Spain – a Squatter’s Paradise

For many people, squatting is a desperate last resort, while for some it is a lifestyle choice or a political statement. Barcelona, which is ground zero of Spain’s squatting phenomenon, attracts squatters from all over Europe. In recent years, more and more young locals — including many with jobs — who have been priced out of the rental market or who simply don’t want to pay the inflated rents have also turned to squatting.

https://wolfstreet.com/2020/09/12/how-spain-became-a-squatters-paradise/

If you live in a part of the world that is blessed with a year round moderate climate this phenomenon is coming to your town.

Meanwhile in Argentina…

In Argentina, they have gone beyond just squatting. Lands with no buildings on them are being occupied, houses build on them and people moves there, sometimes in just a few weeks. Once the illegal houses are occupied getting the people out and the houses destroyed is not easy. That already was a problem before quarantine but during quarantine? It has got a lot worse. And of course there is squatting too.

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How Dean Vagnozzi’s Clients Lost Bets On The Dead

Since financial adviser Dean Vagnozzi was charged with fraud in a government lawsuit in July, he has been castigated by regulators for how he steered customers to Par Funding, a Philadelphia lender founded by a twice-convicted felon. With his heavy radio advertising and free steak sales dinners, Vagnozzi, 51, touted alternatives to Wall Street.

Source: How Dean Vagnozzi’s Clients Lost Bets On The Dead

Actually the title to the original article is misleading.

Don’t bet on people dying to make your profits. Unfortunately some people do just that.

Life Partners founder Brian Pardo lived well in Waco, Texas, for a time. Pardo bought four planes and a yacht along with such artifacts as replicas of an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus and a pharaoh’s throne. His business eventually sold $2.4 billion in policies to 20,000 investors.

But in 2010 the Wall Street Journal reported that Pardo’s firm was relying heavily on an assembly-line doctor who was systematically under-predicting life expectancies. Life Partners’ sellers were living a lot longer than predicted — very good for them but hard on investors paying years of premiums without collecting death benefits,

https://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/how-clients-of-an-advisor-facing-fraud-complaint-lost-bets-on-the-dead?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-clients-of-an-advisor-facing-fraud-complaint-lost-bets-on-the-dead#

I’ve never been a fan of the life settlement business.

Never accept one of those free steak dinner offers.

“I slept on the floor, and woke up to ants crawling on my bed.”

Gaughan reported the room had dirt on the bed and on the ground, as well as an unclean sink and curtains. When she asked the hall coordinators why the room was in that condition, they said they had not anticipated anyone contracting COVID-19 within the first move-in day, so the rooms were not prepared, and spoke to her with indifference, she said.

Gaughan said she felt uncomfortable when she said she reported she was told she could not tell her parents that she tested positive for COVID-19, as it would cause “unnecessary chaos”. She added that the resident assistant informed her that he was told that none of the individuals herself and her roommate had come into contact with would be quarantined or notified of her testing positive.

‘I felt like a guinea pig’: student’s ‘awful’ quarantine experience prompts UI apology — https://dailyiowan.com/2020/08/20/i-felt-like-a-guinea-pig-students-awful-quarantine-experience-prompts-university-of-iowa-apology/

Colleges and universities are seemingly ill-prepared to deal with Covid-19 outbreaks on campuses. One commentator on this story wrote “they don’t care about students only their institutional survival” which is an opinion I share. Schools had months to prepare for reopening for the fall semester. From the stories I’ve read most institutions get an F in Infectious Diseases 101. Read this entire story yourself. Here are the points I gleaned from this story:

Poor planning from bad assumptions.

Bad assumptions led to poor judgment.

Poor judgment resulted in poor decisions.

Zero contact tracing (don’t tell your parents and we won’t tell anyone you’ve been in contact with).

Apologize because an apology for your ineptitude solves everything.

Apologize (but keep their money). College Clusterfuck 2.0 – “It’s a Dystopian Hell” – Updated.

Oh…I almost forgot. Blame the kids and take no responsibility.

In an email from Assistant Dean and Director of Student Accountability Angela Ibrahim-Olin, the University of Iowa reiterated that students can held accountable for off-campus behavior.

Off-campus behavior may lead to suspensions or cancellations of housing contracts — https://dailyiowan.com/2020/08/25/off-campus-behavior-may-lead-to-suspensions-or-cancellations-of-housing-contracts/

College Clusterfuck 2.0 – “It’s a Dystopian Hell” – Updated

Update 09.05.20

What could be worse than being stuck at home with Mom and Dad for months on end isolated from friends, activities restricted?

Going back to Mom and Dad to be stuck at home for even longer because you got expelled from college AND telling them they just paid for a year of college and housing for nothing.

The students were part of a special one-semester program for first-year students and according to Globe, the prepaid $US 36,500 cost for the semester won’t be refunded. Students won’t be able to take courses from home but are eligible to return in the fall.

