Heartbreaking: This Elderly Womans Family Thinks Shes Lying About The Fact That ALF Is A Janitor At Her Nursing Home And Sometimes Bullies Her

Between the loneliness, the health issues, and the loss of independence, life for residents of eldercare facilities can often be demoralizing. And it can be even more demoralizing when one’s most vital support systems fail them in their time of need, which is why this story is so devastating: This elderly woman’s family thinks she’s lying about the fact that ALF is a janitor at her nursing home and that he sometimes bullies her.

Wow. It really breaks your heart to hear stories like this.

Since moving into Heritage Manor Nursing Center four months ago, 92-year-old Virginia Robkin has been receiving regular—and often upsetting—visits from a custodian named ALF, an extraterrestrial creature with a sardonic and twisted sense of humor. Robkin frequently calls her family members to complain about the janitor, who has inexplicably taken a cruel interest in her and often finds little ways to harass or intimidate her, like shrieking his grotesque alien mating call right into her ear when she’s trying to sleep, but her complaints fall on deaf ears. No matter what concerns she raises, whether it’s about ALF putting her treasured belongings on a high shelf so she can’t reach them, purposefully neglecting to restock her toilet paper, or eating her beloved cat, Sprinkles, right in front of her, Robkin’s cries for help are always immediately dismissed by her family as senile delusions, despite the fact that she is still of sharp mind in her old age.

“When I told my daughter, Gloria, what was happening, she acted like I was losing my marbles and tried to get me to go to a doctor, even though I showed her proof that ALF works here,” said Robkin, explaining that she had previously linked her daughter to the staff page on the nursing home’s website, on which ALF is indeed listed, yet her daughter hadn’t even bothered to look. “She thinks I’m just being an old racist coot and calling my Haitian nurse ALF, but I would never say anything derogatory about Josué. ALF works here, and he bullies me, and it saddens me that no one will believe me.”

“Just this morning I called my son, David, and told him about how last night ALF came into my room while I was sleeping and whispered, ‘I’m gonna fuck up your tub, bitch,’ before going into the bathroom, shaving himself head to toe, and stuffing all his fur down my shower drain,” she continued. “And David hung up on me! He thought I was just rambling and got fed up. And now I don’t know who to turn to for help with my tub, because when I brought up the issue with the facility manager here, guess who he sent to unclog the drain? That’s right, ALF. I just feel so helpless.”

Sadly, Robkin’s complaints about ALF have seemingly affected her family’s willingness to engage with her, as it has been over a month since any outside visitors have come to see her. And, unfortunately, this isolation has only emboldened ALF to behave more aggressively toward her, as he recently woke Robkin up in the middle of the night to let her know that when he finishes the spaceship he’s nearly done building, he is going to take her to his home planet of Melmac and sell her to a zoo where ALF’s “thousands of children” will go every day to throw firecrackers at her.

Tragically, stories like Robkin’s are increasingly common in America, as all too often elderly individuals are neglected by loved ones who see them as burdens. We can only hope that Robkin’s family realizes that she’s not lying before ALF takes his bullying any further, because nobody—especially not a woman in her nineties—deserves to be treated this way.

Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/heartbreaking-elderly-womans-family-thinks-shes-ly-7191

4 strategies to avoid #resistance burnout

Image: vicky leta / mashable

I was listening to The Read recently — it’s my favorite podcast — and I was struck by co-host Kid Fury’s observations about reaching the end of the year and feeling tired. 

I posted how I felt on Instagram: “Can’t add one more plan tired. Hard to get excited about exciting things tired. Can’t project, assume, or read minds tired. I’m letting myself be tired, be imperfect, be how I am. It is time to hibernate and make meaning of this year, understand the lessons.”

Five hundred people gave it a heart within a few hours. People reached out to me to say they are also tired — exhausted, really. Falling out in meetings, losing things, fighting with loved ones, letting hopelessness have our tongues. 

I am a social justice facilitator, practicing and teaching a methodology called Emergent Strategy. The goal is to learn how we do justice work that is adaptive, focuses on the small things that make up all large systems, and prioritizes critical connections over critical mass. I am also a visionary fiction writer (part of the Octavia’s Brood team) and a pleasure activist, which means I believe pleasure is an important measure of freedom, and that we need to make justice the most pleasurable experience we can have. 

And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. 

And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. But I am still going. Movements for social and environmental justice are still moving forward. 

Which gets me curious about how we are surviving, how we are generating energy to move forward in 2018 when everything is heavy and everything hurts. 

What do we do? 

The first thing is to give ourselves lots of room and respect for whatever we have done. It got us this far. So, shout outs to alcohol, sugar, sex, and weed, which have been doing the work of comforting and numbing millions. After the 2016 election, drinking definitely became one of my coping mechanisms for that “They all want my death” feeling that has become daily life. 

I know the newness of feeling this every day is as much an indication of my privilege as it is of political change; things aren’t getting worse, they are getting unveiled. Whatever I didn’t see before this moment is a sign that I was somehow benefiting from not seeing it. It feels worse nonetheless. 

But we need to be careful about numbing. The long-term impacts of numbing move us away from the very aliveness we are fighting for, that erotic level of presence, alertness, and feeling our miraculous existence in real time. Audre Lorde taught us that, “In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”  

I wanted to offer some strategies beyond numbing that have helped me protect my aliveness. I invite you to practice these throughout 2018.

1. Reconnect with our movement ancestors. We are not the first to be in impossible conditions. And what we know is that we have survived, that our ancestors found ways to survive, to be in dignity and resistance. Focus on ancestors of your own lineage, knowing that every lineage on earth has individuals and groups who have left lessons behind. For me this year has been lit by the north star of Harriet Tubman. You might call on freedom fighters like Berta Cáceres or Bobby Sands — there are so many who inspire. Ancestors can and should humble us. 

2. Tune in to the three Gs every day: gratitude, good news, and genius. If you look, all three are within reach.

a) Start and/or end the day with gratitude. It’s a gorgeous world; pay attention to the beauty, the connection, the generosity and growth.

b) Read between the lines and find the good news. It’s always there, but it might be very small. For me, it’s often in the news of what movements for social and environmental justice are doing to resist. Boost it, grow it with your attention.

c) Our continued survival is actually a long, iterative practice of collective genius. Pay attention to the people and organizations who are doing more than reacting to the daily news or pulling each other down. Tune into the work of the Movement for Black Lives, the Women’s March, #MeToo, Cooperation Jackson, Movement Generation, #ourpowerpr, Mi Gente. These initiatives are attempting audacious, visionary, and difficult work that relies on the genius that arises from people working together across difference to address the challenges and opportunities of their real lives.

3. That thing about putting on your oxygen mask before helping others? It’s real. It’s not like other masks that hide your true face from others, which is an important distinction here. You don’t need to put anything over your truth right now to cover the emotional rollercoaster of being a human who is paying attention. But you do need to take care of yourself at a material level. Soothe without numbing, rest without guilt, hydrate to replenish your foundation, and use your body while there is still miracle in it. Hibernate: turn inward, get still, write down what you have learned from surviving the last year as well as what has been liberated within you, and what you are ready to grow. 

4. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t remind y’all that an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away. Remember that your body is literally wired to feel good, thread with nerves that communicate pleasure and let you know what to move toward. And you can choose between the orgasm and the orgasmic — do a massage exchange with friends, eat delicious home-cooked meals, watch comedy shows. There are so many ways to turn up your aliveness.

None of these practices are small or trite. We are in the worst of times right now. If you need to be convinced to care for your body, mind, and spirit so that you can care for your community and this planet, let’s just review the past 12 months. 

There was a period of denial and grief for many of us. Perhaps you also spent some time under a blanket, wondering why our species is so self-sabotaging and embarrassing? Maybe you too called friends to discuss where you could run to, and realized, again, that there was no place far enough, no place beyond the reach of the United States?

Those of us with an intersectional analysis of our current situation know that every uphill battle we’ve been fighting is at least twice as steep. We are looking ahead at battles around the tax plan, net neutrality, protecting the planet as a livable planet for our species, resisting a police force encouraged to unleash increased violence on our devastated vulnerable communities. All while watching 45 play nuclear roulette with North Korea on Twitter.

For those of us working to create social change, 2017 was a wild year. We take our whiplashed necks and try to keep up the pace as we run from protest to petition to planning meeting. We have held some lines, we have shown up and said no to racist bans and efforts to strip us of hard-won rights, and we have reached for each other. We’ve been surprised and excited as scientists marched and national parks workers used Twitter to resist fascist policy making.

