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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Year 2016 in review - 11 years of blogging - Am I too blind to blog?

Selfie taken taken by Thomas Kraemer on Christmas Eve in 2016

PHOTO: Selfie taken taken by Thomas Kraemer on Christmas Eve in 2016. Please excuse me if my selfie is poorly lit and composed, but I have been slowly going low vision blind over the last few years and I can no longer recognize faces, even of people I have known for years, due to my brain's neurological disorder, called prosopagnosia (i.e. face blindness), related to an ischemic stroke in the posterior cerebral artery area of of brain that has caused a diffuse area of brain death typical of an impact injury and not due to the more typical reason of fat cells breaking off the walls of the arteries. I was barely able to take this picture and upload it to Google Blogger and Photos thanks to the accessibility features built-in to Microsoft's operating system and Internet Explorer Browser for people with various disabilities. Of course, it has been much easier to adapt to using these accessibility features given my previous familiarity with the software commands needed, but as my symptoms worsen over time, I have been forced to adapt more and more, with a tradeoff of not being able to read or do as many things fast as I did them before. For example, if I lose the ability of using a graphical window and mouse interface and I am forced to use a text and command line interface like what was the only computer interface available when I first used a computer in 1964, then even using a modern accessibility feature of a voice and speech interface will not be quick and easy to use as the decades old computer command line interface.

As I said last year, I don't know how long I will be able to continue blogging given my worsening low vision blindness and muscle paralysis, but I am grateful to still have the ability required for posting my favorite links and posts from last year 2016:

Also, my previous post HP 3-D printers praised by Jim Cramer CNBC Wall Street reporter (7/24/16) preceded two related newspaper articles of interest by Staff, "Future of 3-D printing is topic of forum," Gazette-Times, Nov. 1, 2016, p. A2 and a follow-up article by Anthony Rimel, "HP Plans 3-D printers for manufacturing," Gazette-Times, Nov. 3, 2016, p. A2, online as, "HP exec says company's 3-D printers will lead to new industrial revolution," posted Nov. 3, 2016 that mentions Tim Weber, global head of 3-D materials and advanced applications for HP Inc. talking about. Clearly, he has adopted the HP founder's strategy that avoided dependence on the retail market, like inkjet printers ended up in, by focusing on 3-D printers and materials for manufacturers. Tim's PhD in Mechanical Engineering makes this a perfect cap to his career.

. . . the company's new Multi Jet Fusion 3-D printers at a Chamber lunch, saying that while the printers were designed in Spain, they use printhead technology that was developed in Corvallis. . . . Weber said typically 3-D printers make things by extruding material from a single point, which he likened to a hot glue gun. According to Weber though, HP's 3-D printers use printheads based on their ink printers to spray a reacting agent from multiple points onto a nylon based powder and cause the two to fuse into a solid piece by using ultraviolet light to power the reaction.

Weber said this process is faster and allows for manufacturers to customize the material they work with and make parts that are comparable to what could be made through injection molding. Manufacturers interested in customizing the material used in their printer could work with HP in Corvallis to develop a powder that meets their needs. . . .

He said the machines will run from around $100,000 to $250,000, and are not intended as a consumer product. "Right now we're really going after manufacturing," he said. According to Weber, for runs of parts up to about 55,000 units, their 3-D printers would be cheaper than injection molding, which require expensive molds be cast.

(Quoted from Anthony Rimel, "HP Plans 3-D printers for manufacturing," Gazette-Times, Nov. 3, 2016, p. A2, online as, "HP exec says company's 3-D printers will lead to new industrial revolution," posted Nov. 3, 2016)

See my previous ten annual reviews of my blog posts:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Why Trump is queer and loved by many men and women

VIDEO: (no longer available for free) U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is interviewed by Fox News Sunday," on Dec. 11, where he shows his true nature, in response to a question about his opinion on the quality of election night TV coverage, by bragging, "I know the folks at ESPN were saying that's one of the great things they've ever watched. You know, they watch all the great games and the fights and all of the things and they said, one of them said it's the single greatest event they've ever seen." (See text transcript of "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace," Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016 at approx. 59 min into show over the air and Fox News Channel at 2PM ET and 10PM ET)

After watching the above interview of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Fox news Sunday, I noticed that Trump has queer gender behavior, which is what prompted me to write the following letter to the editor of my local newspaper:

President-elect Donald Trump's popularity with many voters, including both men and women, appears to be based on his sexist facade, which includes the queer mixture of him acting like a masculine and tyrannical football coach intermixed with him also acting like a feminine and temperamental theatre arts director who has never come out of the closet to publically acknowledge his true nature.

Trump showed his true nature when Fox News Sunday" on Dec. 11 asked him about the election night TV coverage and he bragged, "I know the folks at ESPN were saying that's one of the great things they've ever watched. You know, they watch all the great games and the fights and all of the things and they said, one of them said it's the single greatest event they've ever seen."

Like a coach or a director, Trump will remain popular only long as he has a winning team or produces shows that voters want to watch.

I will confess to enjoying Trump's showmanship, but worry that Trump's lack of integrity and conservative principles will lead America to another Great Depression and world war.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Musings about Trump's true nature," Gazette-Times, Dec. 23, p. A8)

Despite Republicans wining control of both Congress and the U.S. Presidency, instead of Trump's supporters acting and talking like winners, Trump supporters still whine about being victims of the "liberal media" or the so-called "political correctness" imposed by that "evil Democrat Party." I guess the rightwing media has been inciting the Republican base with the propaganda that "Republicans are victims of liberal Democrat Party politicians" for so long that the base doesn't know how to act like winners in the majority.

Yes, perhaps these were real issues for Republicans decades ago, but in my experience Republicans won't become good leaders if all they can do is blame everyone else for America's problems, instead of Republicans taking ownership for their own part. Yes, Republicans' stereotypical complaints have helped Fox News succeed over the last two decades, but Republicans are now clearly in charge and will stay popular long as they keep a winning team and produce shows that people want to watch.

In contrast to most Republicans acting like they are still victims, Trump's egotism and vanity has let him act like a winner, despite the fact he failed to win the popular vote, much less get a majority of American's to support him. Perhaps his supporters have less of an ego and that is why they are so defensive about his win because they can see Trump doesn't really have support from a majority of Americans.

