McMansion Hell: the Campbell County, Wyoming edition

McMansion Hell (previously) continues to tear through America's most affluent ZIP codes with trenchant commentary on realtors' listings for terrible monster homes; in the current edition, critic Kate Wagner visits Campbell County, Wyoming, home to some of the most ill-considered monstrosities in America. As always, she is laugh-aloud funny as she tackles the "Divorce Lawyer house," a 6,000 square foot house from 2002, listed for a mere $700k. Read the rest

The saddest song: setting the "Amazon Ambassador" borg-tweets to music

Jonathan Mann (previously) writes, "Like many people, I've been disturbed by the borg-like tweets coming out of the Amazon Ambassador program. I took a few of the bleakest ones and set them to music. It turned into an incredibly sad song." Read the rest

Paying for climate change: the question isn't "How?" but "Who?"

Writing in Wired, political scientist Henry Farrell points out what should be obvious: we're going to pay for climate change (that is, either we're going to rebuild the cities smashed by weather and take care of the people whose lives are ruined, or we're going to pay to cope with the ensuing refugee crisis), so the question isn't "how can we possibly pay for climate change?" but rather, "Will the people who profited from pumping CO2 into the atmosphere pay, or will their victims be left on the hook for their greed and recklessness?" Read the rest

Germany's powerful IG Metall trade union is organizing Youtubers to force Google to play fair

As Google has enacted a series of high-handed, opaque changes to how Youtube monetizes, upranks and censors videos, Youtubers have found themselves battered by the changes: they built Youtube into a global multi-billion-dollar success story, but they don't get a say in how it's managed. Now, a group of Youtubers have teamed up with Germany's powerful IG Metall trade union to fight back, using Europe's broad privacy laws and Germany's broad labor laws to force the company to come to the negotiating table and give them a say in how the service is run. You can read more about it on the Fairtube campaign site. Read the rest

How Memphis's Methodist University Hospital, a "nonprofit," sued the shit out of its Black, poor patients while raking in millions and paying execs more than a million each

Methodist University Hospital in Memphis is a nonprofit: it pays virtually no local, state or federal tax; but unlike other Methodist hospitals, Methodist University Hospital is relentless in pursuing medical debts from indigent patients. The hospital owns its own collection agency, and is one of the leading litigants in Tennessee's debt courts. Read the rest

After American juvenile offenders are released, they can be re-imprisoned for failing to make restitution payments

Many states require criminals to make financial restitution to the victims of their crimes -- paying to replace the things the damaged or stole -- and this applies to juvenile offenders as well as adults. Read the rest

Stop saying "robots are coming for your job"; start saying "Your boss wants to replace you with a robot"

Tech reporter and sf writer Brian Merchant (previously) calls our attention to the peculiar construction of the problem statement in articles about automation and obsolescence, in which "robots are coming to steal your job." Read the rest

Supreme Court of Canada to rule on the enforceability of arbitration clauses

Back in January, an Ontario court ruled that Uber's arbitration clause couldn't keep its drivers from suing it; Uber has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has taken up the case and will hear arguments about whether arbitration clauses (through which the parties surrender the right to sue in court) are enforceable in "adhesion contracts" (contracts that are not negotiated, where one party has much less power than the other, such as in click-through agreements). Read the rest

Connecticut's racist NIMBYs have used zoning laws and dirty tricks to make it one of the most unequal, racially segregated states in the union

Racism and oligarchy aren't merely Blue/Red phenomena: Connecticut has had a Democratic legislature for 22 years and a Democratic governor for eight years, and it is one of the nation's most racially segregated, unequal states, divided into affluent, all-white cities and towns with virtually no affordable housing and poor, underserved towns primarily inhabited by racialized people, whose children are five times more likely to be imprisoned than the white children across the city line a few miles away. Read the rest

The Oliver Twist workhouse is becoming a block of luxury flats with a "poor door"

The incredible human misery on display at the workhouse attached to central London's Middlesex Hospital inspired Charles Dickens to write "Oliver Twist"; now, Camden council has granted a developer permission to develop the site into luxury flats (just in time for the luxury flat crash!), in exchange for a commitment to build some below-market-rent social housing flats, which will be accessible through "poor doors." Read the rest

Exploitation of workers becomes more socially acceptable if the workers are perceived as "passionate" about their jobs

In a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a team from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business found that people look more favorably on exploiting workers (making do "extra, unpaid, demeaning work") if the workers are "passionate" about their jobs. Read the rest

Delta targets its workers with anti-union apps that push deceptive memes

Aviation is one of America's most concentrated industries, and workers have steadily lost ground to shareholders and execs, who have enriched themselves with tactics like flying planes to South America for maintenance by non-union technicians who do not speak the language that the maintenance manuals are written in. Read the rest

A former college admissions dean explains the mundane reverse affirmative action that lets the rich send their kids to the front of the line

Thanks to the college admissions scandal the issue of inequality and access to postsecondary education is now in our national conversation, but despite the glitz of the bribery scandal, the real issue is a much more mundane form of reverse affirmative action that allows wealthy Americans to dominate college admissions, muscling out better candidates from poorer backgrounds, especially Black students. Read the rest

After elderly tenant was locked in his apartment by his landlord's stupid "smart lock," tenants win right to use actual keys to enter their homes

Tenants in New York City have reached a settlement with their landlord requiring the landlord to install actual locks with actual keys on demand, rather than insisting that all tenants use locks from Latch, the leading Internet of Things "smart lock" vendor, whose products conduct fine-grained surviellance on their users, which the company reserves the right to share with third parties. Read the rest

Googlers around the world down tools for "Knit and Sit" protest over retaliation against organizers of last year's googler uprisings

Senior Google employees Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton were key organizers of last year's string of googler protests, including the 20,000-employee walkout over the company tolerance and rewarding of execs who engaged in sexual harassment; last month, Whittaker and Stapleton revealed that they had been targeted for retaliation by the company; now, a group of googlers around the world have staged another walkout in solidarity with Whittaker and Stapleton, this one a "sit-and-knit" that was also held in solidarity with women who've had their sexual harassment claims mishandled by Google. Read the rest

Assessing Occupy's legacy

In 2011, activists began an occupation of Zucotti Park near Wall Street, starting a movement that spread around the world and changed the discourse around wealth, inequality, corruption and justice. Read the rest

Ghost warrants: US cops routinely arrest people for warrants that were canceled long ago, and lock them up for months before discovering the error

The US has a patchwork of systems for checking outstanding warrants -- it's worst in the south, where paper records and a system that is "labyrinthine and informal" exacerbates the problem -- which means that cops often mistakenly arrest people for having outstanding warrants that were canceled long before. Read the rest

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