And, in our exhaustion, we have sometimes turned on each other. Interpersonal beef drains organizational resources. Tactical differences become landmines. Places where we could learn together instead become battlegrounds that play out on social media. We long for something different but are stretched too thin to practice new approaches. We want each other to be perfect and to be transparent about our flaws. We are punitive and transformative in the same breath. 

We are in a fight for our survival and there’s no turning away from it, no turning back. 2017 was a reckoning, an unveiling. An embarrassment, yes, but it’s honest. And now we are at a very real risk of becoming too exhausted to continue our fight, our journey. 

Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” 

Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” I wrestle with these words all the time, because I believe in freedom, and I believe my body is a crucial part of the fight for freedom. So I interpret these words through my work. I do not rest in terms of how I work. I tirelessly show up for movements I believe in, to hold planned or unexpected hard conversations and mediations, to invite transformation in the face of frustration. I tirelessly seek out old and new ways of moving through our current paradigm and into a viable future. 

But when it comes to my body, I rest. I rest in myriad ways that allow me to show up fully for each facilitation. I ensure that I have quiet time each evening, a bath when there’s a tub, at least seven hours of sleep each night. I want to give us more permission to rest our bodies so that we don’t burn out our spirits and minds in our lifelong commitment to liberation.

It is in that spirit that I invite you to honor your ancestors and remember that they believed in you before your first breath. They believed you could generate gratitude, uplift good news, contribute to genius. Put on your oxygen mask and open to the pleasurable experiences of life. This is our moment to shape.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/12/resistance-burn-out-activism-new-year/

6 Signs That Disney Is Trying To Take Over The World

Proven fact: About 40 percent of all your happy memories have been brought to you by the Walt Disney Company. With almost a century’s worth of wholesome entertainment, Disney has become one of the most powerful — and more importantly, most beloved — brands in existence. But behind the happy Technicolor facade, the Mouse is cooking up megalomaniac schemes even their own copyrighted supervillains would admire. Between constantly developing invasive technologies, assimilating competitors, and squashing governments like Jiminy Crickets, soon Disney will rule all media with a white-gloved iron fist. The Micktatorship is coming, and it might not be as magical as we’d like.

6

They Won’t Stop Spying On Your Children

As surprising as it is to adults who still wear Minnie Mouse sweaters, Disney’s target market remains to be children. Kids are the most prized commercial demographic of them all, embodying the holy marketing trinity of being impulsive, easily manipulated, and clumsy. That’s why we’ve created additional protections, laws, and regulations that specify that kids can’t receive the same invasive spying us adults are subjected to. But the petty laws of man have no sway over the House of Mouse, which is constantly being accused of illegally and aggressively mining minor’s private information like it’s booger-covered gold.

Disney.wikia.comThe name is cute. Less cute is the fact that they probably know Hannah’s Social Security number, too.

In the past, Disney used illegal internet trackers called “zombie cookies,” so called because they keep following you everywhere, pop back up after being destroyed, and we were collectively bored of them by the early 2010s. It did so through a widget company called Clearspring Technologies, which clearly picked its name based on how good it would sound during Senate hearings. At the request of their clients, Clearspring stalked children’s internet surfing and harvested “viewing habits, gender, age, race, education level, geographic location, sexual preference, what the users like to read, home address, phone number, health condition, and more,” which is enough info to make Disney more on the ball than an uncomfortable percentage of actual parents.

Then, in 2017, Disney itself got sued when it was discovered that 42 of their most popular apps targeted at children were in clear violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), containing malicious trackers which Disney used to sell private info to advertisers. Disney countered by saying they “look forward” to going to court, as “the complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles” — the misunderstanding being that they think Disney gives a fuck about COPPA or principles.

Linda72/PixabayThey dont maintain a pool of voters to not get their way.

But why limit yourself to stalking kids on the internet when technology now allows you to physically track children around like they’re wayward house cats? In 2013, Disney introduced the MyMagic+ band to Disney World Orlando — a colorful microchipped wristband that serves as a visitor’s ticket, room key, and even digital wallet. Not only that, but the bands also allow the visitors to have a much more personalized interaction with the park, as they can recommend rides with short queues, tell Goofy it’s your birthday, and let you know which princesses have the fewest divorced dads circling them. And while children might be blown away by the kind of magic that lets the animatronic seagull from The Little Mermaid address them by name, that’s only because Disney is constantly slurping up all the information that the band collects, mostly without parental permission.

Though the bands were a massive success, Disney has chosen not to expand the trackers to their other resorts, acknowledging that the tech is a bit outdated. Instead, the company is experimenting with smartphone apps, which can achieve everything the tracking band does. And smartphones stay in kid’s pockets long after they’ve left a park. Speaking of which …

5

Their Theme Parks Are Practically Running The Cities Around Them

In order to keep on the right side of the law (but the wrong side of morality), Disney has obtained a lot more political sway than you might expect from a cartoon kingdom. But Disney also has real little kingdoms dotted all over the world: its resorts. And with these fiefdoms come the usual politics, like war, corruption, and the occasional peasant uprising.

The two great hospitality monoliths in the U.S. are a) casinos and b) Disney resorts. And the Mouse despises gambling, as it goes against the Disney values of having adults spend all their money and free time on taking their kids to see Moana for the 17th time. The company won’t even allow casinos on its ships, despite gambling being the most popular cruise pastime besides contracting gonorrhea.

Disney Cruise LineUntil Goofy learns to run a craps table, I want no part of this.

So how does Disney fight this greedy industry of empty pockets and jumbo shrimps? By being the champion of the people, of course. In 2017, Disney spent $650,000 lobbying to change the Florida constitution. If successful, Floridians would have to go vote on whether they approve of any new casinos being built in the state. A victory for democracy, surely, allowing the people to decide how far they want to live from a row of soiled slot stools.

But Disney isn’t interested in getting its locals the rights to vote; it wants to control exactly when, how, and what they can vote on. Only a year prior, Disney was exposed for aggressively lobbying to prevent Floridians from being able to vote on a healthcare measure that would cost the corporation money. And during the 2012 election, the corporation spent $2.5 million on getting right-wing politicians in power, many of whom were anti-casino and all of whom were pro-Disney-tax-cuts. The result? An amazing drop in crime … only around Disney resorts, with a slight increase everywhere else, as cops are busy arresting teens for smoking pot near Space Mountain instead of investigating gun violence. At this point, Disney essentially owns Central Florida like it’s the only steel mill in town. It even boasts being responsible for getting 1 out of every 50 Floridians a job — mostly in local government, it seems.

Florida Development CommissionAnd more importantly, Florida welcomes their money …”

On the other coast, Anaheim, California — locally referred to as “Disneyheim” — suffers from the same overlord issues. Disneyland is nestled inside Anaheim Resort District, its own little perfectly landscaped utopia … paid for mostly by the city itself. Since settling there, Disney has managed to finagle over a billion dollars in tax exemptions, subsidies, and other incentives by bribing city officials — or as they called it after the ’70s, donations and “personal friendships.” That’s a billion dollars Anaheim couldn’t spend on its citizens, who are suffering from a serious crime and homelessness epidemic among those not lucky enough to live in the shadow of the giant mouse ears.

But the times are a-changing. During the 2016 election, the people of Anaheim backed a decidedly anti-Disney council majority, which has already dealt the corporation a few heavy blows, like blocking a $300 million proposal for the city to build a streetcar network which would mostly make it easier to bus tourists to Disneyland. Soon, Disney might have to start actually paying for their own boondoggles. Which reminds us …

4

Disney Will Invest Billions In Things Nobody Cares About

Did you know that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been having terrible ratings? Since its first episode, the weird superhero-adjacent TV show has only been able to hang on to one-sixth of its viewership. So despite a generally well-received fourth season, ABC decided to cancel the money pit. That was a decision Disney, which owns ABC (of course), respectfully disagreed with, forcing the network to keep losing money on its mediocre Marvel property. There isn’t a clear-cut reason Disney would pull rank on a failing TV show. It can’t be the money, because Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t making any. That’s what Star Wars spinoffs are for.

Marvel TelevisionPictured: The Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast … probably. Were trusting Google on this one.

But it’s important to remember that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only Marvel show on terrestrial TV that Disney owns (all the others are Fox’s, and more on that later). Therefore, it’s the only thing keeping the franchise warm for your Netflix-illiterate mom and dad in the 2.5 weeks between new Marvel movies. To that effect, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is less a show than a really expensive advertisement, or a disease vector keeping Marvel Fever’s nerd mortality rate at its peak.

