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Monday, May 22, 2017

Baker-McConnell marriage in 'The Advocate' 50th anniversary issue

Baker-McConnell marriage in 'The Advocate' 50th anniversary issue June/July 2017, p. 81

PHOTO: Cover of "The Advocate" magazine print edition (left) included inside (right) a photo of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell being legally married in 1970 as part of the article by Jacob Anderson-Minshall, "Marriage Equality Was Won by Widowers - the love stories behind the landmark cases both ended tragically," The Advocate, Jun.-Jul. 2017, p.80-81 advocate.com posted 5/3/2017. (Note: This was a special 50th anniversary edition of "The Advocate") As a law student, Baker took his marriage equality case to the U.S. Supreme Court (Baker v. Nelson 1972) where the court's decision essentially said that marriage is decided by State laws and not Federal laws. Baker believes his marriage is still valid because Minnesota State law did not prohibit same-sex marriage at that time, and so he has initiated legal proceedings to establish that fact. (See previous post Book by Michael McConnell on his marriage to Jack Baker that led to the first Supreme Court case on gay marriage (12/29/15))

The article describes how the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment and 5th Amendment were central to the two landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage, which in both cases involved a spouse that had died and the surviving spouse sought equal treatment under the law as given to any married couple:

". . . And it started decades ago. Before Michael McConnell agreed to move in with his boyfriend, he insisted Jack Baker . . . in 1970, they became the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license and took their fight to the Supreme Court (clearly, they lost). . .

"Lesbian couple Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had been together for 40 years when a doctor told Spyer she only had a year to live. . . . They dashed up to Canada to wed in 2007. Spyer passed away two years later. Then the 80-year-old Windsor was hit with a $360,000 estate tax bill because the federal government didn't recognize their marriage. . . . took Windsor v. United States to the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. On June 26, 2013, in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court ruled that DOMA violated Fifth Amendment protection . . .

"Ohio residents Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had been together two decades when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. . . . couple quickly flew to Maryland to get married. . . When Arthur died not long afterwards, Obergefell was denied the right to be listed as the surviving spouse on Arthur's death certificate. Ohio hadn't legalized or granted recognition of same-sex marriages, so the state didn't consider Obergefell a spouse. He sued in Obergefell et al. v Hines. A federal district judge ruled Ohio must recognize the marriage, but the Sixth Circuit reversed that decision. . .

"Then June 25, 2015, in another 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell's favor, arguing the U.S. Constitution required states to not only recognize same-sex marriages from other states, but also allow same-sex marriages in their own state. In the opinion, Justice Kennedy referenced the Fourteenth Amendment . . ."

(Quoted from Jacob Anderson-Minshall, "Marriage Equality Was Won by Widowers - the love stories behind the landmark cases both ended tragically," 50th Anniversary edition, The Advocate, Jun.-Jul. 2017, p.80-81 advocate.com posted 5/3/2017)

While it is true Baker "lost" in the sense that his case did not establish legal same-sex marriage across America, Baker won in the sense that the U.S. Supreme Court's "Baker v. Nelson" decision left marriage up to State law and at that time the State of Minnesota had no law against same-sex marriage. This is why Baker believes his marrage is still legally valid, and he has initiated legal proceedings to establish this fact.

One final unrelated note aside, my low vision blindness has worsen to the point where I am unable to read the print edition of "The Advocate," other than small portions with assistive devices that are not practical for reading very much. As a result, I am reluctantly dropping my mail subscription after five decades of reading "The Advocate" magazine. Online reading will never replace printed magazines, which have been curated by a good editor and printed in a way that can be easily browsed and skim read.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fox News Hannity abuses sexual harassment laws to cement his power

newspaper headline Hannity lost his job in Santa Barbara Independent, 1989 see Businessweek, May 1-7, 2017, p. 57

PHOTO: Newspaper headline in the Santa Barbara Independent, 1989, after Sean Hannity lost his first job for insulting a Lesbian. Hannity is the last Fox News star remaining after sexual harassment claims, perhaps based on anonymous testimony by Hannity and others, have forced everyone else to leave. See article by Felix Gillette, "And Then There Was Hannity - Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes, Megyn Kelly, One by one, the biggest personalities at Fox News have left the building," Businessweek, May 1-7, 2017, p. 54-59 photo on p. 57 bloomberg.com posted April 27, 2017

After reading the article by Felix Gillette, "And Then There Was Hannity - Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes, Megyn Kelly, One by one, the biggest personalities at Fox News have left the building," Businessweek, May 1-7, 2017, p. 54-59, it is clear to me that Fox News Host Sean Hannity is intentionally turning Fox News into the "state TV" for President Donald Trump. However, I think liberals are prematurely celebrating the demise of Fox News, because I am guessing that Hannity's plan is to turn Fox News into the "Trump News" channel that he and other Trump-tards had seriously considered starting before the election. It is easy for me to speculate that Hannity proactively helped in getting O'Reilly fired by testifying against him. In a normal court legal proceeding Hannity's testimony would be a public record, but Hannity probably abused the sexual harassment laws that permit some anonymous testimony as a way to protect women and the victims of sexual harassment. Of course, this is purely my guess, which I only allude to in my following letter to the editor:

I was not surprised when the former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly lost his job after paying a total of $13 million to five women for agreeing not to sue or talk about their allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

However, I am concerned about how the laws enabling this lawsuit, which were originally passed to protect women's rights, have been undermined for the profit of both attorneys and Sean Hannity to cement his power as the last remaining star of Fox News.

The May 1-7 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Hannity was fired from his first radio job for insulting a lesbian, and he has a long public record of actively opposing women's rights.

In my opinion, it is correct that sexual harassment laws apply equally to everyone, but Hannity and his attorneys abused the law for their own gain, and after this becomes widely recognized, it will create resentment amongst many men, which will only weaken the meaning of these laws.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Hannity abused harassment laws," Sunday Gazette-Times, May 21, 2017, p. A8 gazettetimes.com posted May 1, 2017)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The homoeroticism of hazing by jocks and frats

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

PHOTO: The front page and center spread of Oregon State University's student newspaper featured some of the new members of the colonized in 2016 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." Gays boys who are out in a traditional fraternity often need to worry about being sexually assaulted during hazing rituals in "straight" fraternities that often include homoerotic dominance acts, such as sticking fingers in a guy's ass. (See previous post OSU gay frat Δ Λ Φ recruits (4/20/17))

Shortly after the above article about the formation of a gay frat at OSU was published, my local college town professional newspaper printed another story about guys in sports who have to endure homoerotic hazing rituals, in the Associated Press article by Reese Dunklin, "Sex Assaults in boys' sports minimized," Gazette-Times, May 8, 2017, p. A1-A2

"Across the U.S., perhaps nowhere is student-on-student sexual assault as dismissed or as camouflaged as in boys' sports, an Associated Press investigation found. Mischaracterized as hazing and bullying, the violence is so normalized on some teams that it persists for years, as players attacked one season become aggressors the next. . .

"An Idaho football player was hospitalized in 2015 with rectal injuries after he was sodomized with a coat hanger. That same year, a North Carolina teen suffered rectal bruising when he was jabbed through his clothes with a broomstick. Parents of a Vermont athlete blamed his 2012 suicide on distress a year after teammates sodomized him with a broom. . . .

"The upperclassmen didn't challenge the evidence in disciplinary proceedings, but described what they did to the freshmen as "wrestling and horse playing." . . .

"Although many of the cases AP identified included anal penetration, grabbing crotches or grinding genitals into teammates, those who often first learn of incidents - coaches, school officials - routinely characterize them as hazing, bullying or initiations.

"People don't want to think kids could act that way and chalk it up to jock behavior, said Danielle Rogers, who in 2011 prosecuted locker-room assaults by three athletes in Hardin, Missouri. . . .

"A group of five Florida baseball players had allegedly penetrated two teammates, one with a Gatorade bottle, during an out-of-town tournament in 2016. One boy told the coach, who responded, "It's just baseball, keep it to yourself," according to a police report filed months later.