I have also been surprised by how Trump has caused a realignment of the definitions of a Republican away from being an anti-gay Christian Theocrat, backward toward one of Repubilcans supporting the capitalist's ethics of every man for himself and let the weak die out naturally. I believe that Trump's queer politics has caused a realignment of traditional political groupings in a divisive way that has also led to the breakup of friendships, including some of mine. For example, see the excellent essay by the famous queer author, Michelangelo Signorile, "Why We Can't Be 'Friends' Any Longer After You Voted For Donald Trump," posted Dec. 13, 2016. Signorile also points how Trump supporters are still claiming to be victims and he says, "I get that. But we are in a grave situation, with little time to spare. At this current moment, since you don't see that we're in a national emergency (to which you contributed), you may only be jarred if your comfortable life is affected -- such as by losing one or more friends and being forced to reflect on the magnitude of what you've done."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

PBS Minnesota LGBT history, Oregon Lt. Col. Pam Mindt donor to U of Minnesota Tretter Collection

Headline 'Tretter Collection makes purchase of Magnus Hirschfeld Li family estate' Jan. 2007 p. 1 cover

PHOTO: cover of newsletter story by Jean-Nickolaus Tretter, "Tretter Collection Makes Purchase of Magnus Hirschfeld Li Family Estate," Tretter Letter, Jan. 2007, p. 1,3 (PDF). See the home page of The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota Elmer L. Andersen Library. Also see The Magnus Hirschfeld Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany and the Schwules Museum, Germany. Also see previous post Magnus Hirschfeld, Jack Baker, University of Minnesota and Oregon State University gay connection (1/21/12)

"The "Tretter Letter," Newsletter for Friends of the Tretter Collection," University of Minnesota Library Archives is published two times a year by The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota Elmer L. Andersen Library. The latest issue includes several interesting stories. (See "The Tretter Letter," Jan. 2017, p. 4-5 (PDF) about a new PBS documentary being made about Minesota's LGBT history, including Jack Baker's gay marriage, p. 5-6, 8, plus donation of retired Colonel, Pam Mindt Papers, p. 7, and a list of archive donors including Pam Mindt and Thomas Kraemer.

See my previous posts and other links of interest:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Oregon Obamacare final rates and Republican's Health Savings Accounts proposal is not insurance

In my previous post Obamacare rates in Oregon hurt many voters just in time for the Presidential election (10/8/16), I quoted a good letter to the editor by Kim Wilson, "Letter: The root problem with insurance," Gazette-Times, Oct. 11, 2016, p. A7 posted Oct. 8, 2016, which mentioned the proposed Obamacare rates and made the case that the demand for healthcare is inelastic, because everyone wants to live at all costs, and the supply of healthcare is limited, therefore basic economic theories predict the cost should go towards infinity.

Although I am covered by Medicare health insurance, a person close to me is still having to buy private health insurance until they reach 65 in a couple of years, therefore I was interested to talk to Kim Wilson, whose grandfathered health plan was cancelled when the health insurance company decided to leave the Oregon marketplace, and hear about her actual experience trying to buy Obamacare.

To make a long story short, Kim Wilson told me the final approved rates in Oregon for an Obamacare exchange plan is between $517 to $829 per month for a person who is the age of 60, lives in Benton County, Oregon, is not qualified for the charitable subsidy from taxpayers due to her income level, and who picks the cheapest Obamacare Bronze plans with the largest deductible and co-payments.

The original letter writer Kim Wilson sent me her follow-up letter about her decision of choosing to be uninsured next year based on the very high final approved $617 to $829 Obamacare premiums in Oregon and with an understanding of the law that a maximum penalty for not having insurance is much as 8 percent of a married couple's combined retirement income, even if only one of them is uninsured.

"Some readers didn't believe the proposed Obamacare health insurance premiums for 2017 mentioned in my Oct. 11 letter, "The root problem with insurance," until after I showed them my lowest approved rates of $517 to 829 per month that can be found on the official Oregon Division of Financial Regulation website using the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation "2017 Individual Health Plan Comparison Tool" accessed Dec. 19, 2017 that generates an Excel Spreadsheet listing all of the rates. (Tom's Note the old website went dead after the deadline passed for Obamacare registration in December. The Excel spreadsheet 2017-Oregon-Health-Pricing-Tool-v13.xlsm table generated by her with the tool is specific to to individual and small group Obamacare "Bronze" plans for persons who are age 60, live in Benton County, do not use Tobacco products, and do not yet qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or a charitable low-income subsidy program.)

The Oct. 25 Gazette-Times' front page story, "'Obamacare' premiums to jump in 2017," reported "an estimated 5 million to 7 million people" share health insurance problems similar to mine, including those with annual incomes little as $30,000.

Until I qualify for Medicare in four years, the total sum of my health insurance premiums, co-pays, and annual deductible payments of $7500 could cost me more than $60,000 before insurance would pay for anything significant.

Even though my spouse is covered by Medicare, and if only I lacked health insurance, my Obamacare penalty could be great as 8 percent of both our retirement incomes, according to the complex IRS tax forms due next year.

Consequently, during the November open enrollment period I'm seriously considering choosing to be uninsured, despite the risk of bankruptcy due to unexpected medical bills, because even after paying the Obamacare penalty I could save an estimated $310 per month to pay for my actual medical care. "

(Quoted from Kim Wilson, "INSERT HEADLINE," Gazette-Times, INSERT DATE, PAGE)

NOTE: The above letter originally mentioned the official State of Oregon Division of Financial Regulation site that provided information on health insurance rates for individual and small group plans under Obamacare, but it now appears to be dead after the deadline passed for Obamacare registration. I was recently able to access on December. Dec, 19, 2016 the official Oregon Division of Financial Regulation website and I linked to the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation "2017 Individual Health Plan Comparison Tool" accessed Dec. 19, 2017 that generated for me an Excel Spreadsheet 2017-Oregon-Health-Pricing-Tool-v13.xlsm table listing all of the rates specific to individual and small group Obamacare "Bronze" plans for persons who are age 60, live in Benton County, do not use Tobacco products, and do not yet qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or a charitable low-income subsidy program.

I am sure the letter writer Im Wilson has heard how the new President-elect Donald Trump promised during his campaign that he would "repeal and replace" Obamacare, but then Trump right after being elected and during Trump's "60 Minutes" TV interview reversed himself and said he would be keeping the ability to leave your older children on it and keep the feature of being able to sign up for it even if you have a pre-existing condition. I have no idea if Sen. Paul Ryan will still be creating a bill as he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, or Republicans will at least eliminate the penalty for not having insurance.

As usual for Donald Trump, this flip-flop sounded insane because why would you buy health insurance if you could wait until you got sick? Likewise, on the surface, allowing pre-existing conditions would make it more expensive for health insurance and Trump still did not give any reasons why his plan could be done cheaper, other than he muttered the usual let the marketplace work mantra of Republicans.

The only solution proposed by Trump's Republican sycophants has been to propose using Health Savings Accounts, which are already part of Obamacare and are commonly used by many employers. I don't see how this would be used by people who are in the individual market to save because it is not insurance to prevent being wiped out by an unexpected illness or injury.

For example, I struggle to understand what HSA's would do and why Republicans like them, until I listened to former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn talk about how he and Sen. Orin Hatch had written legislation to control costs. Of course, his political spin on it was that it would be better to give people on Medicaid (the charity-based Government health coverage) a fixed sum of money in a Health Savings Account where they could choose how to spend for their own healthcare, instead of having the government pay for it and decide what should be paid. On the surface, he made this sound noble, but listening to him carefully it became clear to me that it was a polite way to ration healthcare without really providing any insurance that would protect an employee from going broke in the event of an unexpected injury or illness.