11 freshmen at Northeastern were dismissed for violating COVID-19 rules. Their $35,000 tuition won’t be reimbursed. — https://www.businessinsider.com.au/11-northeastern-students-dismissed-breaking-covid-19-rules-party-2020-9

jordanschachtel.substack.com — America’s college students are returning to campus for the Fall semester, and many are finding themselves in an environment that no longer resembles an academic institution, but something closer to a correctional facility for young adults. It’s not just a handful of schools that are pursuing extreme restrictions and punitive measures in the name of “stopping the spread” of the coronavirus, but something that has become a nationwide norm.

Tales from America’s COVID college campuses — https://muckrack.com/jordan-schachtel/articles

College campuses have transformed into some of the most restrictive environments in America.  After hearing about these conditions, I sent out a post on social media asking for testimonials from students, parents, and educators. The responses below are some of the many replies I received discussing what students are experiencing in colleges and universities that have allowed for students to return to campus.

Tales from America’s COVID college campuses — https://jordanschachtel.substack.com/p/tales-from-americas-covid-college

From what I can tell Jordan Schachtel is an investigative journalist. If you follow the link in the second quote above you’ll find a bevy of quotes from both students and parents on college life 2020 pandemic edition. What you’ll read is absolutely jaw dropping. A lot of prison analogies…

This is not going well nor will it end well. Online education will become the new operating model for higher education sooner rather than later. See my earlier rant Post Pandemic Changes in Consumer Behavior for Professor Galloway’s opinion. He says it’s simple math.

Funny to think how colleges and universities will succeed now that they all have to focus on education and teaching their students. Not sports. No longer modern day fiefoms that exist solely to enrich the clueless intellectual elites. My Dad always told me the purpose of college was to teach you how to think, not what to think. High time to get back to what a “higher” education should be.

The Implosion of Freelance Work

I live in LA, and the article is really about people who work in entertainment/media — every tv show, commercial, music video and movie is the result of anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of people who work for the run of the project, then move on to another project. It’s everything from the building trades – carpentry, electrical, rigging/framing – to business services — legal, accounting, HR – to tech heavy work – video/sound editing — and finally, a lot of musicians — people who write and play the music you hear. All of these people are employees of the production, not AB5 type gig workers.

It’s a lifestyle/career choice and not for everyone. People hustle, build relationships and are always on the lookout for the next gig. But the work has been steady for decades, and then very suddenly the whole sector shut down hard.

Los Angeles Hit Hard by Implosion of Freelance Work

 

The pandemic has only exacerbated tenuous financial conditions for many in the flexible workforce.  According to a survey of more than 1,100 U.S.-based respondents interested in flexible work, more than half (53%) of people are currently earning half or less of their pre-pandemic income. Approximately one-third (31%) of respondents have lost their entire income since the pandemic started. This survey was conducted by FlexJobs, fielded in partnership with Prudential (1), in late June 2020.

Demographic breakdown of the 1,100 U.S.-based respondents interested in flexible work. Gender: female (81%), Male (17%) Prefer not to identify (2%) Ages: 20-39 (29%), 40-59 (53%), 60+ (18%); Education: high school degree or equivalent (4%), some college but no degree (15%), associate or bachelor’s degree (48%), graduate degree (33%); Career level: entry-level (11%), experienced (56%), manager (21%), senior level or higher (12%). Household income: Less than less than $50,000 (35%), $50,000 to less than $75,000 (18%); $75,000 to less than $100,000 (17%), $100,000 to less than $150,000 (17%), $150,000+ (13%). 34% of respondents were unemployed and looking for work.

Survey Finds 53% Earning Half Or Less Of Their Pre-COVID-19 Income

As a former freelancer my heart goes out to all of the gig workers whose lives have been upended by the pandemic.  I transitioned back to the world of W-2 work quite some time ago and haven’t regretted the move.

Meanwhile in Georgia…

“I think quite honestly this week went real well other than a couple of virtual photos,” Gov. Brian Kemp said at a news conference with the U.S. surgeon general.

Georgia governor: School openings going well except photos of crowded hallways

3rd Cherokee County school closes due to new COVID-19 cases

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DO NOT DRINK Hand Sanitizers

From May 1 through June 30, 2020, 15 cases of methanol poisoning were reported in Arizona and New Mexico, associated with swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Four patients died, and three were discharged with visual impairment.

Serious Adverse Health Events, Including Death, Associated with Ingesting Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers Containing Methanol — Arizona and New Mexico, May–June 2020

HandSanitizerCOVID19_IMAGE_05Aug20_1200x675-medium

This should be obvious but I guess it’s not.

What Seniors Can Expect as Their New Normal in a Post-Vaccine World

“Before COVID-19, baby boomers” — those born after 1945 but before 1965 — “felt reassured that with all the benefits of modern medicine, they could live for years and years,” said Dr. Mehrdad Ayati, who teaches geriatric medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and advises the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. “What we never calculated was that a pandemic could totally change the dialogue.”

What Seniors Can Expect as Their New Normal in a Post-Vaccine World

The skeptic in me was in complete denial until I got halfway through the list of predictions.

Hell, I’m already doing most of the things on this list now.