"In Texas, a teacher reported in 2011 that basketball players were putting their fingers in teammates' bottoms. The coach insisted the action was merely a joke and not hazing, and his assistant called the complaint a "misrepresentation" by a "disgruntled player and father," school records show. The district told AP the allegations were reported to authorities, but police said they were not notified.

"Two New Mexico football coaches walked in just after a player was sodomized with a broomstick in 2008. The boys laughed it off as an "initiation" and coaches took no action, failing to halt a subsequent attack, district records show. Seven victims later sued, settling for $5 million. . . .

"The law enforcement report shows that a freshman confided to a coach that upperclassmen had sexually assaulted him and others with a pool cue in a cabin during an out-of-town tournament trip. . .

"The head coach called the boy's mother but "grossly minimized" his condition, so she allowed her son to remain with the team, authorities said. After his discharge from the hospital, the boy returned to the cabin, collapsed and had to be rushed into emergency surgery to repair a damaged bladder, colon and rectal wall. . .

" Some Leechburg players were sodomizing teammates with a phallic-shaped piece of wood they called a "yoshi" stick, records and interviews show. If someone goofed in practice, players would yell, "You're getting yoshied!"

"After showering at a 2010 basketball camp, he was tackled by four upperclassmen who tried to penetrate him with their fingers, according to his deposition in the family's pending lawsuit against the Olympia School District. The boy said he didn't want to worry his mom, plus he was "afraid to tell on my teammates."

"I felt like if I told someone," he testified, "then I would have been, you know, excluded from the team and not able to play varsity basketball." . .

"I want to get everything out there so people understand this is not normal," she said. "I am sick and tired as a parent of running into individuals, professional individuals, who do this 'Oh, boys will be boys.' "

(Quoted from Reese Dunklin, "Sex Assaults in boys' sports minimized," Gazette-Times, May 8, 2017, p. A1-A2)

I bet that the best way to stop hazing is show straight guys all of the gay porno that eroticizes hazing between sports jocks or frat boys. Most straight guys would not be caught dead doing anything that would turn on a gay guy.

Freudian theory had much to say about the relationship of anal eroticism and homoeroticism to the supposedly straight, heterosexual men. In many cases anal eroticism is intermixed with a dominance and submission act of one man asserting his dominance over another man.

In my experience with heterosexual men, most of them seem to have an obsession with not wanting to be "fucked in the ass" by another man, either literally or figuratively. The psychology of this phobia seems to be the drive that most straight men have as they try to assert dominance over other men so that the other man will submit to their every wish. Although there is a clear subset of gay men who find dominance and submission to be an enjoyable sexual fetish, I have never understood the joy in it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

OSU female STEM majors and drag featured in student newspaper

OSU Barometer May 1, 2017, p. 15 (left) STEM, p. 7 (right) drag

PHOTO: Headline about the lack of female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) majors at OSU (left) and the annual OSU Pride Week Drag show (right) are featured in the latest OSU student newspaper, just in time for the family visit weekend. The total OSU enrollment is approximately 30,225 students and 24 percent (7254) are majoring in engineering, 80 percent men (5836) and 20 percent women (1418). Alos, according to data printed in OSU Momentum! sidebar, "Engineering by the numbers," Spring 2017, p. 13 the OSU College of Engineering 2016 enrollment numbers are 1,731 female out of a total of 8,724 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled, according. (See Jaya Black-Lazo, "Lack of women in STEM majors at OSU apparent," Barometer, May 1, 2017, p. 15-16 and "OSU Spring Drag Show provides form of self-expression, creates community for LGBTQ+ individuals ," OSU barometer, May 1, 2017, p. 1, 9) Also see previous post OSU 'Beaver Queen' student graduation story read by parents in student newspaper (6/12/15) - "The graduation of the Oregon State University student Luke Kawasaki" who is shown still performing this year in the photo above.

From the student newspaper:

" Engineering is one of thmajors at Oregon State University with the largest number of students, as well as the largest disparity between men and women. According to the Oregon State enrollment and demographics report, 24 percent of the university is made up of engineering students, the largest major by far at OSU. Based on average enrollment for 2017, undergraduate engineering students identifying as male numbered 5,836 while women numbered only 1,418. . . However, not every major at OSU is dominated by men. The College of Forestry has a fairly equal distribution of men and women. . ."

(Quoted from Jaya Black-Lazo, "Lack of women in STEM majors at OSU apparent," Barometer, May 1, 2017, p. 15-16)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

OSU gay frat Δ Λ Φ recruits

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

PHOTO: The front page and center spread of Oregon State University's student newspaper featured some of the new members of the colonized in 2016 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) See previous post OSU gay frat Δ Λ Φ organized by student Cory Zimmerman(11/3/16)

The gay OSU fraternity Δ Λ Φ (A.k.a. Delta Lambda Phi) is recruiting new members according to the student newspaper article by Brian Rathbone, News/Sports Chief, "Two smaller fraternities recruit in the Memorial Union Quad," Barometer, posted Apr. 11, 2017. The irony of this headline may be missed by younger students who do not recall the old theory that homosexuals were created by older, perverted men who would prey on boys for sex, who enjoyed it and passed the disease on to younger boys when they grew up to be men.

For more, see home page of the gay OSU Fraternity Phi Delta Theta ΦΔΘ Oregon Beta chapter at Oregon state, 120 Northwest 13th Street Corvallis, OR 97330 and see previous posts:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Local TV news spreads Trump's fake news while claiming it is not

VIDEO: An exact audio copy of a video that is frequently being replayed during the local news broadcasts in both Portland and Corvallis, Oregon, of a man who identifies himself only as "Scott Livingston, vice president of news for this television station." (Posted by Diamond Joe, "Sinclair News Vice President Speaks On The "Danger" Of Fake News," youtube.com posted Mar 23, 2017)

My local TV news stations have been constantly running the above propaganda on behalf of President Trump, and after learning about the politics behind it, I decided to write the following letter to the editor:

The "national media outlets" are being accused of spreading "fake news" by several local TV news broadcasts, receivable in Corvallis over-the-air, during a frequently replayed video, which is not labeled as opinion or an advertisement, of a man who identifies himself only as "Scott Livingston, vice president of news for this television station."

Livingston also sanctimoniously asks viewers to report directly to him, if they see any fake news on his stations, by using the station's website to contact him.

At first, I erroneously assumed this was a good manager trying to distance himself from President Trump's vicious "fake news" propaganda, but then I was very disappointed to learn that Livingston supported the election of President Trump by cutting a deal with Trump's campaign to broadcast "news" favorable to Trump and derogatory to Hillary Clinton on the hundreds of media outlets he controls nationwide.

Livingston's Sinclair Broadcasting Inc. will financially gain from any deregulation led by Trump, especially the elimination of FCC rules restricting TV station owners - rules originally put in place decades ago to prevent the spreading of government propaganda.

The local TV stations controlled by Sinclair include Eugene's network affiliates CBS Channel 13 KVAL-TV and NBC Channel 16 KMTR-TV, plus Portland's network affiliate ABC Channel 2 KATU-TV, which is receivable in Corvallis via its UHF channel 47 translator.

Like a typical bully, Trump duplicitously spreads "fake news," but then whines like he is a victim when others spread it about him.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "'Fake news' on local TV?" Gazette-Times, Apr, 14, 2017, p. A8 gazettetimes.com posted online as "A misleading pitch about fake news")

See the following links:

Rev. Pat Robertson's latest excuse for President Trump's unchristian behavior is that Trrump is a heathan sent by God to save America! (See previous post Anti-gay theocrat worships Trump and promotes sex book on his Christian TV show (1/14/17))

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New OSU diversity officer Charlene Alexander

OSU diversity officer Charlene Alexander 2017

PHOTO: New Oregon State University chief diversity officer Charlene Alexander received newspaper coverage in article by Staff, "Alexander named OSU's chief diversity officer -- Oregon State University hires new diversity officer," Mid-Valley Sunday Gazette-Times, Apr. 2, 2017, p. A1, A9 gazettetimes.com posted online as "OSU hires new diversity officer" Apr. 1, 2017 and the OSU student newspaper story Courtesy of OSU News and Communication Press Release, "Charlene Alexander appointed OSU Chief Diversity Officer," OSU Barometer, Apr. 3, 2017, p. 1.

