[Plura-list] Private equity's nursing home killing spree; Malcolm X's true killers; A voyage to the moon of 1776; German covid coinages

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Tue Feb 23 11:11:52 EST 2021


Tomorrow, Zeynep Tufekci and I are delivering the Mellon Sawyer Seminar
on Contemporary Political Struggle: Social Movements, Social
Surveillance, Social Media:


Today's links

* Private equity's nursing home killing spree: Pre- and post-covid.

* Malcolm X's true killers: NYPD deathbed confessions confirms
"conspiracy theory."

* A voyage to the moon of 1776: Filippo Morghen's imaginary travelogue.

* German covid coinages: Schadenfreude fur CoronaFußgruß.

* This day in history: 2006, 2011, 2016

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


🧑🏾‍🎨 Private equity's nursing home killing spree

As the pandemic's death-count has surged and retreated, an oft-heard
official excuse for mounting bodies is that the numbers are skewed by
nursing-home deaths, implying that elderly people are disposable, their
deaths inevitable.

In fairness to the politicians who made this ghastly excuse, they're
only asking us to be consistent. After all, we've sat by as the
eldercare industry was taken over by private equity, which transformed
(pre-covid) nursing homes into abattoirs.

The NBER paper "Does Private Equity Investment in Healthcare Benefit
Patients? Evidence from Nursing Homes" tallies up the slaughter: 20,000
dead as a result of being entrusted to PE-backed nursing homes.


As Julia Rock and David Sirota write for Jacobin, "going to a PE-owned
nursing home significantly increases the probability of death during the
stay and the following 90 days  compared to nursing homes with a
different ownership structure."


PE's playbook, remember, is to buy a company by borrowing against its
assets, setting it up for failure by creating huge debt-overhangs which
are exacerbated by further borrowing to pay the PE firm huge bonuses,
dividends and fees.

Servicing the new debt means slashing expenditures ("finding
efficiencies"). In nursing homes, that means less staff, less training,
less care, worse food, fewer activities and more crowding. The
researchers calculated PE's nursing home costs at "160,000 lost life-years."

The nursing home sector is the most for-profit component of US
health-care, with 70% of facilities operating on a for-profit basis.
Even among for-profit centers, PE-owned facilities are the worst, the
most abusive, the most lethal.

Not all of the excess profits wrung from these facilities goes to
shareholders, of course. Part of that money is swapped for political

For example, Andrew Cuomo counts the sector among his top donors. It's
no stretch to draw a line between those contributions and Cuomo's
immunity rule for nursing home execs at the start of the pandemic, which
became a charter to commit negligent homicide with total impunity.

Covid burned through the world's private nursing homes like wildfire,
and PE-owned homes were the worst: in NJ, PE-backed homes had 24.5%
higher infection rates and 10.2% higher death rates than the statewide

This is bad, but it isn't new. The GAO sounded the alarm about excess
deaths at privately owned nursing homes more than a decade ago.

We ignored them.


The political leaders who told us the covid death-toll was better than
it seemed because so many of those deaths were disposable seniors in
care homes were simply acknowledging a tacit consensus: that it's OK to
kill old people for profit.


🧑🏾‍🎨 Malcolm X's true killers

The official story of Malcolm X's death is that he was killed by
factional enemies in a power struggle over the leadership of the Nation
of Islam.

That story has always been in dispute: America's law-enforcement and
intelligence agencies loathed X, and had a long history of political
assassination. They had motive, means and opportunity.

Raymond Wood was an NYPD undercover officer who infiltrated racial
justice groups between 1964-71. When he received a cancer diagnosis in
2012, he penned a letter describing the "deplorable and detrimental"
work he did for the NYPD during that period.

Wood died in Nov 2020, and his cousin Reggie Wood passed the letter to
X's family, who revealed its contents last Saturday. In the letter,
Raymond Wood accuses the NYPD and FBI of colluding to murder X and then
pin the killing on innocent men.


The three men arrested and convicted for X's killing served lengthy
sentences. Wood's letter says that the NYPD concocted a Statue of
Liberty bomb plot as a pretense for arresting X's security detail,
leaving him undefended.

Wood was present at the killing. He wrote that "[Khalil Islam] was later
arrested and wrongfully convicted to protect my cover and the secrets of
the FBI and NYPD."

Beyond the killing of X, Wood's letter describes a campaign of illegal
dirty tricks to sabotage the cause of Black liberation.