But propping up a dying series for the hell of it is nothing compared to the financial sinkhole that is Pandora — The World Of Avatar. Based on a very profitable movie people forgot existed five minutes after leaving theaters, Disney spent five years and half a billion dollars making a boring blue planet come to life. Of course, this was under the assumption that Avatar would still be relevant today, before James Cameron postponed the sequels by a decade and Disney realized that half of its visitors wouldn’t have been alive yet to be disappointed by the first movie. So the finished product was less an Avatar cash-in and more a generic weird alien jungle. Disney even decided not to include any of the movie’s memorable cast, like Retired Guile, Snagglepuss Smurfette, or Man.

20th Century FoxAt least they didnt try to adapt this into the worlds creepiest FastPass.

When Pandora finally opened in May 2017, early reviews were great, but the novelty is quickly wearing off. Yet despite the public responding with a resounding “meh,” Disney greenlit the construction of two additional attractions and a themed restaurant in the area. Because it doesn’t matter what we think. Pandora Land is happening because Disney wants it to happen. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is staying because Disney wants it to stay. You will think what Disney lets you think. You will go where Disney lets you go. And you will only know the sweet freedom of death when Disney lets you die. Which will happen only after you visit Pandora. Now only $99 for a one-day pass.

3

Disney’s Video Game Division Was A Tornado Of Hubris

While it might seem that Disney can make anything happen (which sounded a lot less ominous a few paragraphs ago), it does have one white whale it’s failed to spear: video games. After years of letting others profit from its licenses, in 2007, Disney finally decided to cut out the middleman and start up its own game company. To that end, it started snatching up developers like they were part of a Steam sale, expecting to simply ride into the industry on a wave of talent and money. There was only one issue: Disney don’t game.

Virgin Interactive EntertainmentAs anyone who broke a controller over their video games can angrily attest.

When it comes to generating massive profits from movies, TV, theme parks, or toys, Disney has turned itself into such a fine-tuned predictor that it might as well be staffed by precogs. But they didn’t have the same auto-success formula when it came to video games, which meant they would have to take a few risks — a word that hadn’t been uttered at Disney since they recklessly decided to start making movies in color. To make things even more complicated for their developers, they mixed their hesitation with their tradition of being difficult to please, disregarding the fact that they were now just jerking themselves off and couldn’t settle on which hand to use.

As a result, Disney had set their new branch up to fail. They bought gaming studios known for making innovation-heavy indie darlings and had them make family friendly puzzlers, then switch mid-development to mobile games, then to free-to-play, stopping short of telling them to develop new IPs for the burgeoning cup-and-ball platform.

Square EnixSpoilers for the next Kingdom Hearts game.

After a string of flops and even more cancellations, Disney did the only natural thing a company with billions in profits, a talented group of developers, and all the time in the world to get it right can do: They shut it all down. By 2016, Disney had sunk all the companies it had bought. It even shuttered LucasArts, firing everyone and just keeping the name (because it meant something before Disney got its hands on it). It went back to selling its licenses to real game companies, so they at least stand a chance of making a decent game and the corporation can go back to bossing them around without any risk.

Which brings us to our next scheme …

2

Disney Is Using Star Wars To Extort The Media

Were you looking forward to The Last Jedi? Did you book the tickets months in advance? Did you flood your Facebook feed with Finn/Poe ship memes? Are you going to see it twice? Thrice? You’re in the theater right now, aren’t you? Well, good news! Disney noticed your love and devotion to Star Wars, and decided to use it to bully movie theaters and journalists into doing their bidding. Who ever said fandom doesn’t have power?

Because of Star Wars‘ unparalleled popularity and rabid fandom, Disney realized it could get the most out of its franchise by holding it ransom. For the privilege of screening The Last Jedi, Disney handed movie theaters a strict list of demands as if it was waiting for the pizzas and helicopter to arrive. Among the most stringent were its demand that every theater fork over 65 percent of its ticket profits to Disney, the biggest cut theaters have ever seen. Venues also had to promise to show the movie for four weeks without interruption, or else be fined another 5 percent in “Pay us, we’re Disney” tax.

LucasfilmAt least they backed off the demands for themed soda fountains.

While a four-week mandate and a mobster-level taste of the action doesn’t deter anyplace with a couple of IMAX screens and backroom full of lightsaber-colored M&Ms to shill (they’re nothing but regular M&Ms with the brown ones picked out), such demands are ruinous for small-town theaters that only have a single screen. Many of them had no choice but to not screen The Last Jedi, as it would have to count on everyone and their cattle seeing the movie several times in a row to turn a profit. So if you had to leave your moisture farm and travel several parsecs to get some porg action, you know who to blame.

But movie theaters aren’t the only ones suffering from the tyrannical yoke of the Empire’s distributors. Disney also tried to use Star Wars to quiet dissent among the rabble-rousers, i.e. journalists. Remember Disney’s shady dealings with the city of Anaheim from two bathroom breaks ago? It was The LA Times that broke that story, running a whole series exposing Disney’s corruption. As a response, Disney decided to punish the paper by banning its reviewers from attending screenings of The Last Jedi. When confronted about this, Disney reps simply stated that they would not play nice with a paper which “showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards,” specifically the part that warns that snitches get stitches.

LucasfilmAnd you do not want to get shanked with one of these.

It took almost the whole of film journalism to temporarily grow a backbone and refuse to review the movie for Disney to back down from its petty tyranny. Because at this point, nothing less than a whole industry can still stand up against the Mouse. And Disney has found a way to fix that, too.

1

Disney Can’t Stop Buying Up Other Companies

Like bossy kindergartners wearing princess dresses, Disney tries to control everything: the press, entire cities, even our children. But that is nothing compared to the zeal with which the corporation is taking over all of the entertainment industry. In the last decade, Disney has already vacuumed up Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, creating a near monopoly on the concept of arrested development. And they might soon own that show too, as Disney is laying siege to its last remaining rival titan of pop culture: 21st Century Fox. Since 2017, Disney and Fox have engaged in on-again, off-again talks about one evil monolith being taken over the other evil monolith’s TV and movie departments, leaving Fox with only its two greatest tentpoles: sports bloopers and fearmongering.

Pixar… And with Pixar, theyve got a pretty strong foothold in that, too.

By absorbing Fox, Disney would obtain the last piece of a puzzle that looks like Goofy throwing a guy wearing a Wolverine shirt over a barrel, as 21st Century Fox owns literally every scrap of Marvel (X-Men and Fantastic Four) and Star Wars (A New Hope) that Disney hasn’t devoured already. Also, did we mention Fox owns Avatar and its upcoming sequels? We’re running seriously low on red string and thumbtacks over here.

ESPNAt least they dont control sports yet (except yes, of course they do).

While owning all of Marvel and Star Wars would do wonders for Bob Iger’s OCD, Fox has something a lot more valuable which Disney wants: TV shows. Buying Fox means getting their gloves on the entire back catalog of The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, and more. With Fox and Pixar in its pocket, Disney would basically own most of Western animation, leaving anti-Disney people with few things to binge on besides South Park and old anime — otherwise known as a 4chan Friday night.

Studio GhibliExcept not all anime, because guess who distributes the good stuff.

And so we finally arrive at Disney’s next big step in entertainment world domination: streaming. As a business model, streaming relies on “nostalgia programming,” which is coincidentally also the term for how Disney brainwashed us into giving a crap about The Lion King, even though we haven’t seen the movie in 25 years. By 2019, Disney will have removed all of its content from Netflix so it can start its own streaming service. And between its half-dozen geek movie franchises, Fox’s TV shows, and its own century’s worth of content, it will without a doubt blow all the competition out of the water.

But this isn’t the only way Disney intends to burrow itself into the digital age. For years now, the corporation has been quietly dominating the under-12s internet with what is now called the Disney Digital Network, a string of Disney-only blogs that look like if China’s propaganda arm was run by BuzzFeed. Now it’s ready to go after the real internet prize: YouTube commenters. In 2014, it bought Maker Studios, which hosted a network of over 60,000 YouTube channels, including massively popular ones like Epic Rap Battles Of History. Disney then gutted and absorbed the studio into its new network, assimilating its 1,000 most worshiped streamers into the Disney brand, luring their massive Gen Z viewership to the Disney side of the internet like some weird reverse pedophile ring.

Which, if you’re keeping count, only leaves social media, surely a platform too chaotic and under-performing for Disney to bother with, right? Wrong. Disney has already shown a great interest in acquiring Twitter, the favorite social media app of comedians and Nazis. And the app has been struggling for a while now, and will most likely be sold off to the highest bidder. Which will be Disney. It will always be Disney. It’s only a matter of time before every moment you goof off at work, every minute you sit on the toilet scrolling through your phone, every weekend you waste binging on a show you’ve seen a million times before, you’ll get it in the face by the squiggly D.