Thomas Kraemer affirmative action letter in OSU Barometer Mar. 13, 2017, p.14

PHOTO: See previous post Affirmative action bake sale at OSU ignores business case for diversity (3/14/17) to read an ADA accessible text copy of my letter, published by the student newspaper, in reaction to the OSU students who joined the national college protests against "affirmative action" by holding a bake sale that used reverse discrimination to determine what price they charged people. Or see the online cloud version of the student newspaper Thomas Kraemer, "Diversity is necessary," OSU Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 14 (issuu.com version), which ironically is not accessible to students who are low vision or blind because it was not also posted online in an HTML text format as has been always done in the past. I contacted the student editor who was unaware of this problem.

"Oregon State University has named Charlene Alexander its chief diversity officer.

"Alexander, who also will hold vice president status, comes to OSU from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where she served for the past four years as associate provost for diversity and director of the university's diversity office. A 20-year faculty member and administrator at Ball State, she starts work in Corvallis on June 30.

"Alexander's OSU responsibilities include guiding institutional diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice throughout the university. She replaces Angela Batista, who had served in the position on an interim basis since Feb. 1, 2016. Batista will resume her previous role of associate provost for student affairs and dean of student life."

(Quoted from Staff, "Alexander named OSU's chief diversity officer -Oregon State University hires new diversity officer," Sunday Gazette-Times, Apr. 2, 2017, p. A1, A9 gazettetimes.com posted online as "OSU hires new diversity officer" Apr. 1, 2017)

It will be interesting to see if the new director will restore some of the LGBTQII+ programs and staff, or keep it combined with other functions.

Of related interest, see in the latest print edition of the student newspaper the story by Jaya Black-Lazo, "Fighting for social justice," OSU Barometer, Apr. 3, 2017, p. 7-8 , which says, "Community Relations Facilitators work to foster dialogue, promote inclusivity in residence halls."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Republicans irresponsibly renege on promises to repeal Obamacare

Cost of Obamacare Businessweek Mar. 27, 3017, p. 41

PHOTO: Chart comparing the cost of health insurance to individuals of different ages and incomes levels that either qualify or do not qualify for a government subsidy, under the existing Obamacare Affordable Care Act (ACA) versus the proposed Trumpcare, which Republicans decided not to vote on in late March and instead chose to keep Obamacare, which they expect will "blowup" on its own so they can blame the Democrats. Key numbers that are shown in the above chart (presumably national averages) say that for a 64-year-old person, with an annual income of $68,200, he or she would receive no subsidy from Obamacare to help pay their health insurance premium that would cost them out-of-pocket $1,275 per month ($15,300 per year) not including deductibles and co-pays. If his or her "household income" was $26,500 per year, then they would only owe $142 per month out-of-pocket for premiums because the government is subsidizing $1,133 per month of the cost. Obamacare can charge the 64 year-old 3 times what a younger person pays, but Trumpcare proposed to allow them to be charged 5 times more. This year, if you make more than $47,520 per year, then you will not get any subsidy from Obamacare. A typical early retiree on Medicare, with a younger spouse who is not yet eligible for Medicare, could easily make this much money from just the sum of both their Social Security checks and company pension checks, and typically their income would be much more because household income also includes earnings on their retirement savings and investments. (My annotations on the above chart were my notes from reading the article by Ben Steverman, "Health Care: Time to Rethink Early Retirement," Businessweek, Mar. 27 - Apr. 2, 2017, p. 40-41, bloomberg.com posted online Mar. 23, 2017 as "Want to Retire Early? Good Luck Under Trumpcare".

I am mad as hell at Republicans who reneged on their promise to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, even though I generally support the goals and good intentions of Obamacare, becasue I worry that it will blow up without some critical fixes. I also was counting on the promise that the "Individual Responsibility Payment" penalty if I do not buy Obamacare for a family member will not be charged to me on my next year tax filing, as President Trump has also promised in an Executive Order, which may or may not be upheld by the IRS Tax Court without having been passed by Congress in the form of valid Legislation. I don't understand why Republicans didn't do a quick repeal, even if it took some time to replace it.

I don't want to pay "Individual Responsibility Payment" penalty next year for a family member, whose premiums were $141 per month before Obamacare, but then rose to $241 per month until the health insurance company cancelled all Grandfathered health plans, which forced former policy holders onto the Obamacare Marketplace where the cheapest policy for next year costs more than $600 per month. My only hope now is that an IRS Tax Court will uphold President Trump's Executive Order telling the IRS not to charge people, or hope my income is less than 8.3 percent of the health insurance premiums for next year, which exempts taxpayers from the Obamacare Individual Responsibility Payment.

Under the current law, if our combined household income is over $47,520 per year, we will receive no subsidy from Obamacare, but we still must buy Obamacare, which this year costs over $600 per month in our State just for the premiums, not including the $9500 annual deductible and co-pays out-of-pocket costs before it would pay anything. (Prior to Obamacare, health insurance cost less than $200 per month for a catastrophic plan that was only intended to protect your retirement savings from an unexpected medical problem, instead of comprehensive coverage of small amounts for regular doctor visits.)

Supposedly, President Trump signed an executive order saying we wouldn't be charged for not buying Obamacare, but I can't find a legal copy of it -- the transcript of the video showing him signing it is not clear to me and I am sure that no lawyer would be able to defend his words in court. As a result, I bet there will be an IRS Tax Court case this year to determine if the IRS will be able to force payment of it or not. I watched the Republican's debate on this issue in Congress and nobody supported voting for Trump's Executive Order, so I decided to write the following letter to the editor and also send it to my Democratic Representative:

By choosing to keep Obamacare and not fix it, while expecting it to "blow up," the Republican majority, led by President Trump, is irresponsibly reneging on its campaign promises.

Trump signed an executive order promising individuals would not be charged for not buying Obamacare, but will it be upheld by the IRS Tax Court?

Consequently, Republicans have lost my trust they will not also renege on Trump's promise to let me keep my current Medicare health insurance and Social Security earnings.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: GOP reneges on its promises," Gazette-Times, Apr. 4, 2017, p. A6 gazettetimes.com posted Mar. 27, 2017)

This issue drew some other letters to my local professional newspaper, such as one by, Theo Dreher, "Letter: Additional proof regarding Trump," gazettetimes.com posted Mar. 27, 2017, who said, "The spectacular political failure (thank heavens!) marked by the March 24 collapse of the Republican effort to repeal or modify the Affordable Care Act is another data point testing the hypothesis that Donald Trump is unfit to be president." Of course, the Trump-tard trolls posted in response some angry comments that evaded the point that Republicans are not taking any responsibility for their actions.

Now that President Trump has reneged on his promises and declared Obamacare to be his choice, the U.S. Census Bureau says 13.1 million Americans, Ages 55 to 64, aren't working and I bet many will be bankrupted by Obamacare, according to on-the-record speeches by U.S. Congressmen during the Trumpcare debate.

Republican congressmen provided two examples in their districts, such as the 65-years-old person, who has a good pension and Social Security check and is on Medicare, but his 60-years-old spouse, who is mandated to buy Obamacare at the marketplace average of $1275 per month, according to Congressional Budget Office numbers.

A second example was the older, small business person, with a spouse bookkeeper for the business, who are facing unaffordable premiums because they earn more than $47,520 per year of household income, which disqualifies them from any Obamacare subsidy.

Obamacare needs to be fixed and it is very irresponsible of the Republicans, who control all branches of the U.S. Government, to be forcing many Americans to buy Obamacare or risk being bankrupted by an unexpected illness.

The only thing I agree with Trump is that Republicans should be punished in the next mid-term elections.

See previous posts:

Monday, April 3, 2017

Using accessibility features of MS OS and IE browser for low vision and color blindness

Two screen shots without (top) and without (bottom) using accessibility feature in MS IE browser for low vision and color blindness

PHOTO: The accessibility features for low vision blindness and color blindness, which are built into the standard Microsoft Windows 7 Internet Explorer Web Browser application, are demonstrated above with two screen shots of the same Google Blogger warning page -- The top screen shot shows the normal tont sizes and colors, which are not accessible to me because my low vision and color blindness prevents me from seeing the headline, "Content Warning," nor the button label saying, "I understand and wish to continue." The bottom screen shot shows the same Blogger warning page while using the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser with some accessibility features turned on, of which are also affected by the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system accessibility features used to increase the screen and font sizes.