"I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups
to commit felonious acts..to find evidence of criminal activity, so the
FBI could discredit and arrest its leaders."

The NY AG reopened its investigation of X's killing following the 2020
Netflix documentary "Who Killed Malcolm X?" The NYPD says they have
provided all relevant records to the AG's office.

Our current discourse over conspiracy puts a heavy emphasis on
"algorithmic radicalization," the supposed ability of recommendation
systems to draw vulnerable people into conspiratorial communities.

But sorely lacking from that discourse is asking why so many people
vulnerable to conspiratorial explanations. Asking that question means
confronting the real conspiracies, the corruption of the rich and
powerful who distort public policy to preserve their privilege.

From the 737 Max to the opioid crisis to digital redlining and
robo-signing foreclosure mills, we live in a golden age of conspiracy
without consequence, where the powerful commit murder, grow rich, and
walk away scot free.


🧑🏾‍🎨 A voyage to the moon of 1776

Filippo Morghen styled himself "Engraver to the King of the Two
Sicilies"; in 1776, the Neapolitan artist broke from his naturalistic
subjects to produce a book of ten fanciful engravings about a voyage to
the Moon.


"The Suite of the Most Notable Things Seen by Cavaliere Wild Scull, and
by Signore de la Hire on Their Famous Voyage from the Earth to the
Moon," featured today on the Public Domain Review, went through three
editions, and it's not hard to see why.

The engravings show a lunar civilization mixing "technological
innovation, colonial imagination, and a sense of rococo excess," part of
a genre of Moon voyage fiction including Francis Godwin's "Man in the
Moone" (1638) and John Wilkins' "Discovery of the World in the Moon."

These works and others are all available in gorgeous, hi-rez scans.
"Notable Things" is in the Yale collection:


"Moone," at Harvard:


and "Discovery" at the Internet Archive:



🧑🏾‍🎨 German covid coinages

From backpfeifengesicht to kummerspeck to fingerspitzengefühl, the world
of German compound words is a pure delight, an endless font of phrases
that perfectly capture the zeitgeist.

German covid coinages are a pandemic kuddelmuddel!

coronamüde: Tired of covid

Coronafrisur: covid hairstyle

Abstandsbier: distance-beer

Hamsteritis: stockpiling food

Maskentrottel: mask-idiot

CoronaFußgruß: corona foot-greeting


There are at least 1200 covid-related German coinages: from
Maskenflickenteppich (mask rag-rug, the patchwork of masking
regulations) to Homeofficepauschale (home office flat-rate, a called-for
€100/m home worker stipend), and so, so many more.



🧑🏾‍🎨 This day in history

#15yrsago UK anti-piracy officer assures Firefox she’ll catch the
pirates who copy it

#10yrsago Order of Odd-Fish, a funny, mannered, hilariously weird epic

#10yrsago Scott Walker tricked into spilling his guts to fake Koch

#5yrsago Bill Gates: Microsoft would backdoor its products in a

#5yrsago Wikileaks: NSA spied on UN Secretary General and world leaders
over climate and trade https://wikileaks.org/nsa-201602/

#5yrsago Unicorn vs. Goblins: the third amazing, hilarious Phoebe and
her Unicorn collection!


🧑🏾‍🎨 Colophon

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism
(https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/), Alice Taylor

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 532 words (113595 total).

* A short story, "Jeffty is Five," for The Last Dangerous Visions.
Yesterday's progress: 265 words (6732 total).

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Upcoming appearances:

*  Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Contemporary Political Struggle: Social
Movements, Social Surveillance, Social Media (with Zeynep Tufekci), Feb
24, https://ucdavis.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I99f4x8WRiKCfKUljVcYPg

* World Ethical Data Forum keynote, Mar 17-19,

* Launching "The Future You" with Brian David Johnson, Mar 19,

*  Balancing Worldbuilding and Narrative (with Karen Osborne and Kali
Wallace), Mar 24,

* Interop: Self-Determination vs Dystopia (FITC), Apr 19-21,

Recent appearances:

* Technology, Self-Determination, and the Future of the Future (CERIAS)

* Talking "Permanent Record Young Readers' Edition" with Edward Snowden

* Talking "Agency" with William Gibson

* Software Freedom is Essential to Human Freedom (linux.conf.au keynote)

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:
(signed copies:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

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"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion
Guy" DeVilla

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