There is no escape.

Cedric Voets really wished he’d gone on the teacup ride one last time before writing this article. You can find more of his commie ravings on Twitter.

We know you want a pair of those darn Mouse ears. Here’s a 12-pack.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25410_6-signs-that-disney-trying-to-take-over-world.html

Get Ready To Say Goodbye To The Big Bang Theory!

Prepare to say farewell to one of the most popular sitcoms on TV right now!

The Big Bang Theory — which is currently in the middle of season 11 — may be coming to an end by the end of next season, if star Johnny Galecki is to be believed.

During a panel at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California on Saturday afternoon, Galecki told the media at hand that the show was going to come to an end by the end of season 12!!!

He said:

“The only manner in which the cast has discussed wrapping [The Big Bang Theory] has been that we’re all going to be very sad when that day comes. But I think at this point everyone’s very comfortable with 12 seasons being a good time to go home and see our families.”

Inneresting!!!

In an even more interesting turn of events, Young SheldonCBSBig Bang Theory prequel spinoff — was just announced for a second season in renewal, too!

Photo: This Dog Maternity Shoot Is Too Damn Beautiful!

CBS President Kelly Kahl said in a statement (below):

“Young Sheldon has made a huge impact on our schedule in the short time it’s been on the air. While the show’s DNA is clearly rooted in The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon has staked out its own place in the TV universe with a unique creative tone, brilliant writing and a gifted multi-generational cast. We can’t wait to see Chuck, Steve, Jim and Todd’s vision for how the Cooper family deals with Sheldon growing a year older…and smarter.”

Wow!

What do U think, Perezcious readers?!

Let us know in the comments (below)!!!

[Image via Dave Starbuck/Future Image/WENN.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-01-06-the-big-bang-theory-ending-season-12-johnny-galecki-quotes-tv-news

Using drones to build the ambulance fleet of the future

It’s that time of year again. Sleigh bells overhead and our jolly, bearded benefactor wafting gifts down the chimney to eagerly awaiting hands. We’ve heard every version of this tale. Except, perhaps, the variant that is currently playing out in East Africa. In the funny way that magic tales and science fiction sometimes become reality, if you swap out sleigh bells for drones and gifts for emergency medical supplies, you’ve got the real world tale of Zipline, a company delivering 20% of national blood supply via drone in Rwanda. The Sequoia and A16Z-backed company recently announced it would be expanding operations to neighboring Tanzania.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S. the drone sleigh bells are few and far between, hampered by our aviation regulatory framework, which has not kept pace. In October the Trump Administration signed an executive order giving local governments more leeway to conduct unmanned drone tests. The order allows local governments and communities to work with industry to design their own trial programs and apply to the Federal Aviation Administration for waivers to the existing rules. “Our nation will move faster, fly higher, and soar proudly toward the next great chapter of American aviation” said Trump. The direction was the right one. But there has been little follow up and the rate of progress remains lightyears behind other countries, prompting Amazon and Google to head overseas to the UK and Australia to conduct drone tests the past few years.

In an interview for Flux podcast I sat down with Keller Rinaudo, the CEO of Zipline, for awide-ranging conversation about government policy, innovation and the future of autonomous infrastructure. We got into how he thinks the U.S. government has become ossified and what it would take to become a leader in this space. He also shares how he’s built a successful partnership with UPS, dealt with naysayers, and how he thinks about risk. At the heart of the Zipline story is real-world grit, a dedicated team, cutting-edge technology, and a government bold enough to take risks. An excerpt of the conversation is published below.

Let’s start with a quick overview of what Zipline is doing. Essentially instant delivery for life-saving healthcare?

KR: That’s a great explanation. Zipline is looking to build instant delivery for the planet and our mission is to deliver urgent medical products to people in difficult to reach and remote places. Today we’re operating at national scale in Rwanda. We’re delivering a significant percentage of the national blood supply on a day to day basis and we allow hospitals across the country to get instant access to any blood product that a patient needs on either a routine or an emergency basis.

AMLG: I read that by this past summer of 2017 you’d climbed to 20 deliveries per facility per week, is that right?

KR: That sounds right on average. It depends on the size of the hospital. There are certain hospitals that are smaller and hospitals that are larger but around 20 deliveries per hospital per week. The most important thing to realize is the hospitals we serve, they only receive blood deliveries via the Zipline system and most of them are receiving multiple deliveries a day.

AMLG: So you’ve built seven of 21 planned facilities in Rwanda which is your first market right? 

KR: We’re actually at eight. That number is changing as we’re adding hospitals to the system every day. In the long run our goal is to be serving all healthcare facilities across Rwanda. Something like 40 hospitals. Then there are an additional 400 health centers that don’t do blood transfusions but do need access to a whole host of medical products that are hard to get access to. In the long run the vision of the Rwandan government is to put each of their 13 million citizens within a 15 minute delivery of any essential medical product they could need.

AMLG: In terms of how it works — the staff in these clinics, they text a distribution center where the workers pack the medications into a box that they then load it into the Zip. Then it takes off and goes and airdrops the payload and returns to the distribution center without having landed at all?

KR: Yeah. Although sometimes what we do sounds a bit weird or like science fiction, people who come and see it are always shocked by the simplicity of it. The surprising thing about this system particularly when you’re talking to doctors who are using it on a day to day basis, it’s so simple. It’s like sending a text message and then instantly receiving the product that you needed to treat a patient or even save a patient’s life. We’re doing that using autonomous electric vehicles. They weigh about 13 kilograms. They fly at about 100 kilometers an hour. There’s really no human involved during the delivery of it. From the moment the vehicle leaves our distribution center to the moment it returns, it’s making all of its own decisions. It’s flying itself to the hospital delivering the product and then returning home. When we deliver it’s important to know we don’t land the plane. The plane is essentially coming within 30 feet of the ground and then dropping the payload in — we call it an air brake — you can kind of think it as a simple cost-effective parachute that ensures that the package falls right on the doorstep of the hospital in a gentle magical way.

AMLG: I’ve watched the video — it looks like a little red shoe box. So you fill it with sachets of blood and there’s a QR code so the vehicle automatically knows exactly where to go. Then it parachutes down in a gentle, magical way?

KR: Yes and you can actually catch the package. If they’re standing out there a lot of times they’ll catch the package because it’s so precise. We can deliver into about two to three parking spaces. The experience for the user is bit like using a ride sharing service — you’re indicating that you need something. You’re getting a text message back saying “Thanks for the order. Zip has been dispatched. It’s 12 minutes away.” Then you get a second text message saying “Zips one minute away please walk outside to receive the package.” That’s it. You do not need anything other than a cell phone to place an order and get an instant delivery of a product needed to treat a patient. There is no infrastructure required, very little training, anybody can use it.

AMLG: It’s probably more reliable than my Uber turning up where I think it’s going to turn up at the time I think it’s going to turn up. Because there’s no humans in the loop unless something goes wrong, right?

KR: There is a human in the loop in the sense that we have an air traffic controller that is in communication with the vehicles at all times and can issue high level commands to different vehicles in the fleet if necessary. But those cases of intervention are exceedingly rare. The vast majority of the time these vehicles make their own decisions, monitor their own health, successfully complete missions and return to the distribution center.

Rwanda is located in East Africa, and mountains dominate the central and western parts of the country.

AMLG: In terms of Rwanda — its a pretty wild, mountainous country. What did you have to do technically to support the navigation system, did you just use 3D satellite maps and pair these with manual ground surveys, or what?

KR: One of the characteristics of Rwanda that made it a good place to start with this technology is that it’s a mountainous country. It’s known as the Land of a Thousand Hills. It can often take, by nature of that topography, a long time. Roads tend to be windy. We actually took open source topographical maps of the country and then loaded those — along with more precise 3D surveys of the delivery sites that we serve — we loaded those both into the navigation system of the airplanes so that when you have a package the vehicle is scanning the barcode of that package and then instantly has its mission. It knows where it needs to go and there’s no programming in coordinates. That’s all done ahead of time because each path is predesignated from the distribution centre to a hospital we serve. Every time you’re doing a delivery to that hospital the plane is flying in the exact same path. This is how we ensure that the system operates in a predictable, reliable, ultimately boring way. Logistics should be boring. There shouldn’t be any surprises.

AMLG: What about the design process, what didn’t you expect — were there breakthroughs in how you designed the system to be this efficient and this simple? Was the aircraft catching method where you hook it on landing what you decided to do from the get go?