As my low vision blindness has been gradually worsening, I have to use more and more of the accessibility features built into the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system and the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser application. Until recently, the only changes I needed were to adjust the screen resolution and increase the font sizes, but after my Blue-Orange-Yellow color blindness worsened, to where Blue text looks black to me and Orange or Yellow text are invisible to me, I have also been forced to change the color scheme in both Windows and IE.

For example, in the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web broswer, to help my low vision, I go to the Menu pull eown for Tools -> Internet Options ... General tab -> Accessibility button -> Select Formatting and check Ignore colors specified on webpages, ignore text styles specified on webpages, and ignore font sizes specified on webpages, as seen in the example screen shot above. In addition to doing this, the MS IE browser "Tools" pull down menu also has an Internet Options -> Colors button selection for the text colors and background colors, which I had to optimize to see it best, along with a "Fonts" button to select the default font style "Webpage font: Arial and plain text font "Courier New" for easier reading.

In the Windows 7 operating system, Right clicking on the desktop and selecting Personalize ... will go to the Windows Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> Personalization to select a color theme, where I needed to set up a custom one to maximize my ability to see. I also selected in the Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> Display -> Make the text larger of smaller and set it to 150% to also make it easier to read.

The more complete list of accessibility settings for the Windows Operating system can be found from the Windows Control Panel home page under "Ease of Access -> Ease of Access Center -> Make the computer easier to see. I played with one of the options, "Choose High Contrast Theme," but I have been unable to set it up in a way I can see with my color blindness or that works well with many IE Web pages (e.g. without turning pictures black, etc.) and so I typically leave it off. Note, to turn on or off "High Contrast" for the Windows 7 OS press on the keyboard the alt key, left shift key plus print key simultaneously, which by default gives you a warning and a sound when it changes. This is hard as hell to use and I have been unable to change the colors it uses to ones that I can see.

As a child I saw my grandparents struggle with low blindness and so when I was helping to invent the first Hewlett-Packard personal computers in the 1970's and 1980's with graphic window operating systems, I pitched the idea of accessibility both corporate-wide and to Bill Gates, who was then the young founder of Microsoft. I am grateful the idea was embraced because I never thought I would need it, and in my experience, accessibility, when implemented voluntarily by companies, usually results in more useful aids to the disabled than does any government law or mandate, such as the Americans With Disability Act, which is important, but only nudges the laggards to address accessibility issues.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Non-binary gender OSU student has nothing to do with computer science

Non-binary gender person front page Corvallis Sunday newspaper Mar. 26, 2017, p. A1

PHOTO: The front page of the Corvallis Sunday newspaper featured a story on two Corvallis, Oregon citizens who have a non-binary gender identity, including an Oregon State University doctoral student working toward a Ph.D. degree in nuclear engineering. (See story by Bennett Hall, "A question of identity: Courtney Nicholas becomes Benton County's first non-binary citizen," Gazette-Times, Sun. Mar. 26, 2017, p. A2, A4, A6-A7 gazettetimes.com posted Mar. 26, 2017)

The word binary was appropriated in the middle 20th Century by mathematicians and computer scientists for referring to the base-2 number system intrinsic to the theoretical mathematics of digital computers, which are built by using a large number of electromechanical relay switches or electronic transistor switches, which can be either turned on or off to represent a binary digit of zero or one, along with a combination of several switches configured with feedback in a way to form a binary flip-flop, which can be flipped back and forth between one of two states as a way to store a single bit of information for a long time. In contrast, humans commonly use the Base 10 number system for counting and for arithmetic calculations, which uses the ten numbers from 0 to 9, probably due to the fact that humans have ten fingers.

Until recently, I've rarely seen the word "binary" used for purposes other than computers, therefore the first time I heard of a non-binary gender identity, I immediately wondered what it had to do with the mathematics of computer science, until after I looked up the word. (See Google define:nonbinary accessed Mar. 27, 2017, which links to the article, "Genderqueer," From Wikipedia accessed Mar. 27, 2017)

Below are some selected quotes from the professional newspaper article shown above:

You've probably never met anyone quite like Courtney Nicholas. Then again, maybe you have.

Nicholas, who likes to be called Court, was named Jackson at birth and was raised as a boy. But at some point it became clear that designation didn't really fit.

"I first realized I was not a male about a year and a half, two years ago," said Nicholas, an 18-year-old Corvallis resident.

For awhile, Nicholas tried presenting as female, but that didn't feel right either.

Then, last June, Nicholas realized there was another option. In a first-in-the-nation ruling, a Multnomah County judge had just granted a petition by Portland resident Jamie Shupe to legally change sex to non-binary, meaning neither male nor female. A Polk County judge granted a similar request in November.

On March 8, Nicholas became the third person in Oregon -- and the first in Benton County -- to be granted non-binary status. . . .

"You can call me non-binary, you can call me genderqueer, you can call me agender or transgender or androgynous," they said. "I just don't see gender as being a big part of my world, my personal identity." . .

The issue has also played out in the controversy over whether to allow transgender people to choose which public restroom to use. Lawmakers in a number of states have introduced legislation that would either allow transgender individuals to use the restroom they feel more comfortable with or require them to use public facilities that match the gender they were assigned at birth. . .

Oregon courts have been split over granting that recognition to non-binary individuals. . .

Late last year a judge in Jackson County Circuit Court refused to grant a non-binary gender petition, saying state law doesn't allow it. But judges in Multnomah, Polk and now Benton County have chosen to interpret the law more broadly, to include an individual's choice not to identify as being on one side or another of the standard binary gender divide. . .

While Court Nicholas may be Benton County's first non-binary resident, they may not be the only one much longer.

Emory Colvin, a 32-year-old doctoral student in nuclear engineering at Oregon State University, filed papers last week in Circuit Court seeking non-binary recognition. Colvin, whose birth name was Emily, was brought up as a girl but didn't really identify as either male or female.

(Quoted from Bennett Hall, "A question of identity: Courtney Nicholas becomes Benton County's first non-binary citizen," Gazette-Times, Sun. Mar. 26, 2017, p. A2, A4, A6-A7 gazettetimes.com posted Mar. 26, 2017)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

George Weinberg who coined 'homophobia' died at age 87

Frank Kameny, Jack Nichols and George Weinberg riding on Heritage of Pride float

PHOTO: (left to right) Dr. Frank Kameny, Jack Nichols, and Dr. George Weinberg being honored as Grand Marshalls of New York City's 2004 Heritage of Pride Parade. George Weinberg who coined the word 'homophobia' died at age 87. See Dr. George Weinberg, "How Homophobia Became a Word," gaycitynews.nyc posted Mar. 23, 2017 and my essay, Thomas Kraemer, "Reviews: 'Society and teh Healthy Homosexual,' by Dr. George Weinberg, 1972, St. Martin's Press, 150 pages " gaytoday.com posted November 10, 2003, plus the interview by Jack Nichols, "George Weinberg, Ph.D. - Badpuppy's February Interview," gaytoday.com posted Feb. 3, 1997. (Photo courtesy of Randy Wicker -- See previous post Jack Nichols biography with blurb of my book review (2/17/13))

In the essay i wrote for the online publication of Jack Nichols (Thomas Kraemer, "Reviews: 'Society and teh Healthy Homosexual,' by Dr. George Weinberg, 1972, St. Martin's Press, 150 pages " gaytoday.com posted November 10, 2003) pleased Dr. Weinberg so much that he took the time to call me and share much more of his thinking with me. A writer for the New York City "Gay City News" was working with George shortly before his death to write a more comprhensive history of how homophobia developed, and an uncompleted portion of it was printed in the same issue as his death announcement. (Dr. George Weinberg, "How Homophobia Became a Word," gaycitynews.nyc posted Mar. 23, 2017). Some selected quotes from my essay are below:

Dr. George Weinberg is a straight psychologist who is widely credited with coining the term "homophobia" to describe the fear many people express about homosexuals. His book Society and the Healthy Homosexual caringly described the problem of homophobia and it boldly rejected the prevailing medical opinion that homosexuality was a mental illness.

