America’s Joyous Future

Courtesy of FailBlog

It’s the Jobs, Stupid.

You can’t swing your arms on the internet these days without hearing talk about jobs, and with good reason. We’ve got fewer job openings* and high unemployment, particularly high long term unemployment. It’s all about the jobs, and in many ways its about the fact that despite the law, people much over 40 are having a hard time getting them. And if you’re a new grad? You’ll be taking less pay* than you would have in recent years (and be delighted to have anything, alas). Meanwhile, the income gap is growing and our credit scores are getting worse — a polite way of saying we’re collectively having trouble paying our bills.

However, instead of talking about works programs that would put people to work now and create infrastructure that would create more jobs later, we have Hundreds of Hoovers looking to slash spending anywhere they can — but Heaven Forbid they should slash the Wars Without End, or turn thousands of criminal jobs into decent jobs, or slash actual waste, or make the people (and corporations!) who can most afford to pay taxes pay just a little more! Oh no, we can’t have any of those things.

Nope. They’re saying that tax cuts don’t result in the government getting less money, everything is Obama’s fault, that somehow cutting taxes creates jobs (I suspect the underpants gnomes are integral to that working), and — get this! — we little people are just going to have to get used to the idea that Social Security is going to be gutted.

We may also have to get used to the coming food riots.

I can’t think of the last time I linked Atrios, but he’s right. They don’t care about cutting the deficit, they care about making things better for the people at top and worse for the people at bottom.

Somewhere, Baby Boomers got the idea that there was never gonna be any Social Security money for them, so they set about destroying the system, insuring that prediction came to pass. Now those selfish young adults are getting on towards retirement age, and some of them have been forcibly retired. Talk about raising the retirement age to 70? Fine, but when was the last time you saw a 70 year old bricklayer, truck driver, computer programmer, barrista, or waitress?

So in the end, this is what we’ve got:
Lisa Benson

In Closing: nuclear explosions (a worthwhile way to spend 14 minutes); malaria; useless fliers; alert the media, the FDIC wants to do it’s job; factory farming means our produce isn’t as healthy as it was 30 years ago; why Johnnie doesn’t know his colors; super-extra polite phrases in Japanese.

*Somewhere along the line, USA Today turned into a proper news source! Kudos to them.

Short But Sweet

No, that’s not a description of myself. Eat your heart out!

I hate most audio and video posts on the web.

Ok, no, I liked the cute video of the baby playing with the collie. And I don’t mind when political sites like Crooks and Liars link to interviews and even political ads that are of interest. Sometimes there’s nuance you don’t get in the transcript — which by the way is often included (it’s my favorite part of their posts). I like funny songs and game reviews, and I like some of the serial dramas out there too. There are even some very useful “how-to” videos for a lot of activities.

But seriously, at least half of the audio and video on the web is stuff that wastes my time. It’s stuff that takes 5 or 10 minutes to watch, that if you were to just put it in print, I could tell what I need to know in less than 90 seconds. I am sick and tired of feeling like I’ve been hoodwinked into sitting through somebody’s “important” presentation just to find out that they want $37 to tell me the real secret to success, or to tell me something I already knew, or even to give me one almost important thing in a sea of meaningless or redundant blah blah.

Now several people lately have been telling me that video posts are the freaking future. They claim that I can crank out a video post in half the time it takes me to type, grammar check, spell check, edit, and make sure I actually make sense in writing. I think that’s just got to be a lie! Even in a video post, if you want to get that “actually make sense” thing going on, you’ll need some sort of script or outline. And even if that’s 4 lines scribbled on a sticky note stuck to your notebook computer next to the camera, it takes time. Do you honestly think this happened with no rehearsal and no script?

For that matter, there’s a “looking presentable” thing. It’s going to take time to make sure you look decent, and that there’s nothing behind you that you don’t mind being seen across the interwebs. Am I in my pajamas? For the record, no, but you’ve got no way of knowing! Some video bloggers get around this actually having to get out of their pajamas by creating little PowerPoint-like slides that reinforce their point. Again, you’re losing the time savings and boosting the tech requirements to get rolling. And really, does anybody like PowerPoint?

Finally, putting stuff in writing makes it easier to quote you. It’s just “copy” and “paste”. Nobody has to listen 4 times to make sure the wording is right, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to find the quote in text rather than by trying to remember whether that good bit was at minute 16 or minute 27.

Look, if you can’t at least tell me what you’re going to say in a few sentences (I’m not even asking for a transcript), you’ve got nothing to say to me. It’s called a summary. You learned about them in second grade. If you insist on audio and video posts — and that includes podcasts! — you’d better have one or I’m closing the tab.

In Closing: Keeping you up to date on Sharron Angle (sorry, I’m from Las Vegas now); I’m with Digby on strategic default among the wealthy; on consumer credit and American exports; on immigrants and the work they do (truth is that some employers prefer easily exploited workers who are worried more about deportation than OSHA regs or minimum wage laws); does this look like something you would want to eat??; how to make real coin; and Marines fight bad guys but save cuddly animals.

Shorties Saga: Eclipse

Ok, the title was kinda a cheap one.