When Sen. Coburn was asked how you avoided people signing up when they get sick, he replied that the Trump plans would require you to sign up and stay covered, or else be barred for life from signing up for it. Essentially, it is the Obamacare penalty on steroids. Yes, he is right that this is common in many insurance plans, but it would work only if the costs are truly reasonable and affordable. However, I still do not see how this can be achieved with HSA accounts unless they ration healthcare.

Similarly, it is clear to me that Republicans also want to eliminate the Original Medicare, the standard medical coverage for the old and disabled Americans, by forcing everyone into the existing privatized Medicare plans called "Medicare Advantage" plans that are being heavily advertised during the open enrollment period this fall. The idea that the "marketplace" will drive costs down just has not been proven true by these plans.

So, enough ranting for now until the other shoe has dropped and healthcare in America is destroyed by both Democrats and Republicans.

Some links of interest and other letters to the editor of interest:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

FAQ from WGSS faculty about OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund for research on humans or animals with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity

Berlin university students carrying away the library from the home of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld on May 6, 1933 for a May 10-11 Nazi book burning. New York Herald Tribune, May 17, 1933

PHOTO: Berlin university students carrying away the library from the home of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) on May 6, 1933 for a May 10-11 Nazi book burning (New York Herald Tribune, May 17, 1933). Some prominent Nazis were closeted gay men who exhibited a disgust reaction toward out-of-the-closet homosexuals, including Dr. Hirschfeld and his pioneering gay research institute for gender and sexuality. My Grandfather Dr. Elmer O. Kraemer (1898-1943) witnessed these book burnings when he was a visiting Professor of Chemistry at Berlin University. A question I am frequently asked is about my reasons for naming my research fund after Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, whose research work early on was widely dismissed by gay American Stonewall era scholars, perhaps because their opinions were still prejudiced by fresh memories of the World War II atrocities by Nazis against both gays and Jews, or also perhaps due to the lack of any scholarly German to English translations of Hirschfeld's work until decades later. The early translations were correctly criticized and unfortunately diminished the importance of his reearch work. Whatever the real reason for Hirschfeld's work being ignored by American scholars, it shows the importance of not being blind to research done internationally, just because it is hard to access. Given this tragic history, I named the fund in the honor of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld as a way to encourage research with an international scope at OSU, which in my experience will lead to greater insights and discoveries than is possible in isolation. (See previous post OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement (1/4/12))

The Oregon State University school newspaper recently printed several interesting stories and letters, just after the 2016 election of Donald Trump as the U.S. President, which touched on some contemporary concerns of college students.

The first item is by Ercoli Crugnale, "A step toward support," Barometer, November 21, 2016, p. 4-5 that quotes Oregon State University President Ed Ray saying, "Oregon State will continue their history of supporting diversity of all kinds on campus, such as in 2001 when the university built the former 'Queer Resource Center'" (now renamed the OSU Pride Center). The story talks about "OSU's plans to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer" and describes the process of hiring. I applaud OSU's plans to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer, whose written objectives sound similar to the ones I help write in the 1980's for Hewlett-Packard when I led some of HP's research programs located on the Stanford University campus.

Both of HP's company founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard believed strongly in diversity as being something that could give HP the best talent in the world, instead of blindly excluding the best research engineers just because they were different. Even though Dave was a truly conservative Republican, he rejected the xenophobia of many Republicans as being bad for his internationally renowned business. For example, HP was one of the first U.S. businesses to reenter China, where I was able to hire two of the best Chinese engineers who had obtained their Ph.D. degrees from the University California at Berkley.

At one time, most companies would begrudgingly adopt a diversity program only when compelled to by a court order that included hiring quotas, but Dave Packard insisted on doing it without a court order. In fact, Dave Packard succeeded in having diversity at the most senior levels in the company, and he achieved it without compromising any of his standards of hiring only the most qualified individuals. Packard refused to blindly meet his diversity objectives by lowering his hiring standards. Similar to HP, I expect OSU will also be able to achieve diversity without having to lower its own standards.

Nurturing diversity at OSU will take some fortitude at every level because many pundits are blaming the recent loses of Democrats to having put all of their eggs into the diversity basket. (See an excellent analysis, of these criticisms concerning Democrats, by the gay blogger, Jim Burroway, "A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats," posted Nov. 21, 2016)

Another interesting item printed in the OSU student newspaper is by the OSU Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies faculty and staff, "Open letter of solidarity from the WGSS faculty and staff: Letters to the Editor," Barometer Nov. 21, 2016, p. 15.

This letter and other communications I have received over the last decade from members of the OSU community, including students and alumni, have prompted me to answer below some of the frequently asked questions about the OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement for research concerning humans or animals with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity. (See previous post OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement (1/4/12))

First, let me make a quick summary of what I say in more detail below. The legal agreement with the OSU Foundation has been intentionally written to take advantage of OSU's strengths in animal sciences, social sciences, as well as other sciences and engineering disciplines, by encouraging multidisciplinary research work of an international scope between researcher in different schools, departments, or academic driplines. The Fund has been setup flexible enough to adapt over time when research needs have changed, likely due to learning or new discoveries. This flexibility is important because the Fund is legally setup as an endowment that must be managed to run in perpetuity.

For example, I fully expect a hundred years from now that the definitions of LGBT+ and many of the most pertinent research questions might be unimaginable today. However, despite this prediction, I am confident that the OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund will have no problem identifying and funding relevant research topics that are obvious descendants of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld's pioneering research work done back in the 1930's.

Also, my reasons, for expecting LGBT+ research will evolve over the next century, are based on the historical experiences of gay researchers who in the past have divided up into two usually isolated camps. The first camp being those who see LGBT as something that is defined by society (i.e social constructionists) versus the other camp that only sees the medical or scientific origins of the behaviors (i.e. biological essentialists). Yet, both points of view have been critical to obtaining advances in knowledge.

The history of research has shown how insights and breakthroughs can occur when researchers from one of the camps works to reconcile their research findings with both of the theoretical models held by the two isolated camps, such as the theoretical models held by biological essentialists vs. social constructionists. For example, the findings of functional MRI scans of homophobic brains in action can be correlated with the similar findings of social scientists, and if they don't correlate, then it must be asked, why not?

At one time, homophobes would justify discrimination against gay people by saying with impunity that there were no homosexuals in nature, but OSU animal scientists and others have published papers documenting homosexual behavior in animals. Of course, skeptics say humans are not animals and humans have more intelligence to control their own sexual behavior, which is true, but a good social science researcher should still be asking how humans' sexual behavior is different from animals and why. After all, the statistical distribution of animals' sexual behavior, including bisexual behaviors, is remarkably similar to humans, but all researchers need to ask how are the animalistic behaviors, essential for reproduction, different from humans' more complex social and sexual behaviors, and then reconcile their theoretical models.