The title of Weinberg's book humorously mocks an archetypical 1953 book Society and the Homosexual by Gordon Westwood (with introduction by Dr. Edward Glover) that proclaimed, "The [homosexual] man determined to break society will be involved in all kinds of psychopathic crimes; these may seem to have no outward connection with his homosexuality, but a number of seemingly unrelated crimes are often found to have a homosexual origin." Westwood's opinions about society and the "unhealthy homosexual" were widely accepted as being true by virtually all psychiatrists of that era. . .

In Weinberg's book (pp. 132-136) he clearly states, "A colleague of mine, Kenneth Smith, who read a paper of mine on homophobia, did one of the first pieces of research on homophobia that I know of." . . I did an exhaustive computerized and physical page-by-page search for homophobia references in over fifty years worth of archival journals (the professional peer-reviewed journals that all university libraries index and expect to keep forever). The first publication of the word "homophobia" in an archival journal does indeed appear to be Smith's paper. However, it is indisputable that it was Weinberg's book that popularized the concept of "homophobia." . . .

Jack Nichols recalled (in a personal communication, November 2003) making up the word homophobia "out of the blue" and using it in the May 23, 1969 SCREW newspaper column titled "He-Man Horseshit," which he co-wrote with Lige Clarke. In this column, they defined homophobia as "fear of being thought attracted to one's own sex," which is slightly different from Weinberg's 1972 definition, "the fear of homosexuals." Nichols emphasizes that he credits Weinberg for coining homophobia because, "'Lige and Jack' were simply being somewhat flip. We simply came up with the word. The column was an early assault on machismo - - one that predated my major work that Lige inspired me to write: Men's Liberation, (Penguin Books, 1975)." . .

Given the recent brouhaha over the privacy of library records, I was amused to find the old library check out card still in the back of the book. Before this library converted to an electronic checkout system in 1987, patrons printed their name and Social Security number on the card, which was then stamped with a due date and kept by the library until the book was returned. The last checkout was in 1981 to a student that lived in a fraternity according to the student directory.

My old college library had a similar publicly visible checkout scheme. I was too scared in 1973 to sign my name and so I recall reading Society and the Healthy Homosexual while sitting in the library. I couldn't "steal" it as many 60's radicals recommended because everybody was physically searched at the exit. Today, electronic tags bound into the book spines will trigger an alarm at the exit. Library records may be "private" now, but government mandated library software programs censor and keep track of everything kids read. This is progress? . . .

one peer-reviewed scientific study found that men who have a negative view of homosexuals get more erections while viewing homosexual pornography than other men. In other words, homophobes are sexually aroused by gay sex. (H.E. Adams, et al., (1996) "Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?" Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, 440-445) . . .

Another study tested the hypothesis that aggressive homophobic behavior occurs in men who are conflicted by simultaneous feelings of arousal and anger over homosexuals. This finding may explain why homophobes, such as Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, heatedly demand that homosexuals "keep it private" and stay in the closet. The mere presence of gay people may cause sexual arousal in homophobes, which makes them violently angry. (Jeffrey A. Bernat, et al., (2001). "Homophobia and physical aggression toward homosexual and heterosexual individuals," Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 179-187) . . .

A recent study found homophobia to be a "disgust" reaction instead of a "phobia." These researchers believe homophobia is psychologically closer to racism. (University of Arkansas psychologists presented this finding at the June 2002, American Psychological Society convention, New Orleans . . .

Racism and homophobia are equally wrong but are worse when they occur together. U.K. activist Peter Tatchell's essay "Homophobia: Why can blacks bash gays?" (New Statesman, 14 October 2002, pp.14-15) discusses "the crushing strength of black homophobia." Twenty-five mostly black fans of reggae anti-gay lyrics, such as "Kill the batty boy" and "Kill the chi chi men," recently kicked and punched Tatchell for protesting this hate music. . .

Anti-gay religious training also breeds homophobia. A recent scientifically sampled campus-wide study at Texas A&M measured this relationship as part of a larger study about the acceptance of women at this formerly all-male, all-military school. Unlike previous studies, this one looked to see if the 18 to 19 year old students that were raised in more conservative religions were more homophobic than other students. The authors' multi-variable statistically significant results confirmed this hypothesis. However, the authors found highly homophobic persons even in liberal religions, which means that religious training is not the sole cause of homophobia. Consistent with President Bush's beliefs and most religious teaching, homophobic Texas A&M students typically do not support discrimination against gay people, but they also believe that homosexuality is immoral and dangerous to the family. This type of homophobia would explain why so many people oppose gay marriages and gay clerics while they simultaneously oppose discrimination. (Barbara Finlay, Carol S. Walther, "The Relation of Religious Affiliation, Service Attendance, and Other Factors To Homophobic Attitudes Among University Students," Review of Religious Research, Vol. 44, No. 4, June, 2003) . . .

In Chapter 4, "The Healthy Homosexual," Weinberg said that a higher percentage of "gay liberation leaders" had never suffered from guilt. Later research confirmed this idea. (Walter G. Stephan, "Parental relationships and early social experiences of activist male homosexuals and male heterosexuals," Journal of Abnormal Psychology (1973) 52:3, 502-513. The "activists" in this study were gay men in Jack Baker's University of Minnesota FREE (Fight Repression of Erotic Expression) group, which I joined in 1972.) . . .

Also in Chapter 5, Weinberg talks about "Communication with Parents." He quotes the notorious 1968 book by Peter and Barbara Wyden, Growing up Straight, which remains popular with ex-gay groups. The late Peter Wyden is the father of Oregon's U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. Not long after Wyden wrote this book he committed Ron's brother to a mental institution. (Including a brief stay at the famous Menninger Clinic) It is unclear why Peter Wyden was so obsessed with raising two "straight" sons that he would write a book about it. Are Wyden's sons gay? . .

I would like to share three of the many tributes to George Weinberg that I stumbled across while reviewing thirty years of homophobia literature:

L. Page "Deacon" Maccubbin, who recently purchased the legendary "Oscar Wilde Bookshop" in New York City, told The Washington Post about how he opened his first gay bookstore in 1974. He specifically mentioned George Weinberg's book as being pivotal in his success. He added that gay bookstores were important because regular bookshops didn't carry them and people didn't check out library books - - they stole them. (The Washington Post, "Bookseller's Success Speaks Volumes: Lambda Rising Owner Helped Bring Gay Literature Out of the Closet," April 2, 2003, Nation, page C01)

The second one, a history of the pioneering lesbian group Daughters of Bilitis, credited, among other things, George Weinberg's speech on the dangers of psychoanalysis at the 1965 ECHO (East Coast Homophile Organizations) convention for causing their publication The Ladder to question the illness model of homosexuality and to refocus on "homophobia" as being the primary problem. (Kristin Gay Esterberg, "From Illness to Action: Conceptions of Homosexuality in The Ladder, 1956-1965," The Journal of Sex Research, Feb. 1990, 27:1, pp. 65-80)

The third one, Arthur Evans, who helped start the Gay Activists Alliance in 1969, credited "George Weinberg, a straight psychologist," for regularly attending GAA meetings and for coining the word "homophobia" after watching with fascination the group's "zaps" and "media responses." Evans said this was an "example of how theory can be rooted in practice." (Arthur Evans, "The Logic of Homophobia," Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, Summer 2000, 7:3)

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Reviews: 'Society and teh Healthy Homosexual,' by Dr. George Weinberg, 1972, St. Martin's Press, 150 pages " gaytoday.com posted November 10, 2003)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

OSU transgender bathroom sex desegregation and microaggressions

OSU transgender bathroom story in Barometer Mar. 13, 2017, p. 4-5

PHOTO: "Despite a decision by the Trump Administration to rescind federal protection for transgender students, Oregon State University has continued their commitment toward the inclusion and safety of all transgender students," says the student newspaper story by Jamie Chin, "OSU commits to continued inclusion of transgender students: Announcement follows U.S. Department of Education's recent change in guidance regarding access to restrooms and facilities for transgender students," Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 1, 4-5 and Jamie Chin, "OSU commits to continued inclusion of transgender students," Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 1, 4-5 issuu.com Reader version. (See previous posts OSU 'gender inclusive' bathrooms hit front page of student newspaper (2/3/16) and Transgender bathroom politics today is similar to anti-gay politics of 50 years ago (5/23/16))

The title of this post, "OSU transgender bathroom sex desegregation and microaggressions," was inspired by the recent shift of conservatives and Christian Republicans from mostly opposing gay marriages to instead mostly demanding that public bathrooms be segregated according to the sex listed on your birth certificate. I assume that this shift in Republican political talking points is because gay marriage has become so normalized, it no longer motivates people to vote Republican, whereas the transgender bathroom issue still resonates, even with many Democratic swing coters.

