Category Archives: slum culture


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Tomorrow morning, unless a magical window of escape beckons before me otherwise, I am slated to appear in Pittsburgh, PA for a dentist appointment.

Along with its many and varied cultural offerings, Pittsburgh houses the national president of holistic dentistry. And, I have a hot root canal, poised to wreak its systemic havoc via the lymphatic channels of my unsuspecting body.

But, there is no havoc wreaked on the mind or body greater in breadth or scope than a trip to Pittsburgh.

The rest of the Commonwealth, at least at the northwest end, is easily accessible. The city where I live was laid out, port to its companion Great Lake, in a logical, “Philadelphia” style grid; everywhere we want or need to go is well within a solid ten minutes of commute in any direction. And, this is all accomplished simply by turning either right, or left, and proceeding in a straight line.

One wonders if the developers, who transformed Pittsburgh a couple decades ago from a smelly steel town into a hip and swanky hang for the wealthy and sophisticated, even cared if anybody ever came to visit.

The freeway lay as a driver approaches the metropolitan area is, simply put, foreboding. In an effort to escape the narrow streets and steep hills of its established neighborhoods, multiple steel reinforced layers of looping concrete envelope the entire landscape. Add to this an equal number of routes marked One Way, and you have a recipe for the Race to No Place. And, you get there in a far bigger hurry than you could possibly anticipate.

A couple years ago, I went my way down into that pit to search out a Steinway piano sale. The shop was situated on a narrow side avenue, across a bridge and between two hills that curved and diverged into infinity. The proprietor, a surgeon, was dispensing with all of his high end pianos because, he said, the location of the sales room drew few potential buyers and made deliveries difficult. Well, hello.

When I finally found the place, he was standing on the corner with his cell phone, directing me into the appropriate parking lot. Had the weather been pouring rain I would still be circling that block, two full years hence.

Historically, were the freight routes, bearing their loads of steel on large flatbeds, capable of being negotiated to and from the mills and refineries? If so, why are mere automated vehicles forced into this maze of intimidating, multi-lane, endlessly branching, suddenly exiting ramps and roller coasters?

There’s a trend in American civil engineering. Perhaps it receives its cue from the cardiac surgery industry. Take an existing ghetto, populated by the intractably impoverished, and build a cement bypass around it; take multiple slums, and build a whole tree of these. Get everybody to camp out at full speed for twenty nine minutes, just to be sure they never see how the other half lives, and hope they all arrive at your destination station without collateral damage.

I know one thing. No dental diversion will force me into a street marked Wrong Way, coasting to a stop just to stare balefully at the place where I am trying to go, its building fully visible from across the river. If the computerized voice on my GPS tracker can’t get me there, I’m not going.

And, Pittsburgh, you can bet that, next time, I’ll be inviting that dentist to move to Erie.





© Ruth Ann Scanzillo    12/12/16        All rights those of the insulated resident of Northwestern PA content to live where there are eleven public beaches and total access to everything a human wants or needs, the author. Thank you for coming.




By now, every civilized person who has ever been to a counselor or read a self help book knows: the emotion behind anger is fear.

Fear drives anger.

And, anger is usually expressed as aggression.

Hence, aggressive behavior is fear-based.


Sometimes that fear is rooted in a need to protect self, or those loved by self, or things owned and treasured by self.

Other times, that fear is rooted in a perceived threat to power or control.

But, fear is at the root. And, the consequent behavior is: aggression, sometimes brutal.


Enter the system of control in place to enforce laws intended to maintain order.

If there is fear driving a threat to a loss of that system of control, those in place to enforce its laws will behave aggressively.

The result: police officers, on the offensive. Ready to use their power, aggressively.


I believe that, in America, white police officers are afraid of black people, and black people are afraid of white police officers. Now, fear drives both. And, the behavior of both has become aggressive.

Those with official power behave aggressively; those who feel powerless behave passive-aggressively. Both are simply afraid of the other.


In America, white people who are afraid of black people were taught to be afraid of those they do not know. Black people were taught the same thing. Many white people who actually know black people, and many black people who actually know white people, have established trust one with another. And, even love.

And, I was taught that perfect love casts out fear.


Jimmy Carter should be consulted, and others like him should be running our country. Individuals with genuine compassion for the downtrodden, the powerless, and the fearful.

We need to start over. As simplistic as it sounds, we need to dig up our forgotten ability to pour out authentic love for one another. If we do not, we are doomed to destroy ourselves.


And, all because of being scared to death.




© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  9/24/16       Please share. Thank you.




Lifting A Finger! [audio]



THE NEW ENTITLEMENT: Restricted Access and “Reimbursement.”



This writer is feeling the burn, today.