Solar Airplane!: “The organizers said the flight was the longest and highest by a piloted solar-powered craft, reaching an altitude of just over 28,000 feet above sea level at an average speed of 23 knots, or about 26 miles per hour.” The biggest problems were drinking water that froze and an iPod battery that ran out. Maybe he could have used a solar powered MP3 player!

How to reduce unemployment, Republican style:
Ed Stein

Susie’s Right: Maybe paying attention to the base instead of the cash, the cash and the votes will take care of themselves.

Comrade E.B. Misfit is right too: on Declining Sales and Spying on Americans (which seems to me a colossal waste of resources).

Roman Treasure: Amateur with a metal detector stumbles on thousands of rare old coins.

Well, I guess I’m willing to give up on ever being on MSNBC too: No really, a female employee was once found dead on the floor of then Congressman Joe Scarborough’s office. It’s true! And then the strange part happened.

Shoppers are back, but they’re picky: 10 months of retail gains, but things aren’t improving as fast as experts thought they would (or as fast as retailers would like).

Another Cartoon About Republicans (Because I Feel Like it):

Rob Rogers

Yeah, but you have to do business with Chase: Chase is offering discounted interest to small businesses that borrow money and then hire new employees. Interesting that they are trolling for “qualified” borrowers. I wonder how hard it is to actually qualify for the program.

This is going to be a mess: New reporting rules that were stealthily placed into the health insurance reform bill would require small businesses to report and file a form 1099 on any vendor from whom they bought more than $700 of goods or services. For example, I will have to report my office rent, my cell phone bill, and probably my office supplies. I might be able to get around reporting my NAR membership because the money gets split between national, state, and local organizations. Sounds like the “Put IRS Agents and Accountants To Work Act”. Hat tip to Jukkou-san, sorry it took so long to find an authoritative source.

Raise interest rates?: That’s what Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig says. His reasoning is that the economy is growing and rates are too close to 0% now. I agree, but for different reasons.

And Finally: Look out for sub-standard olive oil. I honestly don’t know what to tell you other than to make sure you trust your supplier, sniff it before you use it, and hope.

Twist the Facts

Yesterday morning, I wrote a post over at Age Against the Machine on British research showing that oral contraceptives reduce women’s risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease. Those happen to be the top two causes of death for American women, so it’s a big deal. And we aren’t talking about some teeny study, but over 46,000 women in a study that went on for 39 years. I think this is good news for the vast majority of women!

Yet I could not help but think that this news might not be welcomed by all. After all, there is a segment of our society that might think this encourages promiscuity. When I ran this past my partner, he thought that was just nuts.

But unfortunately, we live in a society where parents withhold vaccines that could someday save a woman’s life not because of safety concerns with the vaccine itself, but because they think she might think it’s ok to have sex (because good girls don’t like sex, good girls are never sexually assaulted, and good girls certainly never have cheating husbands). We live in a society where pharmacists who should know better are arbitrarily deciding not to dispense oral contraceptives because of “moral objections” and/or the mistaken belief that they can cause “abortion” of an embryo that has not implanted (never mind the other medical indications for oral contraceptives, and never mind that these pills prevent pregnancy rather than end it; arguably they prevent abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancy). We live in a society where the so-called-pro-life crowd thinks abortion causes breast cancer. We live in a society where some people value the lives of embryos more than the lives of full-grown adult women and their families.

So yes, I expect this study to be either ignored, mis-quoted, or mis-used by the Religious Right. They will focus on the small but unexplained increased risk of death by accident or violence — See? The Pill increases your risk of [violent] death! —¬† if they acknowledge the research at all.

Mere minutes after posting, I found this article at the Christian Science Monitor — hardly a “liberal media” source — with the headline “High divorce rates and teen pregnancy are worse in conservative states than liberal states.” It turns out that educated women and access to contraceptives lead to greater family stability and fewer unwed or teen mothers than “that old time religion.” Yet the Religious Right¬† has hamstrung both trends by getting the Feds to go along with “abstinence only” sex ed, which not only doesn’t work, fails to teach about contraceptives and disease control, and outright lies to children, but attempt to reinforce very outdated gender roles.

And then I read about how the Texas State Board of Education has decided to re-write history, decreeing what may and may not appear in textbooks. Sure, the Civil War was about “states rights” — specifically the right of states to say it’s ok to own other human beings! Sadly, Texas is a large enough textbook market that students around the country may be subjected to this ultra-conservative, highly Protestant, reinterpretation of reality.

You can say what you like about reality, but you can’t change it.

In Closing: 30! 30 bank failures this year, ah ha ha ha! (reference); fattiest fast foods; mortgage insurance providers say “sorry, we won’t cover this fraudulent claim“; obligatory health insurance reform items (notice I don’t call it health care reform, or worse yet HCR which always makes me think HRC instead) includes Go Grayson Go! Put them on the spot of either saying yes to a real public option, or going on the record as being against Medicare!; oh sure, let’s make it more complicated; what recovery?; Oh No! Obama’s Liberal base is “disengaged!” Could that be because they’ve kicked it in the butt at every opportunity?; most Americans think Wall Street needs better (i.e., more) regulation; for that matter, most Americans would like to see the Government make some progress on anything; don’t take the battery for granted; median wealth, $5; and Blog Against Theocracy weekend is coming.