In my experience with research at both OSU and Stanford University, research programs must often be protected from being eaten up by the political immune system of the University and this protection is often provided by the leaders of a single academic department or school that is the home of the project. Consequently, it would not surprise me if the OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund ended up being led by the OSU Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department (WGSS), and provided the most initial benefit to researchers in this department, however, the Fund agreement with the OSU Foundation does not specify any department because it was intentionally written so that research and the management of it could occur in any academic discipline at OSU, and also encourage multidisciplinary research, by providing the flexibility required to adapt as things change over time due to new learning and discovery.

As some OSU community members have heard directly from me, the OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund is designed to encourage more interdisciplinary research at OSU, in all academic fields, by paying for both the time of the faculty and their graduate student research assistants, as well as other legitimate research expenses, such as the costs to do field research or the costs of travel for the faculty and their selected students to attend academic conferences related to their professor's area of research.

For example, I first saw the need at OSU for more research funding in the 1970's when I was a 0.5 FTE Research Assistant, paid to work half of a full time equivalent employee on a research project, while working on my graduate degree and Masters thesis, under the supervision of a professor who ran one of the rare research programs at OSU with any significant funding at the time. I benefited greatly from traveling with my thesis advisor, along with other graduate students, to relevant academic conferences in Seattle, and also to the Naval Torpedo station in Keyport, Washington where our research benefactors were located. As a result, I was fortunate to land a good job in industry, espite the fact I was unable to share our research work because it had been classified as being top secret by the U.S. Navy. (The OSU library holds the redacted copy of my Master thesis.)

After graduating and working in industry, I personally benefited from being picked to lead research at Stanford University funded by HP and other organizations, and this allowed me to start working on my Ph.D. degree at Stanford, without having to incur any debt, which unfortunately too many students are forced to do today.

During my decades of research experience, I witnessed the major benefits to society that resulted from academic research and also learned how it was never wise to succumb to the temptation of cutting the research budget during lean times. Hewlett-Packard's founders Bill and Dave put everyone working on a nine-day fortnight to cut labor expenses for a short time, as a way of avoiding cutting any research programs.

As mentioned above, OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund is also designed to encourage research of an international scope.

For example, research work by Dr. George Weinberg, who coined, defined and popularized the concept of homophobia internationally, provided some psychological explanations for the homophobic behavior exhibited by Nazi's against Dr. Hirschfeld's research work (See above).

title and contents page of George Weinberg's 1972 book on homophobia and 1999 picture of left to right Dick Leitsch, John Paul Hudson, Jack Nichols, Dr. George Weinberg and Randolfe Wicker

PHOTO: Dr. George Weinberg's famous book that coined and popularized the concept of homophobia, provides some good examples of the bad behaviors associated with closeted homosexuals, such as the Nazis' disgust reaction to Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld's research work (see above). The OSU library bought a copy of this book when it was first published, and it provided me with my first glimpse of the importance of gay academic research. In the photo above is the title page and contents page of George Weinberg's 1972 book on homophobia next to an amateur photo taken in 1999 of Stonewall era gay activists (left to right) Dick Leitsch, John Paul Hudson, Jack Nichols, Dr. George Weinberg and Randolfe Wicker, who were celebrating the 30th anniversary of Stonewall revolt in 1969 New York City. (Photo courtesy of Jack Nichols and Randy Wicker and it was given to me in 1999) The OSU library owns a first edition copy of this groundbreaking book by George Weinberg, "Society and the healthy homosexual," St. Martin's Press, 1972. (See previous posts George Weinberg homophobia book 1972 (12/16/08) and Ex-gays more easily disgusted than gays? (12/16/09))

I was honored to talk on the phone with the New York gay scholar Dr. George Weinberg. He is the first person I heard make the astute conjecture that the homophobic disgust reaction of gay Nazi officers is a tragic example of a common response to internalized homophobia exhibited by many men.

Discussions with both George Weinberg and Johnathan Ned Katz, who is famous for writing one of the first gay history books back when most academics rejected the possibility that this subject would ever be important, is what motivated me to spend nearly three years full-time in the OSU Library Archives doing the research required to write the history of Corvallis, Oregon State University. (See previous post OSU gay history at site (1/16/12) and the copy of Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1964-2002," printed to PDF from in 2010 permanently stored by the OSU Scholars Archives@OSU)

Although when I was a college student, I never fully appreciated the importance of history, and I arrogantly dismissed history as being something only "old people" read to recall their good old days, today I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reactions I have received from OSU students to my gay OSU history. I am also blessed to have had my OSU history peer-reviewed by internationally famous Stonewall-era gay activists, as well as to receive comments from OSU graduates from nearly every decade back to World War II, plus I was able to follow up and confirm in documents stored in the OSU Archives records that the famous homophile activists W. Dorr Legg was at OSU until 1943. (See previous post OSU professor recognized equality hypocrisy decades ago (6/5/12))

I was also able to discover the fact that an OSU football player nearly a century ago was perceived by his fellow students as being gay, after learning about his arrest for sodomy in Portland, Oregon from the research by George Painter. (See previous post Book: 1912 Portland 'Vice Clique' gay sex scandal, OSU football player, and possible Women's Suffragists linkage (3/22/14))

George Hastings (top row, left) and the 1910 Oregon Agricultural College (former name of Oregon State University) football team as pictured in 'The 1912 Orange' yearbook, p. 159.

PHOTO: (above) Student George Hastings (top row, left) and the 1910 football team at Oregon Agricultural College (former name of Oregon State University) as pictured in "The 1912 Orange" yearbook, p. 159. *See previous posts Book: 1912 Portland 'Vice Clique' gay sex scandal, OSU football player, and possible Women's Suffragists linkage (3/12/14), OSU gay football player 1908 (6/19/08) and Oregonian on 1912 gay panic arrests (4/25/10)(

Esera Tuaolo on cover of The Advocate, Nov. 26, 2002, cover headline reads 'Gay in the NFL, A football star for nine years, former Vikings lineman Esera Tuaolo reveals the truth about homophobia in the locker room and the dangers of the pro sports closet. PLUS: His boyfriend tells his side of their romance' PHOTO: former Oregon State University football player Esera Tuaolo came out on the cover of The Advocate. ("Tackling football's closet," By Bruce C. Steele, The Advocate, Nov. 26, 2002, cover story, pp. 3, 30-39). See previous posts Book: 1912 Portland 'Vice Clique' gay sex scandal, OSU football player, and possible Women's Suffragists linkage (3/12/14), OSU Esera Tuaolo gay football star (8/12/06) and OSU alum on CBS 'Face the Nation,' Jason Collins comes out, and Boy Scouts in local paper (5/7/13).