The title of this post was also inspired by a student newspaper post by Sydney McHale, "Students encounter microaggressions," Barometer, Mar. 6, 2917 that discussed the concept of microaggression, which appears to have become a popular concept on college campuses across America. (For an example of a mircoaggression, see previous post Affirmative action bake sale at OSU ignores business case for diversity (3/14/17))

To check up on how the word "microaggression" is being defined today, I did a Google search define:microagression accessed Mar. 18, 2017, which defined a microagression as, "indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group." One of the top Google search results linked to the article, "Microaggression," wikipedia.org accessed Mar. 18, 2017, which states, "A microaggression is the casual degradation of any marginalized group. The term was coined by psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflict on African Americans."

Although the term microaggression was originally applied to black issues, it has clearly become a term more broadly applied, which led me to ask, "Is the segregation of bathrooms by the sex listed on your birth certificate an example of a microaggression by the cisgender people directed at the transgender?" For example, cisgender Christian Republicans have been exploiting the tansgender bathroom issue as a way to anger voters so that they will oppose granting equal rights to transgender people.

While thinking about the politics of transgender bathrooms, it occurred to me that rarely does anybody discuss the deeper question, "Why are public bathrooms segregated by sex, either by custom or even by law in many places?"

I recall asking my mother, when I was a child, why there was a separate men's lavatories and Lady's restrooms (often with couches), especially because she would insist on taking me with her into the women's restroom while telling me it was only for my own protection from bad men -- without answering my original question about why.

For example, I vividly recall one time when my mother took me into a women's bathroom while we were shopping in a large downtown department store, and an older lady took one look at me and screamed, "You are too old to be in here!" My mother instantly looked embarrassed, quickly ushered me outside and let me use the men's room from that day forward.

The practice of mother's taking their children into the women's room was common when I was growing up in the 1950's. The only places I see this today is where they have designated "family restrooms" used by either a mother or father with their child. These so-called family bathrooms are sometimes designated also for use by transgender people because they are supposedly unisex.

It wasn't until I became a teenager when I learned from reading the newspaper police reports that a few men had been arrested for "indecent behavior" in the downtown public library, where I had often visited with my mother and she would never explain to me what the "bad men" in there might do to me, nor would she tell me what they did to get arrested.

In fact, I didn't learn the details of these arrests until I read a book documenting the sociology of "Tearoom Trade" that described how many homosexual men would loiter in public restrooms looking to give or receive oral sex, or more rarely anal sex. Prior to the Stonewall riot in1969, many gay men thought tearooms were their only option to find sex because gay bars were often raided and there were few places where a gay man could hookup without being noticed. Today, out and proud gay men have much better places to hookup, but tearooms are still being used by those with a fetish for it and famously by a few closeted gay men who see it as a way to get sex anonymously.

In the early 1970's I bought a gay guidebook that included a list of tearooms, across America, and it said tearooms were often located in public libraries and Greyhound bus stations, including the Bus Station in Corvallis. In addition, the guide book listed two isolated bathrooms in the OSU Memorial Union as being hot tearooms. These rooms have not been changed by any remodeling, but I am not aware if they are still being used as tearooms.

As an accommodation to transgender students, OSU has designated many unisex bathrooms for students of all genders. Although this action has been well received, a few transgender people see it as being a microaggression by the cisgender because in their mind, all bathrooms should be accessible, instead of just designating certain ones.

This brings me back to the original question I asked as a child, "Why are bathroom segregated by the sex listed on your birth certificate?

Illogically, one reason might be that many people are disgusted by the idea of a transgender person using the same public bathroom, which is the reason a relative of mine gave me.

Even though this relative of mine usually rejected any logical argument concerning emotional or religious topics related to sex, I went ahead and asked her if she would want a transgendered man, who looked like a man, forced by law to use the same bathroom as her, just because female was listed on his birth certificate?

As expected, my relative's reaction was to look perplexed and physically agitated by my question. She reluctantly agreed that somebody who looked like a man in the lady's restroom would upset her even though they had been born a female.

This is why, at a minimum, transgender people should be allowed to use the hathroom they feel the safest in -- one that is congruent with their gender expression.

Of course, another reason some people oppose allowing a transgender person in their bathroom is because they worry perverts will pretend to be trans and sexually leer at the opposite sex.

My response to this reason is to acknowledge that sexually leering at another person is bad behavior, and this bad behavior is what should be forbidden, instead of barring all transgender people from the restroom of their gender.

For example, I asked the relative of mine, "How do sex-segregated bathrooms prevent gay women from coming in and starting at you sexually?" She went silent and gave no reply.

Gay men learn at a young age that sexually leering at straight men in a locker room will often result in physical violence toward them.

When I grew up and became an adult, I recall reminiscing with my mother about our experience taking me with her to the women's restroom as a child. She was able to laugh about how she was embarrassed by the women who yelled at me that I was too old be in the women's room with my mother. I then asked my mother again why she thought that so many people wanted bathrooms to be segregated by the sex listed on your birth certificate. The first reason she gave was her fear of a man sexually leering at her while she was undressed.

Other people have shared with me their more practical reason for wanting all bathrooms segregated by sex. For example, men want to have more urinals than toilets, whereas women want more stalls and they hate having to put the toilet seat down after a man has used the toilet standing up.

One man, who told me he had worked his way through college by cleaning restrooms, said that women were much messier than men, in his vast experience in many restrooms. I've heard women say the exact opposite reason to have sex-segregated bathrooms.

Although the practical reasons for sex-segregated bathrooms have some truth to them, I believe that the Freudian sexual hang-ups most people possess are the primary reasons for wanting bathrooms segregated by sex. This is clearly based on emotional logic instead of mathematical logic.

According to my Swedish Grandmother, all of the Swedes she grew up with in the 1800's considered the prudishness of Americans to be silly and puritanical because Swedish culture saw nudity as being natural -- it was culturally expected that you would go to a Swedish Sauna and bath naked with your whole family -- children and their parents would routinely see each other naked. My Grandmother told me about this custom of Swedes after she had discovered how modest I was about being seen naked as a boy when I refused to get undressed in front of her to take a shower. I was also embarrassed to watch her laid down naked on her deck sunbathing, despite the fact she could be seen from a major road running near her home. Unlike most other Americans, my Grandmother truly saw nothing wrong with nudity.

The present day transgender bathroom issue at OSU is described in the student newspaper article by Jamie Chin, "OSU commits to continued inclusion of transgender students," Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 1, 4-5. I've selected a few quotes below:

Despite the decision by the Trump Administration to rescind federal protection for transgender students, Oregon State University has continued their commitment toward the inclusion and safety of all transgender students.

An email was sent out to all students on Feb. 24 by Susie Brubaker-Cole, vice provost for Student Affairs, and Scott Vignos, director of Strategic Initiatives, to ensure protection and continuing support of all gender non-conforming students. The email mentioned several things, including the expansion of gender inclusive bathrooms and the availability of cultural resources throughout campus. . . . .

The Pride Center, one of the OSU cultural centers which provides programs and support services to the LGBTQ community, started leading the ongoing #illgowithyou campaign about a year ago, an important OSU initiative that ensures security for transgender students who feel threatened, especially in bathrooms or locker rooms. (Photo of "I'll Go With You Button") . . . .