KR: When we were getting started this had never been done before. It still has not been done by anyone else in the world. We had no idea if it would work. Some of the more intricate parts of the system — the way we recover the airplanes for example — the airplane doesn’t have any landing gear and we don’t have runways.

A Zip being snatched out of the sky, with onlookers observing the “sky ambulance”

Recovering the plane from 100 kilometers an hour, snatching it out of the air and gently bringing it to a halt is an exceedingly tricky problem. The solutions that we initially tried, we were shocked that some of them worked as well as they did. On the technology side there was always doubt in the back of our minds about whether this was even possible. When we were building it everybody was telling us it wasn’t possible and that can mess with your head.

AMLG: On the technological side or business side?

KR: On every side. The overwhelming advice we got was, this is not technologically possible. Even if it were technologically possible it wouldn’t work reliably. Even if it did work reliably there’s no willingness to pay for it and no need for it in different parts of the world. Even if there were a need for it the technology won’t be able to operate at scale. Over the course of the last three years every year we’ve had to disprove one of those notions. Now I think they are all disproved. But even now people who look at what we’re doing will say, well OK the technology works and it works reliably and it works at scale and it turns out there is a need for it, but only in that country that you’re in. It won’t apply to other countries. That’s the next mistaken notion that we’re working on correcting now.

But in terms of being surprised, whenever you’re trying to do something for the first time in the world there’s a lot of uncertainty from a technology perspective. That first time that you see something that you build work is always miraculous and surprising. The other surprising thing to us is that we knew this was going to look weird. Having an autonomous electric vehicle delivering urgent medical products from the sky in a remote part of Rwanda, that looks kind of crazy.

AMLG: Looks crazy to the locals?

KR: Yeah. We do a survey flight to the hospital before we begin delivering medical products, just to make sure that the route is working perfectly and the numbers look good. And the doctor there was telling me they were having problems because all the patients were climbing out of bed to see the vehicle as it was coming by. The doctors were trying to keep the patients in the beds because it wasn’t good for them to be getting out of bed.

AMLG: Unintended consequences!

KR: Exactly. There is an element of this that is radically different. There’s a magic or science fiction to it. But the surprising thing to me was that after seven days all of the magic and science fiction is gone and the doctors treat this as the most obvious thing in the world. They expect the service, they rely on it and they find it boring. It’s amazing how fast you go from science fiction to this is just the way we do it.

A Zip drops medical supplies at a local health facility

AMLG: You make it look easy but I know how much resistance there is on many fronts to get to this, it’s remarkable. One of my favorite things you’ve said is that the locals call it the “sky ambulance” — it’s obvious, the sky ambulance is coming. 

KR: It’s like, of course.

AMLG: In terms of the technological breakthrough — you’re building the drones yourself, you’re designing manufacturing and operating a completely new fleet of vehicles every four to five months. You’re borrowing a lot from existing flight control systems and best practice in the aerospace industry, but how is that rapid iteration working? What kind of changes do you make every four to five months?

KR: Zipline designs the flight computer, which means that we are actually designing the boards and the microprocessors that are making decisions on board the vehicle. We’re designing the overall avionics system. We design the flight controls, which is the math that allows the vehicle to fly. We design the guidance and navigation system, which is how the plane finds its way out to where it needs to go. We also design the air traffic control algorithms and the communication architecture of the plane. We design the airframe and we design the entire distribution centre that needs to be able to launch and recover these planes at high volume on a daily basis in a reliable way. By owning the full stack — one thing most people don’t realize about Boeing is that Boeing is only a final integrator, and when you go and try to build a plane like the 787 it’s this complicated rats nest of subcontractors subcontracting to subcontractors, and that leads to projects being expensive and slow.

But when one small team of hardworking engineers can own the entire system from scratch you can move fast. If something’s going wrong you just turn to your right and say, hey so-and-so you built this system, we need to change it by this afternoon. The other thing that we’ve done that’s enabled the speed of the company is we do all of our engineering, manufacturing and flight operations in the same place. When you step outside there are planes flying. So if a plane looks like it’s not flying right or a component you designed looks like it’s not working the right way, you can design something different, run into the manufacturing shop, get something built in a different way and then test it that day. The rate of iteration is 100 times faster than in a traditional aerospace company.

AMLG: It reminds me of SpaceX and how they rethought the operations and the layout of the engineering floor so they could have that quick communication loop.

KR: A significant portion of our engineering team is from SpaceX and we have learned a vast amount from how SpaceX designed those rockets. It’s quite difficult to design aerospace systems quickly but also in a safe way. Those two goals are in tension with one another. SpaceX has led the way in terms of showing how that’s possible and now we’re trying to show that it’s possible with airplanes not just rockets.

AMLG: How big is your team now?

KR: We have something like 60 people full-time.

AMLG: How do you keep that number capped as you expand the business to other countries and other use cases?

KR: We won’t keep it capped as we expand into new countries. One of the most important things to understand about what’s happening in Rwanda right now is that distribution center is being led by an extraordinary team of full-time Zipline employees, but they are also native Rwandans. The technical lead at that distribution center is an extraordinary engineer named Abdul. The rest of the team are hardworking, super smart, and driven to make sure that the system has a positive impact on patient health, which is our mission.

Each country we go into we hire a full team of people to run the distribution centers in that country. That team is not U.S. expats, they’re predominantly citizens of the country we’re launching in. That said from a headquarters perspective we focus on hiring people who love taking on huge hairy technical problems who can do the work of 30 or 40 engineers at a place like Boeing. That’s the only thing a startup can do to survive in this space. You can’t spend $32 billion dollars developing an airplane like Boeing did with the 787. You have to figure out a way of doing that for five or six orders of magnitude less.

AMLG: The lean aerospace startup. 

KR: Exactly. That means people have to own more, move faster, be willing to take risk. And — although this sounds crazy in an aerospace startup — especially under test conditions you have to be willing to crash. If you’re not willing to crash then you’re in this regime of ultra risk aversion that will prevent you from ever doing anything new.

AMLG: Have you had any planes crash since you’ve started operating? I presume it has to happen.

KR: One of the big learnings for us from the testing we were doing in Half Moon Bay at our offices was it was important to design an ultimate failsafe into the system. If every other component and safety mechanism on the plane fails you must be able to ensure that the plane is going to come to the ground in a safe and reliable way. So we actually designed a parachute into the plane. It works much like the Cirrus, a high end general aviation aircraft that you can buy today. The Cirrus has a similar system where you have a ballistically deployed parachute. We’ve designed a simpler system into our airplanes such that if all the other safety components of the vehicle fail the plane can pull its parachute and come to the ground so gently that you can catch it. We use that commonly under test circumstances at our headquarters. It’s a good thing we built it because we have experienced significant anomalies, things that we weren’t expecting having to do with the fact that Rwanda is a different environment than the environment we were testing in.

AMLG: Lets get into the economics — you’ve said the business has been profitable from day one and that the costs will come down as you continue to improve the supply chain and as volume goes up. Can you speak to the unit economics and how they will change as you expand?

KR: One of the exciting things about working with the Rwandan government is they think about projects like this differently. A lot of places in the developing world have an attitude of, we want this for free or we want it to be done by a non-profit or we want it to be philanthropy. The Rwandan government’s approach is different. You always hear the president of Rwanda talking about trade not aid.

AMLG: I think there’s a misconception that you’re doing philanthropy, but you’re not — you’re making money on these deliveries right?

With the rapid adoption of mobile phones, many Africans have bypassed state-owned phone companies and banks in favor of mobile payments. 10 year old company M-Pesa, a service that lets you send money via cellphone, now has over 30 million users. M-Pesa processed ~6 billion transactions in 2016. [Source]

KR: Yes that’s important. We don’t make a lot of money on the deliveries, it’s not a high margin business. But it is important to understand that philanthropy doesn’t scale. Sustainable profitable businesses do scale. The best example of this are cellphone networks in Africa and how absolutely transformative that business model has been for everybody’s lives across the continent.

We want to show that it’s possible to use this kind of technology to similarly leapfrog. In the same way that cellphones allowed many countries to leapfrog the absence of landlines we think this kind of technology can show that it’s possible to leapfrog the absence of roads or low quality roads to make fast deliveries in a highly cost-effective way. It’s important to show that this is sustainable and that is the key thing. This is not some philanthropic thing that’s going to go on for a year and when the funding dries up it’s done. This can support itself. It’s economically viable and it can fund future growth both in Rwanda and in other countries across the world.

Population and GDP of Rwanda [Source]

AMLG: It seems that Rwanda has been a great initial test bed. As you look at other countries in the developing world, a lot of local governments are tied closely to the business community, there’s corruption, bureaucracy, long sales cycles. How do you evaluate which markets you’re going to go into?