Yesterday was the first day in my life that I got within eye contact of a living American Presidential candidate. It was also the first time in my life that I was ever so convinced by everything said, so aligned with every outlined principle and proposed policy.

Looking around me I saw a room, filled with young adults and poor people. Over two thousand, showing up with less than 24 hours notice, at least five of them my former students.

We all heard him say that America is the richest country in the world, and that he’d come to tell us we deserved a piece of the proverbial pie provided we worked to earn it. I wondered if everyone present fully understood the underlying structure of our candidate’s position – particularly as it related to money.

The teacher in me revved its engine; I came home compelled to speak. Here is my story.

About ten years ago, I signed up for a course in spread trading options. This course was held both online and over the phone, a group conference call in session two nights a week with a handful of participants. It came with volumes of hard copy reference material, which I have saved in my storehouse of human experience.

I learned buckets about the massive industry that dispenses free money. And, it ain’t what yer thinkin’.

I learned that, with essential skills in chart reading of key indicators and prudent decision making, putting down small money can, by day’s end, yield unbelievable windfall. How? By betting on the stock market. Betting that prices will rise, and betting that prices will fall, and doing so simultaneously.

The course trainer said to watch for a 20% move, and then act – in both directions. And, he was teaching caution!

What I discovered about myself was that chart reading was a piece of cake for me. What I also discovered was that I was far too impulsive to make the prudent decision. I’d place a trade, the smartest option on the boards, and then either close it out too soon or wait too long and watch my bet evaporate. Yes; along with obeying the indicators, timing was absolutely key.

But, what everyone needs to know about all this is:  the training necessary to do the thing right, that which yields incredible profits purely on the investments made by OTHER PEOPLE (i.e. their money (!), comes with a hefty price tag of its own: $10,000. And, though, by some fluke, my credit card was only charged $2000 for the course, in the end, I barely broke even on the trades I placed.

Yes; any American dream of making millions can come true. But, the price tag restricts that option (npi) to only those with enough to pay for the course in the first place. And, even then: one false move, and somebody else takes every penny.

Sound like the story of life in these United States?


And, here’s what: trades on stock, from the big corporate Blue Chips to the pennies, are happening every second, twenty four hours a day. There is computer software that does the thinking, following formulae (algorhythms) that would make the average math hater run for the vomitorium. And, by only lifting a finger, the top one tenth of one per cent of the American population is cashing in.

One key Presidential hopeful wants to impose a tax on the finger lifters. He’s the man I saw and heard, yesterday.

It only takes a fourth grader with the skill set and a calculator to estimate how much $$$ such a tax would generate. Senator Bernie Sanders would use that money to fund public education at the college level. Heck. There’d be enough left over to fund public education, period.

Yes. Wall Street has some ‘splainin’ to do. Problem is, there are those who are protecting their own stake in it who are fighting to prevent this. Certain Presidential candidates come to mind. The biggest among them, however, are the pharmaceutical giants, the ones who make the pills you take daily.

There’s a word, in the recording industry: payola. Look it up. Ever get free sample packets from your doctor of the latest drug to treat your condition? You’re right about one thing. Ain’t nuthin’ really free; somebody benefits. And, here’s the worst of it: medical oncologists get kickbacks for prescribing chemotherapy drugs. These kickbacks are called “reimbursements” and, for every drug that costs [the insurance company] 10 grand (and, you an increasing co-pay), the doc gets 600 bucks. Imagine 600 extra bucks for every customer who walks into a hardware store; if you’re the owner, you can by a yacht AND a second home.

So, yeah. I don’t blow the hot air. I might be a little behind on occasion [ totally missed Mellencamp at the Warner ], but I only speak when I’m as sure as I can be at the moment that I know what I’m talking about. And, if you find me errant, you tell me and I’ll be on it.

[ insert extemporaneous audio ]

Meantime, take a second look at the candidate you’ve been supporting for President. Then look, again, at Senator Bernie Sanders. There is far, far more under that shock of white hair than you’ll find inside the cranium of anybody else telling you for whom you should vote.

Speaking of voting, catch the latest in fraud following the still open New York primary. One hundred twenty five thousand New York voters, stripped of their option to vote at all, one of whom the daughter of an American veteran I know personally. Just enough to tip the scales for the other Democrat’s 10%, according to my calculations – and, my math skills are fairly rudimentary.

The verdict is not yet in. But, there are plans – concrete plans, in the mind of the only real visionary on the horizon. If you think for yourself, without fear, you’ll make the choice that will be right for you and everybody else. And, you’ll only have to lift your hand.


Bernie Sanders for President 2016.




© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  4/20/16   SHARE THIS POST. SHARE IT, LIBERALLY! THANK YOU!!