A significant thing that the university itself has done to help with the inclusion of trans students is build transgender bathrooms, which are now located throughout campus. There are single-user restrooms in the dining hall and on every floor of the residence hall. OSU has provided students with a campus map of all 125 gender-inclusive bathrooms and facilities, and are still continuing the expansion of these bathrooms. . . .

For those who are exploring their identity or identify as queer or transgender, Counseling & Psychological Services offers group therapy for transgender students called TransForm, which is led by Beth Zimmermann. . . .

(Quoted from Jamie Chin, "OSU commits to continued inclusion of transgender students," Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 1, 4-5)

(See previous posts OSU 'gender inclusive' bathrooms hit front page of student newspaper (2/3/16) and Transgender bathroom politics today is similar to anti-gay politics of 50 years ago (5/23/16))

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trump Depression predicted by rise in debt and Schiller C.A.P.E. history

annotated chart of Federal debt as percentage of GDP chart Businessweek, Mar. 13-19, 2017, p. 9

PHOTO: Graph of the Federal Debt as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product real and projected from 1790-2046 shows how it ran up before World I, which preceded the Great Depression, and then the Federal debt rose again due to World War II spending. After World War II the U.S. continuously worked down its debt until the U.S. President Ronald Regan sold Congress on the popular Republican theory that growth would solve the debt problem created by his agenda of cutting the tax rate paid by corporations and individuals. When this theory was tried out and disproven by actual experience, the U.S. President Bill Clinton compromised with the Republican Congress to actually raise taxes, which lowered the Federal Debt before Republicans gained control of the White House and Congress once again made the false promise they would balance the budget and also reduce the debt. The debt increase slowed during President Obama's term, mostly because Republicans forced budget cuts to the favorite projects of the Democratic Party. However, today the debt is projected to climb again due to the promises made by the Republican President Donald Trump to cut taxes like Reagan did, and to similarly solve the consequential deficits with growth according by using the plans of the Republican Congress to use "dynamic scoring" for future effects of legislation on the debt, contrary to their balanced budget rules they imposed on President Obama. I added annotations to the original graph above published in a business magazine's opening remarks that said, "President Trump Promised to Eliminate National Debt in Eight Years. Good Luck with that his administration plans to balance the budget with what he says will be huge gains in economic growth. Trump likes to point out that Obama presided over a huge increase in the federal debt. But it made sense for the government to run deficits during and immediately after the 2007-09 recession. With its deep pockets and solid credit, the U.S. used that deficit spending to offset retrenchment by households and businesses, thus preventing an even deeper downturn. Now that the unemployment rate is below 5 percent, there's less scope for stimulus. At least that's the Federal Reserve's position: Even before Trump has revealed his budget, the Federal Open Market Committee has indicated it's on track to raise interest rates three times this year to prevent inflationary overheating of the economy." (Quoted from Peter Coy, "The Trump Deficits in Trump's Future," Businessweek, Mar. 13-19. 2017, p. 9)

President Trump is egotistically taking credit for the good stock market performance during his first days in office, even though he has done nothing except to make big promises about cutting taxes and eliminating government regulations. Given Trump's pretentious promises combined with some market valuation data discussed below, I am concerned that the U.S. economy is headed for a Great Trump Depression.

Some of the measures of stock market valuation are gloomily mentioned in the same issue by Suzanne Wooley, "You can't retire on the Trump bump: US stocks keep booming but may not deliver the long-term returns hope for," Bloomberg Businessweek, Mar. 13-19, 2017, p. 38-39, to make the case that Baby Boom Generation retirees, whose retirement checks depend on the performance of the stock market, need to heed the data linked to from the Home page of Robert J. Shiller Sterling Professor of Economics Yale University yale.edu accessed Mar. 12, 2017 -- "ONLINE DATA ROBERT SHILLER," www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm accessed Mar. 12, 2017. Specifically, Shiller's Webpage says this data documents "The data collection effort about investor attitudes that I have been conducting since 1989 has now resulted in a group of Stock Market Confidence Indexes produced by the Yale School of Management." Schiller's Webpage includes a spreadsheet containing the data used for C.A.P.E. analysis of start market valuations: Robert Shiller, "U.S. Stock Markets 1871-Present and CAPE Ratio," yale.edu accessed Mar. 12, 2017 (.xls format spreadsheet).

Commenting on the history of stock market performance, which many retiress have become dependent on for income, Business week said:

"One effect of that long rally is that stocks look relatively expensive. The average price-earnings ratio for stocks in the S&P 500 is 18.3, based on consensus estimates of 2017 earnings. That’s near the high end of the historical track record, says Fran Kinniry, a principal in the investment strategy group at Vanguard Group, which manages more than $4 trillion in assets. And when he looks at other valuation measures—such as those based on companies’ revenue or free cash flow—they’re all in the top 25 percent of historical readings. . . .

"Similarly, Shiller points to a measure he helped popularize, called the cyclically adjusted p-e ratio, or CAPE, which compares prices with the average of earnings over the past 10 years to smooth out the ups and downs of the business cycle. When the CAPE is high, Shiller has found annual returns will tend to be lower over a long period. A low CAPE augurs above-average returns. . .

"The average CAPE ratio for U.S. stocks over the past 100 years was about 17. It stands at 29.6 now—the only times it was higher were in 1929 and around the dot-com bubble, Shiller says. Those are worrisome precedents, but he’s quick to point out that during the dot-com episode the valuation multiple climbed to above 44 in 1999."

(Quoted from Suzanne Wooley, "You can't retire on the Trump bump: US stocks keep booming but may not deliver the long-term returns hope for," Bloomberg Businessweek, Mar. 13-19, 2017, p. 38-39 )

Coincidentally, in addition to the Businessweek coverage of stock valuations, a major retail stock broker's magazine, which they regularly mail to its customers, also cited the CAPE prediction of future stock market gains. (See "Is the stock market overvalued? The CAPE ratio may help you evaluate this on a long-term basis," Scwhab On Investing, Winter 2016, p. 8.)

(Also see "Cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio," From Wikipedia accessed Mar. 12, 2017 that says, "The cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio, commonly known as CAPE,[1] Shiller P/E, or P/E 10 ratio, is a valuation measure usually applied to the US S&P 500 equity market. It is defined as price divided by the average of ten years of earnings (moving average), adjusted for inflation.")

All I know, is that the future of the stock market is unpredictable, and retirees like me, who may not live a long enough time to ride out a big market drop, need to invest our retirement savings in a conservative manner, where we make sure we have enough stable income to survive in the event of a market drop, but also have enough invested to profit from any upside to the market and protect ourselves from inflation eating away any fixed income as it did circa 1980. In my case, I have a portion of my retirement account invested in a bond ladder of ten, 10-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities staggered at one year intervals so that the bonds don't all come due at once. These TIPS are like other U.S. Government treasury bonds, but they are adjusted annually by the CPI-U Consumer Price Index of inflation, and in the event of deflation, you are still guaranteed by the full fail and credit of the U.S. Government to get back your original amount plus the interest.

Finally, some loosely related notes written to myself. Also in the same issue, "Wealth where the living is easy," Businessweek, Mar. 13-19, p. 41, shows a map of the U.S. State where passive income earners took in an average of $20,000 per year. (Passive income is from interest, dividends, rents, etc., and not earned income obtained by working for a living. Of course, a place like Palm Beach, where many rich people live or retire to, the passive income is $176,000. Silicon Valley, where there is much wealth, raises the average for California, for example, Lost Altos Hills has average passive earnings of $124,000. The chart doesn't say if it is really average or median income, but in either case it is interesting, because it shows how few American families have enough passive income to retire on today. I expect this to change over time as family wealth accumulates and is passed on unequally to heirs, who will be like the rich families that existed in America before the Great Depression and were hated by everyone else because they were out of touch with the people who had to work for a living.

