 – 110 million shoppers data accessed

TJX Companies (TJ Maxx and Marshalls) – 2006 – 94 million user accounts accessed

U S Office of Personnel Management – sensitive personal information of over 22 million current and former Federal Government employees (“Trust me, I’m from the Government and I’m here to help”)

Sadly, I could go on and on. Much like the horrific body counts in Chicago, Baltimore, the entire country of Mexico etc..we’ve become desensitized to the digital carnage. “Hey honey, there’s been a data hack at the XYZ corporation. I think we’d better change our password just to be safe.”

“Sure darling, I’ll get right on it – after dinner. I’m starving.”

Ho hum.

What’s fascinating about this particular hack is the way it was “managed.” As stated in the beginning of this article, the data compromise occurred in October 2016. However, the security breach was not made public until now, November 2017, more than a year after it was discovered by Uber executives, most notably ex-CEO and Uber founder, Travis Kalanick. At the same time Uber was trying to keep the hack under wraps from the public and hidden from miscellaneous Federal regulators, they unbelievably paid 100k to the people responsible for the hack with an understanding the crooks would not only delete the stolen data once the payment was received but also remain silent about the crime. How Uber was going to validate the thieves promised destruction of the data is unknown – also unknown is how long the hackers would wait before returning to the digital well for another 100k sip.

Blackmail – bit by bit.

The appropriate heads have rolled and a new management team is in place at Uber spouting the same old tired corporate platitudes about a “new customer-focused direction ahead,” and “new, more robust security procedures are currently being implemented to blah, blah blah your privacy and yada, yada, yada how much we value each and every customer and driver.”

Yeah, that’s what we want. More word head from a corporate schnook in a $900 suit.

In fact, if you’re a current or former Uber driver whose Drivers License data was “compromised,” the company is offering to provide you with free credit protection monitoring AND free identity theft protection.

How generous.

Honestly, with all of the hacks, breaches, compromises etc..etc..I don’t care anymore. With so many digital fish swimming in the information ocean I figure the odds of someone actually catching my card and using it to live large are pretty slim.

(Besides, just between you and me, I’ll have the last laugh if some genius Russian, Hungarian or Chinese hacker tries to use my credit information to buy a new Ferrari. I’m broke as shit and my credit score has to stand on its toes to tickle the belly of 500 – ha ha, fuck you, hackboy).

**This article was originally published on 28Nov2017**