Finally, I've had quite a few questions about what type of cross-disciplinary research work can be done in a subject that has historically been dominated by research in theology, social science, psychology and medicine. OSU research has commendably branched out to publish research in animal science on the genetics of what are commonly called gay sheep and fruit flies. (See previous posts OSU gay fruit fly sex research (9/16/06) and OSU gay sheep vs PETA (9/2/06))

The Magnus Hirschfeld Fund wants to encourage research in even a broader set of academic disciplines, for example, in a recent discussion with a leading OSU computer scientist, he was unable to initially see any possibility of cross-disciplinary gay research with a computer scientist, but after some discussion he quickly came up with a hypothetical research topic that spanned between a social scientist, a genetics researcher, and a computer science researcher in the now hot research field of "big data." Of course, such a connection between researchers can't be forced, but it must occur naturally based on the specific talents and expertise of each researcher. In my research experience at Stanford and HP, I found that most researchers will only rarely discuss topics they don't understand with each other, and as a result will miss out on the biggest research breakthroughs and insights.

My greatest disappointment in life was not being unable to finish my Ph.D. degree because I chose to take an offer to move from Stanford, California to manage an HP Colorado Springs research lab that was only nearby a small branch of the University of Colorado. Therefore, at the risk of sounding like I am begging, and even though I do not expect anything in return from OSU for my contribution to writing and submitting my OSU gay history to the OSU Archives, the only thing I would want from OSU today is an honorary Ph.D. -- and not just because both my father and grandfather had a Ph.D. degree! No matter what, I have been very satisfied by knowing that future generations of OSU students will be able to learn from my history in the OSU Archives. (See previous post OSU gay history at site (1/16/12) and note a copy of Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1964-2002," printed to PDF from in 2010 is permanently stored by the OSU Scholars Archives@OSU)

The letter by OSU WGSS faculty and staff, "Open letter of solidarity from the WGSS faculty and staff: Letters to the Editor," Barometer Nov. 21, 2016, p. 15 included some of the following signatures:

UPDATE Nov. 30, 2016 - a former OSU student In response to the WGSS staff letter above wrote the following letter to the editor ithat was published by the student newspaper: Bart Degeneffe, Corvallis Resident and Trump Supporter, "Response to WGSS Faculty's letter on Nov. 21," Barometer, Mon. Nov. 28, 2016, p. 15, which said in part, "I wish to express my disappointment with the faculty of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Department At a time when the country should be coming together for healing and unity, you have instead chosen to continue to beat the drum of fear and division by parroting the usual tired and discredited accusations against our new president and his supporters. Such inappropriate comments only legitimize the further marginalization of conservative leaning members of the OSU community who have been demonized, had their views called hate speech and have even received death threats. The fearmongering and ideological grandstanding must stop. . . ."

I grimaced reading this letter because conservatives should be celebrating the victory of President-elect Donald Trump, but instead his letter paradoxically and angrily criticizes the Nov. 21 letter by the faculty of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His letter parrots the popular right-wing propaganda that "conservative leaning members of the OSU community" are victims of the moral values that Democrats and "liberals" promote publicly in the ivory towers of Oregon State University. This is a quintessential and tragic example of how many conservative Republicans are playing the "victim card" like they accuse liberals of doing, despite the fact that they have won and are clearly in control.

Hey, wake up, President Ronald Reagan's Republicans are clearly in charge today, and all Republicans need to start acting like winners, instead of pretending to be a true victim like the closeted gay student at OSU in 1969 who was beat up by other students who were not punished because anybody "out" as being gay was "just asking for trouble."

The WGSS faculty represents the improvements and discoveries made by civilized OSU Beavers over the 20th Century.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

University of Oregon law professor's blackface costume provokes free speech discussion

University of Oregon law school professor's blackface Halloween costume

PHOTO: A University of Oregon law school professor's blackface Halloween costume led many of her colleagues to call for her her resignation. See newspaper articles by Diane Dietz, "University Of Oregon: UO president denounces law professor who donned blackface for Halloween party," The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, posted Nov. 3, 2016 , Diane Dietz, "University Of Oregon: UO Law faculty members seek professor's resignation in the wake of her blackface Halloween costume," The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, posted Nov. 4, 2016 and Diane Dietz, The Register-Guard, "Black Students urge changes at University of Oregon," Corvallis Gazette-Times, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, p. A9, originally printed as "Black students press for UO strides on race," The Register-Guard, Nov. 12, 2016.

A Eugene, Oregon alternative weekly newspaper published a letter by Vince Loving, "Letters to the Editor 2016-11-10: Forced to Resign," Eugene Weekly, Nov. 10, 2016, p. 4, who said, "A UO professor may be fired or, as they say in polite company, forced to resign for wearing blackface at a Halloween party. . . The professor was not mocking Afro-Americans but trying to make a point. The theme was based on the book Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflection on Race and Medicine about racism in medical school. . ."

An editorial published in the same alternative weekly newspaper edition criticized the rush to judgement against the professor:

"Was a valuable teachable moment eclipsed by political correctness at the University of Oregon? A UO law faculty member blackened her face - something she absolutely should not have done - in an attempt to make a point about race. Nancy Shurtz, a highly respected UO law prof for more than 30 years, invited faculty and students to her home for a Halloween party. Her costume was a white coat and blackface depicting Dr. Damon Tweedy, who wrote Black Man in a White Coat, a best-selling book about racial hurdles for a medical professional. Shurtz has publicly apologized for her mistake in using blackface. The law dean has suspended her from teaching, 23 law faculty members have asked her to resign and UO President Michael Schill is highly critical in his public statements. Wait. What about due process and facts and the UO's own policies on free speech and academic freedom, the First Amendment? The faculty union, of which the law school is not a member, has written that Shurtz is entitled to a fair hearing, a position that we assume is held by law school faculty other than the 23? Academic politics is also a big player here, but that's another slant." (Quoted from EW Staff, "Slant," Eugene Weekly, Nov. 10, 2016, p. 8)

The "Eugene Weekly" has a long reputation for having a liberal readership, especially being in the same town as the University of Oregon, which includes the main law school in Oregon. Therefore, I will be interested to see the response to my letter they published in response to this incident:

While I share the disgust reaction to a University of Oregon Professor wearing a blackface costume, I find the calls for her resignation to be hypocritical, especially coming from attorneys trained to defend the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I have experienced a similar disgust reaction to misogynistic and homophobic portrayals of women and gay people as being dumb or limp-wristed queens, and have felt the urge to call for its censorship.

However, my Grandfather taught me that censorship based on disgust can be dangerous, as he witnessed in 1933 at Berlin University where Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld's research books on homosexuals were literally burned by Nazis disgusted by it.

I am old enough to have watched "Amos 'n' Andy" on network television -- a show that was later censored for its virtual blackface racism.

Both blackface and drag queen camp performances are part of the rich history of the theater arts that should not be censored, but preserved in a proper context as lessons for future generations.

Free speech that disgusts or offends anyone, which is not libel or slander, should be countered only with more free speech instead of with punishment or censorship.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Hypocritical Reaction," Eugene Weekly "Letters to the Editor 2016-11-17" posted Nov. 17, 2016)

Due to the space constraints of a letter to the editor, I was unable to expand on why I listed only the exceptions of "libel or slander," and not obscenity, to speech that could legitimately be punished because such speech can actually harm others. Many U.S. Supreme Court decisions on free speech have carved out several exceptions to the First Amendment rights in these areas and I generally agree with their decisions, except for the decisions that have allowed the censorship of some speech concerning homosexuals as being obscene. (See previous post OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement (1/4/12) for a photo of the Nazi book burning mentioned in my letter.)