KR: There was a reason that we chose Rwanda first. The government there is extraordinarily disciplined. They make decisions fast and they’re investing heavily in healthcare and technology. As a U.S. citizen I wish our country could make decisions that quickly and that responsibly. I assure you we can’t.

AMLG: You’ve said its bittersweet that you’re having to start in Africa and that you couldn’t do this right away in the U.S.?

KR: Well at this point I consider myself at least an honorary Rwandan. The people of that country are so incredibly deserving and hardworking. The level of ambition of a country that has limited resources relative to a country like the U.S., to say we don’t just want to have the best healthcare system in East Africa, we don’t just want to have the best healthcare system in the developing world, why don’t we just go build one of the best healthcare systems in the world and let’s use technology and robotics and artificial intelligence to get there. That’s extraordinary. But yeah it is bittersweet. We’re a U.S. company and the reality is that the same positive impact that this system is having in Rwanda, it could have that same positive impact on patient health in the U.S. There are people who live in remote parts of this country who don’t have the same access to healthcare that you have if you’re living in a city or on the coasts. That’s a shame. We’re essentially waiting for the U.S. government to catch up to a country like Rwanda, in terms of using technology to make people’s lives better.

AMLG: Right. As you said it’s probably a lot about attitudes as well — it takes a special culture and government to say we are going to be first, we’re going to lead. And the U.S. in this case wants to be first to be second and have it proved out perhaps. I know the FAA’s line of sight restrictions still in place but they do relax regulations for certain companies in certain areas to test out. You made a recent announcement with the White House about doing tests in the U.S. — the Navajo reservation delivery or Smith Island in D.C.? Can you talk about those?

KR: As I mentioned there are these places where you can actually look at the data — people who live in rural places in the U.S. have worse health outcomes than people who live in urban cities. A big part of that has to do with access. If you live 150 miles from the nearest hospital and you have a medical emergency the chances of you surviving are worse. It’s not that surprising. Particularly in places in the U.S. where the roads might not be good or where you are remote or where you have Critical Access Hospitals or clinics that may be stocking out of products or may only hold a small number of medical products on hand and not the ones you might need, having instant delivery is an obvious idea. One thing that blows my mind is that we have instant delivery for hamburgers but we don’t have instant delivery for medicine. That makes no sense.

AMLG: The U.S. has certain priorities, burgers are a matter of national pride…

KR: Haha. But the fact that the fast food industry is out-innovating the medical industry is a scary sign of how slow the medical industry is moving. That said, because we’re working closely with the government and with the FAA, we know that the FAA is pushing hard. Everybody does want to encourage this industry. We don’t want the U.S. to fall behind in terms of core infrastructure projects of the future. That said the FAA needs data. So we are now generating as much data as we can to allow regulators across the world to become more and more comfortable and essentially to understand that this is inevitable.

AMLG: It’s a bit like autonomous cars, where they’re collecting tons of data to show the safety of their vehicles on the road. So you are porting all this data that you are currently documenting to be able to come to the U.S., right?

KR: We’re not overly focused on the U.S. The reality is that we’re an international company. There are so many countries all of which have different healthcare systems and so in each case the need is a bit different. As with any new technology or innovation, there are unknowns around what are the effects, how do you regulate it, how do you manage it. That’s true for everything. The reality is that the most innovative disciplined countries out there are going to be the ones that seize the opportunity first. Of course the countries that seize the opportunity first, that used to be the U.S. The U.S. led the way in aviation for the first half of the 20th century. But it may be different countries in the future. Those countries that lead the way are the ones that reap the outsized benefits of that technology because they’re usually the ones that own the manufacturing base and the innovation base for that technology into the future.

AMLG: I do want to talk hypothetically at least about the U.S. market and specifically the healthcare market. From what I’ve read it seems like there’s two things. One is what you’ve sort of outlined, which is the rural use cases, there’s a high rural population in the U.S. so that makes sense. The other would be things around personalized medicine, so rare immunotherapies, cell gene therapies, biologics that require temperature control, humidity control and monitoring of the shipments while they’re moving through the supply chain. As you’ve talked to health networks and pharmacies in the U.S. What have you found about their response? The U.S. healthcare system is notoriously bureaucratic and it’s one of the glaring areas where there’s been no innovation and people have tried time and time again to crack it. How in theory could you crack innovation and the U.S. healthcare market?

KR: I think it has to come from the doctors. A bureaucrat in a regulatory agency having to do with healthcare in the U.S. is going to give you one answer. But a month ago I gave a presentation in front of about 1000 doctors in the U.S. and was absolutely mobbed after the conversation. All I’m doing is saying, here’s what we’re doing in Rwanda. And doctors are saying “wow, here is how I would use this. I just had this case the other day where I could have used instant delivery.”

AMLG: So I have to ask, doctors have a lot of pain points in their business and they’ve wanted change in the system, but pharmacies, hospitals insurance companies, PBMs — there’s a lot of legacy interests there that people haven’t been able to crack through. You can have the enthusiasm from doctors but it hasn’t really worked for other businesses who are trying to change the system. What could you do differently? Could you take advantage of existing supply chains, how could you integrate there, how could you serve hospitals? What’s the wedge?

KR: There are lots of ways. There are lots of healthcare logistics companies in the U.S. For instance UPS has a large healthcare logistics branch. There are companies that specialize in this — McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health. These are some of the biggest companies that nobody has ever heard of. They are huge, and hugely complex systems that are designed to deliver medicine to health centers and hospitals across the country. The way that you start is you focus on urgent and emergency medical products and you make it clear that if a patient is dying the doctor can get the product they need to say that patients life.

It’s a very simple idea. Even the bureaucracy of the healthcare system is not going to be sufficient to prevent someone someone who is dying or someone’s family from using that system or insisting that it be used. The reality is that in our conversations with those healthcare logistics companies in the U.S., they’re super innovation-forward because their desire is to provide the highest level of service to the hospitals and health centers that they deliver medical products to. So it’s actually not that complicated. It’s not like you’re trying to get a new medical compound. You’re just saying, hey this is 10 to 20 times as fast. So if you need a medical product quickly you can get it.

AMLG: And it basically needs to be cheaper than a helicopter which is how emergency supplies get delivered?

KR: Yes. A pretty low bar. We can be conceivably a hundred to a thousand times less expensive than a helicopter.

KR: I think it has to come from the doctors. A bureaucrat in a regulatory agency having to do with healthcare in the U.S. is going to give you one answer. But a month ago I gave a presentation in front of about 1000 doctors in the U.S. and was absolutely mobbed after the conversation. All I’m doing is saying, here’s what we’re doing in Rwanda. And doctors are saying “wow, here is how I would use this. I just had this case the other day where I could have used instant delivery.”

AMLG: So I have to ask, doctors have a lot of pain points in their business and they’ve wanted change in the system, but pharmacies, hospitals insurance companies, PBMs — there’s a lot of legacy interests there that people haven’t been able to crack through. You can have the enthusiasm from doctors but it hasn’t really worked for other businesses who are trying to change the system. What could you do differently? Could you take advantage of existing supply chains, how could you integrate there, how could you serve hospitals? What’s the wedge?

KR: There are lots of ways. There are lots of healthcare logistics companies in the U.S. For instance UPS has a large healthcare logistics branch. There are companies that specialize in this — McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health. These are some of the biggest companies that nobody has ever heard of. They are huge, and hugely complex systems that are designed to deliver medicine to health centers and hospitals across the country. The way that you start is you focus on urgent and emergency medical products and you make it clear that if a patient is dying the doctor can get the product they need to say that patients life.

It’s a very simple idea. Even the bureaucracy of the healthcare system is not going to be sufficient to prevent someone someone who is dying or someone’s family from using that system or insisting that it be used. The reality is that in our conversations with those healthcare logistics companies in the U.S., they’re super innovation-forward because their desire is to provide the highest level of service to the hospitals and health centers that they deliver medical products to. So it’s actually not that complicated. It’s not like you’re trying to get a new medical compound. You’re just saying, hey this is 10 to 20 times as fast. So if you need a medical product quickly you can get it.

AMLG: And it basically needs to be cheaper than a helicopter which is how emergency supplies get delivered?

KR: Yes. A pretty low bar. We can be conceivably a hundred to a thousand times less expensive than a helicopter.

As of Sept 2015 there were ~1,300 “Critical Access Hospitals” located in rural areas in the U.S. [Source]

AMLG: In terms of how you would get to scale in the U.S. — there’s about 6,000 hospitals. How many of these distribution centers would you need to cover the U.S.?