I am also guilty of being out of touch because years ago I paid off my home loan and therefore I am unaware of what people are paying for mortgages. (My mortgage from the 1980's had an interest rate of nearly 14% and this forced me to buy a condo instead of a house because I couldn't afford a house loan even with a good salary. Recently, I became envious of younger folks after looking up the "Monthly Interest Rate Survey (MIRS)" Federal Housing Finance Agency fhfa.gov accessed Mar. 2, 2017 and "Mortgage Rates Break Holding Pattern, Move Lower," freddiemac.com March 2, 2017 that said, "30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.10 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending March 2, 2017, down from last week when it averaged 4.16 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.64 percent." I now understand why young people are complaining about mortgage rates going up, but I still think four percent is a good bargain.

Another loosely related note concerns life expectancy, a key number in planning for retirement. Frepublicans are exploiting the rise in life expectancy as a reason to copy President Reagan, who increased the retirement age from 65 to 67 years old. Some in Congress are calling for raising the retirement age to 70 years old supposedly to keep "Social Security" and "Medicare" solvent, but I think it is really for the same reason Reagan did it, which is their hatred of these FDR and Johnson administration programs, which Republicans really want to eliminate entirely. One IRS life expectancy table ranges from 27.4 years at age 70 to 1.9 years at age 115 and over. (See Previous posts IRS IRA distribution substantially equal payments method (10/6/14) and Fixed amortization option for IRA distribution versus required minimum distributions (8/6/13))

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Affirmative action bake sale at OSU ignores business case for diversity

Thomas Kraemer affirmative action letter in OSU Barometer Mar. 13, 2017, p.14

PHOTO: Oregon State University student newspaper published my letter (Thomas Kraemer, "Diversity is necessary," OSU Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 14 or Thomas Kraemer, "Diversity is necessary," OSU Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 14 (issuu.com version)) in reaction to the OSU students who joined the national college protests against "affirmative action" by holding a bake sale that used reverse discrimination to determine what price they charged people. (See story by Joe Wolf, "Conservative students hold controversial bake sale," OSU Barometer, Feb. 27, 2017, p. 7 or Joe Wolf, "Conservative students hold controversial bake sale," OSU Barometer, issuu.com reader) Ironically, perhaps intentionally or not, the editor laid out the opinion page so that the headline for my letter "Diversity is necessary" was placed right above the headline for the next letter, "(Not) renaming buildings on campus," which was a letter in response to the story about erasing the names of slave owners from campus buildings described in the story by Erin Dose, "Certain campus building names cause controversy," Barometer, posted Mar. 6, 2017

A popular Republican talking point, which was started in the 1970's when racists Southern Democrats started to move to the Republican Party, is the Republican talking point asserting that Republicans are not racists and do not discriminate, but conservatives are now the victims of "reverse discrimination" caused by "Affirmative Action" programs, which, in fact, had been legislated by the U.S. Congress and a few companies had been ordered by a court of law to comply with by using a quota based hiring system designed to remedy discriminatory hiring practices.

It is a talking point that resonates positively with many people who are in the majority and feel resentment toward being passed over for hiring or promotion by a woman (who ironically are in the majority) or a member of a minority, such as a black person. I acknowledge that it is hard for anybody to be passed over for a job or promotion because the process is very subjective and it is rarely obvious why somebody is picked for a job as the better candidate by the employer. As a former employer, I know firsthand how often there are multiple candidates who are equally good, making it hard to decide between them.

The legal term "Affirmative Action" is often erroneously used when referring to voluntary "Diversity Programs" that employers often choose to implement for the business purpose of getting a more diverse workforce instead of for for compliance with a court order to remedy past discriminatory hiring.

For example, some conservative OSU students held an affirmative action bake sale that determined prices they charge by using "reverse discrimination" based on your skin color, which echoed the popular Republican talking point about being a "victim" of it. The student newspaper described the bake sale as follows:

"Two weeks ago, a bake sale was held in the SEC Plaza in which the prices of goods were determined by the buyer's race or ethnicity. This event was put on by Turning Point USA, a conservative activist group with chapters on college campuses across the country, to argue against the use of affirmative action to make distinctions between white and minority students in college admissions." (Quoted from oe Wolf, "Conservative students hold controversial bake sale," OSU Barometer, Feb. 27, 2017, p. 7 and Joe Wolf, "Consrvative students hold controversial bake sale," OSU Barometer, issuu.com reader)

Another student responded negatively to the bake sale in the student newspaper: Jim Gouveia, "Letters: Do your research first," Barometer, Feb. 13, 2017.

The original story of the bake sale prompted me to write the following letter in response:

The conservative students who held an affirmative action bake sale (The Baro, Feb. 27) appear not to understand the business reasons why a 1954 OSU EE graduate, John Young, and his boss Dave Packard wanted more diversity at both OSU and at Hewlett-Packard.

David Packard, cofounder of HP and a lifelong conservative Republican who also served in a Cabinet positon at the request of the Republican U.S. President Richard Nixon, was proud that HP had never discriminated and therefore was not constrained by any court-ordered affirmative action hiring quotas designed to remedy past acts of discrimination, as were some other American companies.

Instead of resting on his laurels, Packard set an objective for his managers to hire a diverse workforce that numerically reflected HP's customers who were of all races and nationalities from around the world, because it would help grow business globally by making it easier to meet the needs of all HP customers.

To accomplish Packard's objective and still hire only the best people without imposing artificial hiring quotas, HP managers expanded the number of colleges from where they typically recruited graduates, such as OSU and Stanford University where HP had hired many White-American male college graduates.

Over three decades, I witnessed the positive business results due to HP's more diverse workforce when I managed engineering research in America, Germany and China.

Diversity at OSU helps all students get a better and more global education, which is necessary today to get the best jobs after graduation.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Diversity is necessary," OSU Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 14 or Thomas Kraemer, "Diversity is necessary," OSU Barometer, Mar. 13, 2017, p. 14 (issuu.com version))

On a related note, OSU students are also participating in the popular campus activism that objects to university buildings being named after racists and then the activists demand the buildings be renamed. This type of liberal social justice activism resonates with many minorities. Unfortunately, what gets ignored in the process is the history of how the buildings were named and used over time, for example, if they were named after University Presidents, and also missing is any discusion of the history of how the social construction of racism has changed over the years. In my opinion, it would be better to leave the names alone and use them as a history lesson for students.

A more embarrassing part of the history of building names lies in the fact that at many universities the way a building gets named is by how much money you contributed or by the equivalent political contribution made by a politician or university president to get the money required ot build the building. At OSU, only a few buildings, such as Reser Stadium, have been named after a big donor, perhaps because most OSU alumni are too poor to donate the tens of millions of dollars to OSU required to name a building. See the following links:

Another popular talking point of Republicans, related to building names discussions, is to denounce university people for being much too "politically correct" and as a result enforcing things silly social customs on campus. As somebody who has spent much time in both academia and industry, I can see how many people can get irritated by the social customs in either place, which in my mind is a general problem with any social group you are alien to or don't agree with their customs. Academics can be pedantic and obstructionists when it comes to getting anything done for real, but industry people can likewise be obstreperous and destructive to other people when they are unwilling to slow down and see the implications of their actions. This type of behavior doesn't make the customs of either group right or wrong, because these different approaches by multiple groups of people are usually required for a breakthrough in understanding can occur.

Some dismiss being open to others as being "political correctness," but other people see it as just being polite, for example in a typical university social group. As a result, it is easy to be offended when somebody is not polite or you perceive it that way, even if you don't intend it that way. This has led to the newly popular idea of a "microaggression" on campus. For example of this, see the student newspaper article by Sydney McHale, "Students encounter microaggressions," Barometer, Mar. 6, 2017, which says, "According to Jason Dorsette, the OSU associate director of Diversity and Cultural Engagement, 'Microaggressions are discriminatory incidents that come from well-intended people that do not have the historical background that what they're saying or doing is wrong. They are unintentional racist or discriminating instances.'"

It is ironic that that I have used the politeness argument for years as a way to describe "political correctness" as just an attempt to avoid microaggressions, but after having done this, my favorite comic strip characters showed how the goal of "politeness" can also be misused. (For example, the recent comic strip series by Scott Adams of "Dilbert," which shows how Dilbert's company politeness policy, which forbids employees from turning and walking away before somebody has finished talking, leads to humorous and illogical consequences.