Another letter on this subject published in my local professional daily newspaper was by P.M. deLaubenfels, "Letter: A casualty of political correctness," posted Nov 8, 2016 -- his mocking tone might be misinterpreted by some people as being either for or against free speech.

An overview history of blackface and TV shows can be found in the following articles:

  • ""Blackface" accessed Nov. 9, 2016, says, "Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used by non-black performers to represent a black person. The practice gained popularity during the 19th century and contributed to the spread of racial stereotypes such as the "happy-go-lucky darky on the plantation" or the 'dandified coon.'"
  • "Amos 'n' Andy," accessed Nov. 9, 2016 says, "A television adaptation ran on CBS (1951-53) and continued in syndicated reruns (1954-66). It would not be shown to a nationwide audience again until 2012."

The Corvallis, Oregon (home to Oregon State University 40 miles north of Eugene) professional newspaper editorial by Mike McNally also supported the professor's freedom of speech:

"Shurtz remains on administrative leave. She has not resigned, and she should not. The university should not fire her, in part because such a decision would preclude an option that actually could prove to be useful to everyone concerned, and to the larger university community as well. Handled properly, this incident could help spark a discussion about how to have meaningful conversations about race and speech in America today. But that won't happen if the university shows Shurtz the door, washing away all those possible lessons in a wave of bitter recriminations and vicious finger-pointing." (Quoted from Staff, "Editorial: Lessons from UO's blackface incident," posted Nov. 16, 2016)

On a loosely related note also concerning freedom of speech, after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America, I was heartened to see students at the predominately conservative Oregon State University exercising their Constitutional First Amendment rights of peaceful assembly to protest against the election of Donald Trump -- something I haven't seen at OSU since the Vietnam War era. It has given me hope about the future of America, despite the mean-spirited rhetoric of Donald Trump that I find disgusting. (See OSU student newspaper article by Valerie Maule, "Over 400 students attended peace rally on OSU campus," Barometer, Nov. 10, 2016 and the WR121 writing class essay by "Raising their voices, Brian Rathbone, Speaking out, Richard Steeves, Free speech, . . ." OSU Barometer, Nov. 14, 2016, p. 1, 3, 8-14, 16 that was part of several essays printed as an "academic supplement" inside the student paper. (Note: The faculty member driving WR121 convinced the student paper to use the term "academic supplement" instead of "paid advertisement" as they used before. (See previous post OSU 'I am gay' writing class essay printed as paid advertisement in student newspaper (11/24/15))

Thursday, November 3, 2016

OSU gay frat Δ Λ Φ organized by student Cory Zimmerman

OSU Delta Lambda Phi Barometer front page story Oct. 31, 2016

PHOTO: The front page (center bottom) and center spread of Oregon State University's student newspaper featured some of the new members of the recently colonized IFC gay fraternity Δ Λ Φ (aka Delta Lambda Phi) that "focuses on creating a space for men of all sexual orientations and gender expressions to have the traditional Greek experience on campus." (See online version of the weekly print edition of story by Anna Weeks Greek Peek Blog Manager, "Fostering inclusivity - Delta Lambda Phi colonizes at OSU, IFC Fraternity to focus on creating an inclusive environment within the Greek system, support LGBTQ+ community," OSU Barometer weekly print edition, Oct. 31, 2016, p. 1, 8-9)

The new OSU gay frat Δ Λ Φ is being spearheaded by the OSU student Cory Zimmerman (listed as an Interior Design major in the student accessed Nov. 21, 2015) who last year wrote an essay on being gay. (See previous post OSU 'I am gay' writing class essay printed as paid advertisement in student newspaper (11/24/15) that includes my analysis of his essay.)

Some selected quotes from the above student newspaper article:

"Founded by gay men for all men," part of DLP's mission statement, summarizes the fraternity's goal to create a place within the fraternal system that enhances the quality of life among men irrespective of sexual orientation or gender expression.

On Oct. 22, Delta Lambda Phi was installed as an Interfraternity Council colony and invited 10 pledges into the nationally recognized brotherhood.

Delta Lambda Phi was founded in 1986 in Washington D.C.

Those that helped bring DLP to campus hope the chapter will provide a welcoming community for men who identify as gay, bisexual or transgender-as well as those who do not---and allow anyone who wants it to get a true fraternity experience.

Cory Zimmerman, the current DLP president and one of the individuals who worked to bring the fraternity to the OSU campus, had debated whether or not to participate in traditional recruitment while attending OSU.

(Quoted from Anna Weeks Greek Peek Blog Manager, "Fostering inclusivity. Delta Lambda Phi colonizes at OSU, IFC Fraternity to focus on creating an inclusive enironment within the Greek system, support LGBTQ+ community," OSU Barometer print edition, Oct. 31, 2016, p. 1, 8-9)

The publication of this story nicely complements the OSU Queer History Month story by Madilyn Sturges, "October is Queer History Month," Oregon State University Barometer, posted Oct. 13, 2016.

See previous posts OSU 'Greek Pads' features fraternity house Phi Delta Theta (1/1/12), Gay frat boy's election shows progress toward equality at OSU (5/2/12) and OSU 'Greek Pads' features fraternity house Phi Delta Theta (1/1/12).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Corvallis 'Big Wood' services are misinterpreted by perverted minds

Coupon for Corvallis 'Big Wood' services received in mail Sep. 2016

PHOTO: A coupon for "All tree & Stump Services" by "Big Wood Tree Expert Company of Corvallis, Oregon" was apparently sent to households in the Benton County area, which I received in the U.S. mail on Sept. 19, 2016. The company's About Us page says, "Justin Gammon has been serving Lincoln County, Linn County, Benton County, and Lane County in tree removal service since 1998." I've never used this service and I don't know it they are good or not, so this blog post is not an advertisement for them!

Perhaps it is because I was perverted by living in San Francisco for a few years, but my first reaction to the above advertisement was that any business named "Big Wood" must only be a downtown gay bar in San Francisco that caters to the gay male lumberjack types who wear Paul Bunyan's mythical plaid shirts and have never been in an actual forest. (Note: the term lumberjack is NOT used in Oregon like it is in Minnesota, because there are NO lumberjacks in Oregon -- instead men who cut timber in Oregon always call themselves loggers and they will derisively label anyone who calls them a lumberjack as being from "back East.")

Of course, I have no excuse for such perverted thinking because I literally live next door to the Oregon State University School of Forestry's research forest, where tree removal is a serious academic field of study, and so I appreciate the irony of a local tree removal business using the name "Big Wood Services."

A recent local newspaper story concerning "Big Wood" skillfully combined these memes together:

"Preparations are under way for moving the historic Peavy House . . .