KR: I think that with about 20 distribution centers you could cover 70 to 80 percent of the U.S. population. When you think about that that’s incredible scale. Because each distribution center is a relatively low fixed cost. We can set it up in two weeks. You could build an instant delivery network for the entire country in six to eight months if the regulatory regime were amenable to it.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/25/using-drones-to-build-the-ambulance-fleet-of-the-future/

Wagamama apologises after sickness threat

Image copyright Unite Hospitality

Restaurant chain Wagamama has apologised after a manager warned workers they face disciplinary action for calling in sick over Christmas.

A note on a rota at a London branch of the restaurant chain said it was the responsibility of ill staff to find colleagues to cover shifts.

Wagamama said the manager “feared team member shortages” and “regrettably decided to take this highly unusual approach”, which is not company policy.

A union posted the rota on Facebook.

A note beneath the rota states: “No calling in sick! may I remind you that if you are unable to come in for your shift it is your responsibility [underlined] to find someone to cover your shift (as per contract and handbook).

“Calling in sick during the next 2 weeks will result in disciplinary action being taken”.

‘Not company policy’

Wagamama insisted the rule was “strictly not company policy”, and said it was an “isolated incident” at its North Finchley restaurant.

A spokesman for the Unite Hospitality union said: “To threaten workers with disciplinary action for being sick is not just morally reprehensible, it may be unlawful under the Health and Safety Act and Equality Act as it discriminates against those with long-term physical or mental health conditions.”

Image copyright Alamy

Wagamama, which has been owned by the London-based private equity firm Duke Street Capital since 2011, has more than 100 branches across the UK.

A Wagamama spokesperson said: “Following reports of a notice posted in our North Finchley restaurant we can confirm this was an isolated incident and is strictly not company employment policy.

“The manager involved feared team member shortages over the festive period and regrettably decided to take this highly unusual approach.

“As a company we treat all our team with the greatest respect and understand and appreciate the hard work they all do. We sincerely apologise for what has happened and wish all our team members and customers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

‘Blood was boiling’

The person who brought the rota to Unite Hospitality’s attention is a friend of someone who works at Wagamama in North Finchley.

“They sent me that picture,” he told the BBC. “They didn’t want me to share it at all. But my blood was boiling. I needed to do something about it.

“I don’t believe it is company policy. It might have been an idea of the manager because he doesn’t know the law.”

Image copyright Google Maps
Image caption The rota was put up at Wagamama’s branch in North Finchley

He said the note attached to the rota could be “dangerous for the health and safety of people”.

“If you force people to work when they are sick they can poison the food. There is something very wrong.”

He said many of the staff at that branch were young workers from Eastern Europe and “maybe they are scared to lose their jobs or they don’t know the law themselves”.

Boycott call

The Green MSP for the West Scotland region, Ross Greer, was one of the first people to post a photograph of the rota on Twitter, writing: “That’s the end of my custom with @wagamama_uk. Treat your staff with some respect.”

@dtaylor5633 also expresses concern about the potential health risks.

The rota note has led a #boycottwagamama campaign on Twitter, with people voicing concern the policy may lead to sick workers undertaking shifts.

However, other people say customers should not “vilify a whole company” because of an issue related to a single branch. Former employees in other branches have also taken to social media to say they have not experienced similar practices.

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42473679

Unbound raises $2.7 million for womens sexual wellness

Unbound, a sexual wellness startup for women, recently raised $2.7 million from Founders Fund, Slow Ventures, Arena Ventures, SoGal Ventures and others. Founded by Polly Rodriguez of Women of SexTech, Unbound aims to empower women to own their sexuality.

“Raising money is always hard but it took an exceptional amount of resilience,” Rodriguez said.

Unbound’s bread and butter is three-fold: content related to sexual health, wellness and pleasure, individual sex toy products and a quarterly box of curated products. Unbound started as a third-party seller for sex products like vibrators and lubricant. In recent months, it’s been developing and selling its own in-house products. Down the road, the goal is to completely shift away from the third-party reselling business.

“The transition from selling third-party to predominantly your own products isn’t always the smoothest,” she said. “In the next year, ideally, most things will be made in house.”

Currently, the bulk of what’s sold on Unbound are vibrators. The company also sells bundled items, like a strap-on box, g-spot box, a kink box and menopause box.  Unbound expects to do around $2 million in sales by the end of this year.

At some point, Unbound will also expand into brick-and-mortar to be more experience-driven. Rodriguez envisions Unbound becoming something like Planned Parenthood 2.0, where people can get mammograms, pap smears and other “things women dread.”

“Female sexual health and wellness can become this thing we don’t dread,” she said.

Rodriguez decided to start the company after her battle with cancer and radiation-induced menopause. During that time, she said wanted to make sure she was taking ownership over her body and sexuality.

But the shopping experience for lubricant “mortified” her, she said. “It stuck with me as a terrible experience.”

In addition to empowering women and solving problems that are specific to them, Rodriguez wants to educate the public around women’s health and sex.

“People often assume that anything adult is all the same thing,” Rodriguez said. “Anything from hardcore pornography to very simple lubricants. One of the things our company and women of SexTech seek to achieve is to really provide more categorization,” Rodriguez said. “And it helps to decrease the stigmas and taboos associated with sexual health and wellness.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/22/unbound-raises-2-7-million-for-womens-sexual-wellness/

Trump Takes On Amazon Again, Urging Much More in Postage Fees

President Donald Trump said the U.S. Postal Service should charge Amazon.com Inc. more to deliver packages, the latest in a series of public criticisms of the online retailer and its billionaire founder.

The post office “should be charging MUCH MORE” for package delivery, the president tweeted Friday from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where he’s spending the holidays.

“Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” Trump told his 45 million followers.

Trump regularly criticizes Amazon and its chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper and is currently the world’s richest man. In August, Trump accused the company of causing “great damage to tax paying retailers,” even though the internet giant began collecting sales tax on products it sells directly in April.

As with prior missives targeting the company, Trump’s message appeared to concern investors. Amazon’s stock had gained the past three days, but dropped 0.6 percent to $1,178.68 at 12:41 p.m. in New York.

A sudden increase in postal service rates would cost Amazon about $2.6 billion a year, according to an April report by Citigroup. That report predicted United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. would also raise rates in response to a postal service hike.

Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment.

‘Last Mile’

Amazon regularly uses the Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery, with letter carriers dropping off packages at some 150 million residences and businesses daily. It has a network of more than 20 “sort centers” where customer packages are sorted by zip code, stacked on pallets and delivered to post offices for the final leg of delivery.

While full details of the agreement between Amazon and the Postal Service are unknown — the mail service is independently operated and strikes confidential deals with retailers — David Vernon, an analyst at Bernstein Research who tracks the shipping industry, estimated in 2015 that the USPS handled 40 percent of Amazon’s volume the previous year. He estimated at the time that Amazon pays the Postal Service $2 per package, which is about half what it would pay UPS or FedEx.

Both shippers were up less than 1 percent Friday. Higher postal service rates would benefit private carriers by making their rates more competitive.

But the postal service’s losses have little to do with Amazon and more to do with its large health-care obligations and the dwindling use of first-class mail. USPS charges some of the world’s lowest stamp prices.

The president’s tweet also assumes that Amazon would be forced to pay if the Postal Service increased its rates for packages. But Amazon has been setting up its own shipping operations in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world to minimize costs.

For more on Trump’s Twitter storms, check out this podcast:

 

$62 Billion Loss

The Postal Service reported a net loss of $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2017 and has $15 billion in outstanding debt. The service has lost $62 billion over the last decade.

USPS’s chief financial officer, Joseph Corbett, wrote in a post for PostalReporter.com in August that the service is required by law to charge retailers at least enough to cover its delivery costs.

“The reason we continue to attract e-commerce customers and business partners is because our customers see the value of our predictable service, enhanced visibility, and competitive pricing,” he wrote.

He said Congress should pass provisions of legislation introduced last year by former Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, that would allow the postal service to raise some rates and discontinue direct delivery to business customers’ doors.

Amazon is experimenting with a new delivery service of its own that is expected to see a broader roll-out in the coming year. Under the program, Amazon would oversee the pickup of packages from warehouses of third-party merchants and delivery to home addresses.

Despite the occasional anti-Amazon tweet, Trump is unlikely to target Amazon with any action because the company is creating jobs by building new warehouses around the country. It’s also expected to generate 50,000 new positions with its second headquarters, said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co.