The 101-year-old Peavy House, located at Northwest 25th Street and Northwest Jackson Avenue, is scheduled for a move across Northwest Monroe Avenue and through a campus parking lot at 6 a.m. Sunday morning. Its new site will be an open lot at Northwest 30th Street and Northwest Johnson Avenue. . .

The original owner was George Wilcox Peavy. He headed the forestry department in 1910 and in 1934 was named president of what was then Oregon State College. He also was elected the mayor of Corvallis in 1947. Peavy lived for many years in the house with his wife and children; he died in Corvallis on June 24, 1951. . .

Big Wood Tree Expert Company began trimming branches on Tuesday and continued to trim them on Orchard Avenue Wednesday. Tree branches lower than 32 feet high were trimmed back to make room for the 2,900-square-foot house, which is 32 feet high and 35 feet wide.

"We're trimming the sides of trees," said Paul Christensen, the head climber for the tree company. That is not like topping them, which would affect the trees' long-term viability."

(Quoted from Joce DeWitt, "History on the move," posted Jun. 19, 2012)

For more, see the article about "George Wilcox Peavy (1932-1940)," Special Collections & Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries, accessed Oct. 31, 2016, who was the OSU Dean of Forestry, and was appointed acting president of Oregon State College in 1932. Despite George Peavy having the same name of a common logging tool, he is not the inventor of it. (See "Peavey (tool)," accessed Oct. 31, 2016, which says, "The peavey was named for blacksmith Joseph Peavey of Upper Stillwater, Maine, who invented the tool as a refinement to the cant hook (also known as a "cant dog") in the 1850s. Many lumberjacks use the terms interchangeably. . . The Peavey Manufacturing Co. is still located in Eddington, Maine." (Notice the use of "lumberjack" in the Wikipedia article. It must have been written by somebody back East! Any Forestry Major at OSU would have correctly said "logger" instead of "lumberjack.")

Monday, October 24, 2016

Newspaper lists same-sex spouse for Corvallis City Councilman Roen Hogg up for reelection

Corvallis City Councilman Roen Hogg lists spouse Doug Eaton Gazette-Times, Oct. 21, 2016, p. A2 PHOTO: (click on photo to enlarge) the same-sex "spouse Doug Eaton" of Roen Hogg, "Ward 2 City Councilor," City of Corvallis accessed Oct. 24, 2016, is listed in the newspaper election coverage article by James Day, "Ward 2 incumbent faces challenger," Corvallis Gazette-Times, Oct. 21, 2016, p. A2 posted online as "Incumbent Hogg, newcomer Maughan seek Ward 2 seat", which includes downtown Corvallis.

MAP: 344 SW 7th St Corvallis, OR 97333 (From Google Maps) shows the location of the "Charles and Ibby Whiteside House," accessed Oct. 24, 2016. The house is owned by Doug Eaton 344 SW 7th Street Corvallis Oregon 541-753-2946 accessed Oct. 24, 2016 and is a historic house in Corvallis, Oregon that was built from plan books in 1922 during a period of rapid growth in Corvallis. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

I was heartened that the above newspaper's listing of a City Councilman's same-sex marriage has drawn no negative reactions. I consider this lack of reaction remarkable because it was only a little over a decade ago that the majority of Oregon citizens voted for an Oregon Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriages. Likewise, some readers of the Corvallis Gazette-Times newspaper in the 1970's were writing letters to the editor threating to cancel their newspaper subscriptions over a story that ran in 1976 about gay people in Corvallis, which was a story they considered as unacceptable to be printed in a "family newspaper."

It has been remarkable to witness these changes in cultural attitudes over the last 50 years, especially in the well-educated educated College town of Corvallis, Oregon, which has been historically dominated by Oregon State University, which has historically been considered more liberal than the rest of Oregon, but never as liberal as the University of Oregon in Eugene, 40 miles south of Corvallis.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

How Hewlett-Packard layoffs were avoided by founders Bill and Dave

GT headline, 'HP cuts jobs at Corvallis Campus,' Oct. 14, 2016, p. A1

PHOTO: The Corvallis, Oregon morning newspaper headlines announced the latest layoffs by Hewlett-Packard as being the result of a structural decline in business and the last year split off of the computer printer and PC business from the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise that runs a computing services business. Both of these parts of HP had been previously split off from the medical, analytical and electronic instrument test and measurement businesses that were later split into Agilent Technologies and Keysite Technologies, which included the electronic test and instrument businesses run by HP since it was founded in 1939. (See newspaper story by Kyle Odegard, "HP cuts jobs at Corvallis Campus. Up to 4,000 workers are to be laid off across the company," Gazette-Times, Fri. Oct. 14, 2016, p. A1, A3 posted online as "HP announces job cuts" that follows up on the previous story by Nathan Bruttell, "HP to jettison up to 30,000 jobs as part of spinoff," posted Sep. 15, 2015)

Aerical view of Hewlett-Packard Corvallis Campus circa 2010

PHOTO: An aerial view of Hewlett-Packard's Corvallis, Oregon campus circa 2010, which is located near Oregon State University and next to the Willamette River. The first building was built in 1975 at the center of the site and named "Building Number 4." It addressed the business needs of the rapidly expanding handheld scientific calculator division whose first product was the famous HP-35 handheld calculator first introduced in 1972. At the Corvallis site, HP invented some of the first personal desktop and portable computers, which led to the construction of HP buildings numbers 3 and 5 being built adjacent to Building 4. HP also built the world's first handheld computer smart phone in 1982 based on Bell Labs then new cell phone technology, but the project was cancelled by HP management and Steve Jobs of Apple picked it up after being shown it. Over the next twenty years, the big growth of the site occurred after the invention of the inkjet printer for both calculators and personal computers that led to more buildings being built to house the nearly 10,000 employees who were working on the HP Corvallis site by the 1990's.

headline 'H-P executive predicts 700 new jobs' Gazette-Times Aug. 8, 1974, p. 2

PHOTO: Hewlett-Packard's plans in the 1970 to build a calculator plant and research facility in Corvallis is reported in a newspaper article by John Atkins, "H-P executive predicts 700 new jobs," Gazette-Times Aug. 8, 1974, p. 2. (See previous posts HP and Corvallis newspaper history (3/11/09) about the move of the Hewlett-Packard calculator division from Palo Alto, California to Corvallis, Oregon in 1975 and Don't Cali-fornicate Oregon and HP annexation history (6/14/12).

I've written recently about the history and influence of company founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. (See previous posts HP breakup making Bill and Dave spin in their graves (9/11/15) and HP 3-D printers praised by Jim Cramer CNBC Wall Street reporter (7/24/15))

What I've not said much about is how the Hewlett-Packard company founders William Hewlett and David Packard avoided laying off employees from the start of the company's founding in 1939 until their deaths around the turn of the 21st Century. They were both humble men who had survived the Great Depression in the 1930's and therefore did everything in their power to manage HP in a very conservative manner that would not require HP to be a hire and fire operation in order to remain profitable and in business if another Depression occurred. They also did not want to follow the stuffy and formal business practices common in Back East companies at the time, for example, both men insisted on employees dressing casually and calling them by their first names Bill and Dave instead of by the more formal conventions of addressing them as "Mister," while dressed in a business suit.