“The interests of Amazon and the administration are largely aligned – even factoring the dislocation to retail – given the positive headline potential around new job creation with fulfillment centers and HQ2,” he said.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-29/trump-says-u-s-post-office-should-charge-amazon-much-more

    Photographer Reveals The Addicted Side Of The Streets Of Philadelphia, And Its Terrifying

    Kensington Avenue in North Philadelphia is infamous for drug abuse and prostitution. The Avenue runs 3 miles through what is now a dangerous and crime-ridden neighborhood. Kensington Blues is a photography series by Jeffrey Stockbridge, 36, that documented the struggles and the dark reality of local residents.

    Between 2008 and 2014, the photographer took a series of intimate portraits of people capturing a side of Philadelphia that is rarely seen or talked about. The residents shared their stories, talking about drugs, prostitution and other struggles of their lives.

    “The goal of my work is to enable people to relate to one another in a fundamentally human way, despite any commonly perceived differences”- Jeffrey shared on his website. “I rely on the trust and sincerity of those I photograph to help me in this process.”

    Take a look at the powerful images below.

    “We out here so we can get money so we has somewhere to rest our heads. We look out for each other. If I can’t get money, she gets it, and whatever money we get we share…We need quick money cause we need somewhere to sleep every day. I mean, trust me, we don’t want to be out here doing this. This is the last thing I want to do….

    “We out here so we can get money so we has somewhere to rest our heads. We look out for each other. If I can’t get money, she gets it, and whatever money we get we share…We need quick money cause we need somewhere to sleep every day. I mean, trust me, we don’t want to be out here doing this. This is the last thing I want to do. But I do what I have to do to take care of my sister. Cause she’s all I got and I’m all she’s got.”

    Al lives in a house off Kensington Avenue without electricity or running water. He sometimes rents his upstairs bedroom to prostitutes in need of a private location for engaging in sex and drug use.

    “I’m 55 years old, I have a master’s degree in psychology, but after my husband, mother and father, died in a car accident two years ago, I lost my whole family, my career, one, my health, all in one go.”

    She told that she often sleeps on the streets during the day to protect herself at night.

    They still have children, whom they gave away to a special agency for their protection. “We gave the kids away, people say it’s a selfish act, but I think it’s the best I could do for their better future,” Rachel said.

    She is 25 years old, working in the sex industry since she was 18.

    “I’ve been raped, and, you know, almost killed really”

    A local resident, at the time she was 41. Carol told the photographer that she had been doing heroin for 21 years and it became “the love of her life”.

    The veins in Sarah’s arms were no good for injection, so she asked Dennis for the drug to be injected to her neck.

    “I don’t just do this for drugs. I do this because I wanna eat, because I like to buy clothes, because I like the small things, you know. I did have a normal life once but…I really believe, like if my, if my family say like, “Mary come, come home stay with us” like, if I could I would…”

    He struggled with drug addiction after being released from prison. Sepsis developed in his left leg. Because of his addiction, he failed to meet the treatment regimen and eventually the doctors had to amputate part of the leg.

    Matt shoots Brian in the neck in front of the McPherson Square Library on Kensington Avenue. It’s 10 AM on Sunday morning.

    Maria: “I’ve been here almost 8 years and I see a lot of bad stuff going around. They say when you go between it, you gonna do it too.” Robert: “You don’t need no cable, you don’t have to watch TV. You just gotta sit out here. You see drama, you see soap opera, you see violence and crime.” Maria: “You even see sex.”

    “I don’t really ask people for a lot, I get my money, like I don’t like to, cause a lot of times to get people to take care of you, you have to lie to them. And then lead them on and make them think that you’re gonna get clean. And then, and then it ends up getting to be too much, where they’re trying to control what you do….

    “I don’t really ask people for a lot, I get my money, like I don’t like to, cause a lot of times to get people to take care of you, you have to lie to them. And then lead them on and make them think that you’re gonna get clean. And then, and then it ends up getting to be too much, where they’re trying to control what you do. And I’d rather just get the money and end it at that with no strings attached cause I don’t need someone following me around, trying to track me down like, trying to drop me off at rehabs and shit.”

    “I went into rehab, for, like, snorting cocaine, taking oxies, perks, and I met people that did dope and smoked crack, and, you know, like, one thing led to another, and I was just, I was, I wanted to try it, and I did.”

    “I sold a lot of drugs and was involved with a lot of like, stuff that had to do with shooting guns and all. Most of it was uh selling drugs and collecting money that was owed to me and it caused me getting into a lot of trouble.”

    “What I’m doing I really don’t particularly care to be doing, but I do it anyway, and I’m not ashamed of it ’cause if I was ashamed of it, I wouldn’t do it….Until I decide to change it’s what I’m gonna do. Hopefully, like, the will of God…will make me strong enough and give me the determination to stop and get some help.”

    Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/portraits-kensington-blues-jeffrey-stockbridge/

    SERIOUSLY!? City of Seattle’s response to reports about new soda tax proves prog pols FAILED Econ-101

    The city of Seattle had a new soda tax kick in on January 1st, and it’s quite a doozy:

    Read more: https://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/2018/01/06/seriously-city-of-seattles-response-to-reports-about-new-soda-tax-proves-prog-pols-failed-econ-101/

    Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino just tastes like sugar and regret

    Please drive this away from me.
    Image: STARBUCKS

    Nothing says Christmas like a cold cup of sugar. 

    At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I took a sip, and another one of the Christmas Tree Frappuccino. It’s Starbucks’ latest concoction that has people running out to corporate coffee shops, where they spend $5 and most likely take a bunch of smartphone photos to later post on social media. 

    Like this: 

    Like any good business reporter, I jumped on the trend Sunday. After my editor shared a piece by The Denver Post reviewing the drink and some tweets of people’s reactions, I asked if I could go get one and try it myself. Because that, my friends, is reporting. 

    Well, I’ve been wanting to get one ever since my sister shared the Starbucks ad in our family group Thursday morning. 

    Three hours later, my mom shared a picture of hers. Her review: “It is delicious.” Her favorite part was the candied cranberry topping. 

    Image: screenshot

    Image: screenshot

    I had participated in two of the previous limited-edition Starbucks drinks. 

    The Unicorn Frappuccino, a trend debut, was actually not too bad in my biased opinion. Though I think I was on an emotional high because I drank them with Chloe the Mini Frenchie (RIP). 

    important coffee meeting with @kerrymflynn who you would share a unicorn frappuccino with? 🦄☕️

    A post shared by Chloe The Mini Frenchie (@chloetheminifrenchie) on

    The Zombie Frappuccino was strange, but I was also in the middle of emceeing an event in Columbus, Ohio. 

    I definitely couldn’t let this one escape me. 

    And so that’s how I ended up drinking 420 calories on a Sunday morning. Fortunately, I live four blocks from a Starbucks, so it wasn’t too burdensome to put on a jacket and walk out in the cold weather for a frozen beverage. 

    The most embarrassing part was probably ordering when I asked for a “Christmas Tree Frappuccino” and the barista replied, “What?” So then I had to repeat myself over a cringeworthy order while the person in front of me just sipped her cup of hot coffee. 

    I waited to take a sip until I could take photos. Because, of course, that’s exactly what Starbucks wants us all to do. All of our tweets are free ads. Actually, they’re not just free. We’re not getting paid. We’re paying them. Starbucks is making money having us all make ads for them. It’s brilliant, and I’m happy to be part of it. 

    I got home and looked at the drink on my counter. The Matcha whipped cream had melted to half its height from before. I finally noticed that there was no candied cranberry topping. But I regretfully took a sip. And oh man, it was not good.

    Thin Mints are great (Disclosure: I’m a Girl Scout). Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream is awesome. 

    The Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino is not either of those things. Every sip of this beverage is an overload of sugar. I’d rather crush up a bunch of Thin Mints and mix them with some ice and milk in a blender than continue sipping this. 

    I’m not going to tell you not to get a Christmas Tree Frappuccino because you can probably make your own decisions. But this is not good and you can spend $5 on something else. If you need the picture, go to Starbucks and just wait for someone else to order one. But be good to yourself, and don’t drink it. 

    Please. 

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/10/starbucks-christmas-tree-frappuccino-review-sugar-regrets-photos/

    Grandma’s Sweet Introduction Text To Grandson’s Girlfriend Escalates Quickly

    You’ve gotta love these unexpected, hilariously awkward little gems that are bound to pop up between an eccentric, loving grandmother and the poor ‘ol grandson/granddaughter’s significant other. In grandma’s defense, she clearly took a liking to her grandson’s girlfriend, and is only promoting awareness of her health!

    Read more: http://cheezburger.com/3890693/grandmas-sweet-introduction-text-to-grandsons-girlfriend-escalates-quickly