To avoid layoffs, Bill and Dave adopted a very conservative business strategy that was paradoxically based on innovation and invention, which historically had led many businesses to high risk, boom and bust ventures. To avoid layoffs, in addition to their excellent judgement in deciding what products to invest in versus not, they believed in having a diversified portfolio of businesses and products that were each managed by a dedicated team that could fail or succeed without bankrupting the company. This strategy allowed for the risk taking that often led to spectacular successes, while at the same allowing Bill and Dave to easily judge the financial results within thier larger business.

The advantage of Bill and Dave's decentralized division management business model was it allowed the company to grow by promoting the best people within the company without requiring Bill and Dave to micromanage every business for overall HP success. This business model worked great in the types of businesses HP was initially involved in, such as electronic test and measurement instruments and handheld scientific calculators, but it proved to have a problem in businesses that required a system of products from multiple divisions and other companies, such as computer systems, which need mutally exclusive business models to be competitive u the real world.

By the 1980's Bill and Dave had recognized the system management issue and reorganized their managers in a matrix with responsibilities to both their "box product business" as well as to the success of HP's system businesses. Of course, this was easier said than done because it required managers to fly all over the world to coordinate their activity with other businesses as well as HP's customers.

Despite the difficulty of managing the rapid growth and diverse businesses of HP, Bill and Dave kept the HP growing growing until they died. But after they died, Wall Street investment bankers started to impose their view of how companies should be organized and divided it up into smaller pieces that were easier to manage and easier for Wall Street to understand and judge the success or failure of the business finacially.

Of course, Wall Street investment bankers make good money by splitting up companies, but they did have a good point about the drastically different business models that were required to make HP successful and the fact that these business models were often in conflict to the detriment of all. For example, the traditional electronic instrument business could grow at ten or twenty percent per year while investing about ten percent of revenues in R & D to continuously upgrade and invent new products for their customers. In contrast, other businesses could be profitable only with a larger investment in R & D, such as software businesses that often need to spend more than 20 percent of revenues for R & D in order to remain competitive.

Another example was the business versus consumer businesses, such as HP printers, where a home user doesn't have the same expectations of reliability and speed that a business might have and be willing to pay for. Consumer printing products, such as inkjet printers successfully profit from a business model that is called by business schools a "razor vs. razor blade" strategy of virtually giving away the razor or printer product in order to gain market share, with the expectation that your profits will come from the annuity payment comprised of repeat sales for supplies, such razor blades or inkjet pens and paper supplies.

Of course, the problem created by needing to use multiple business strategies is figuring out how it can be explained to public investors, including inpatient Wall Street stock portfolio managers who can't figure out how to value your business in the public stock market.

Of course, as long as the company founders Bill and Dave were the major stockholders, it didn't matter because they understood it and as long as they grew revenue and profits, Wall Street didn't care about the details. However, shortly after their deaths, HP was pressured into a four way split of their business, along with a few acquisitions and mergers driven by Wall Street investment bankers. (HP first split into HP and Agilent Technologies, then HP split into HP Inc. and HP Enterprise plus Agilent split off Keysite Technologies, which was the original test and measurement box business of HP. Sadly, while HP is still a big company, this has led to it becoming a hire and fire operation like most companies in America.

See previous posts:

Saturday, October 8, 2016

OSU students' daily newspaper goes weekly for print edition and is inserted in local professional newspaper

Oregon State University's student newspaper "The Daily Barometer" is now being printed weekly only during the main school year, but it is now also being inserted in the local professional newspaper every week. (See About page "Barometer," accessed Sep. 6, 2016 that said, "Attention: The Barometer is no longer printed in the Summer and will only be published on Mondays starting Fall Term 2016. Please check out our online presence for daily news and updates." Also see the editorial by Riley Youngman Editor-in-Chief, "A new year, a new Baro," Barometer, Mon. Sep. 26, 2016, p. 2 and an announcement by the local profession newspaper the Gazete-Times: Mid-Valley Media, "A new partnership," posted Sep. 29, 2016. This change in publication of the print edition was hinted at in editorials at the end of by last by student editors who wanted readers to know they would be returning after summer break 2016, which was the first summer for decades that a weekly printed edition was not printed during the Summer Term.

This change of the OSU student newspaper, from daily to weekly print editions, prompted me to write the following letter to the editor of my local professional newspaper:

Those of us with nostalgia for old-fashioned newspapers printed with ink on newsprint were sad to read that the Oregon State University's daily student newspaper is now printed only every Monday during the fall to spring terms, but are happy to have the new printed version, called "The Baro," inserted into the Gazette-Times every Tuesday, albeit with a 4.5-inch shorter page height.

Forty years ago my mother, who refused to touch any computer, warned me that I might get what I wished for when I started evangelizing for the paperless publication computer technology that was being invented by people in both Silicon Valley and Corvallis.

Approximately two decades ago both the G-T and the OSU Barometer were some of the first publications on the World Wide Web, which leads to the question: When will the G-T start following the weekly print schedule adopted by OSU students?

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer,"Letter: Happy to see 'The Baro' in the G-T," Gazette-Times, Tue. Oct. 11, 2016, p. A7, posted Oct. 8, 2016)

The editor of my local newspaper, Mike McInally, told me in a personal communication that he had, "No plans yet to go weekly, but it would be interesting to try to figure out a way to do that correctly." He said the Portland Oregonian newspaper has tried, with mixed results, to alter its print schedule and it also shrunk the newspaper to an 11" wide by 15" tall tabloid-like page size.

It seems to me that the value of a large newspaper page is the ability to skim read more news curated by human editors, and shrinking page sizes just reduces the benefits, at least until artificial intelligence can truly replace these human editors in the future.

For reference, here are the old and new page sizes:

  • OSU Barometer old page size 11" x 17-1/2"
  • OSU Baro new page size 11" x 13"
  • Cazette-Times page size 11" x 23" (Note it had a wider page until a few years ago when most newspapers standardized on their curent paper width, which caused the wider paper to become too expensive to buy)
  • Oregonian page size 11" x 15" in 2016

Also of interest is an "opinion piece" run in the OSU student newspaper by Ed Ray, Oregon State University President, "Welcome back students, from President Ray," Barometer, Mon. Sep. 26, 2016, p. 3. The Oregon State University President mentions the upcoming 150th anniversary of the founding of OSU in 1868 as a land grant college. President Ray also summarizes the latest enrollment figures, including the fact that 59% of the 7,650 incoming OSU students are instate students (4,510 new instate students) who have come from all of the counties in Oregon. Ray doesn't mention the overall enrollment numbers, which this year promises to be more than 40,000 students.

Some other links to news of interest:

Finally, for my own reference, I've listed below some links to the key OSU Calendars: