Burying the Shorties

Hey folks. Post server update, things are starting to get back to normal around here. BlogHer ads are running again. No luck setting up an appropriate header image that doesn’t obliterate text. Blogroll will be updated relatively soon, as it did not survive the transition. Posting as been light here because of a school blog project (which I will probably repost over here). In the meantime, please enjoy some delicious Shorties.

Shut them all down!: The resignation of Boehner might make a government shutdown more likely (because there’s not a grown-up to reign in the crazies), unless it doesn’t. Here’s somebody who knows more about economics than I do talking about what will happen if they actually do shut it all down.

On Poverty: It’s hard to consider the future when today is a pressing issue.

On Jobs and Wages: So here’s some information on job creation during various Presidential administrations. Also, it looks like Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has been a success… unless of course there isn’t actually enough data yet to tell. And let’s add some wisdom on tax cuts and jobs and wages.

Student Loans: Defaults are just a symptom of the real problems.

A brief guide to vaccinations: Written by a real doctor.

As if I don’t have enough to worry about: the FCC can can operating systems they don’t like?

Uber making up more of their own rules: National Labor Relation Board (you remember, which some Republicans want to scrap?) vs Fine Print.

The NSA: Oh no, I haven’t forgotten about them and neither should you.

So much for biometric security: 56,000,000 fingerprint records “lost” and potentially in the hands of Bad Guys? You know, unlike a credit card number, you can’t just apply for a new fingerprint! Mr. Cringely puts it best: Game Over.

Gee, imagine that: Fruits and vegetables are good for your mind as well as your body. Remember, the Government’s MyPlate recommendations can be briefly summarized as “half your plate should be fruits and veggies.” (The Food Pyramid? That old thing was torn down years ago!)

I’m not Catholic Either: But I pretty much agree. I will never agree with Pope Francis about everything, but in my opinion he’s still the best Pope we’ve had in my lifetime.

Something Every Person Needs to Know: Be on the lookout for people who are trying to manipulate you. Especially when it comes to intimate relationships. And salesmen.

The Atticus Shorties

Indiana: Taken to absurdity (as if it weren’t already there).

Won’t Somebody Think of the Children: testing, 1, 2, 3….

Things People Say: to women.

I bet I know a way to create some jobs: repair some bridges.

Sobering Statistic: On average, 3 people were killed every day in March — by police.

Aw, you know I wouldn’t skip this part: a few choice NSA and privacy links for you, and one bonus TSA item.

Both ends of the spectrum: top and bottom.

A few choice words: on Christianity. Bonus track from the Pope.

I Don’t Know How I’ve Overlooked This: Sandwich Monday.

And Let’s Finish with Vegas under a Full Moon: Enjoy.

The Woman in Shorties

I Tell You What: These days, writing anything cogent about torture is, well, you know.

Important Medical Research: Somebody found out why the doctor’s waiting room has mostly out-of-date magazines.

Does it seem like toys are more gender specific these days?: Well, you’re right.

Pope Francis has had a busy week: Brokering international deals, condemning slavery, and he’s still got to work on Christmas.

Just for the record: I am already freaking sick and tired of speculation about the 2016 Presidential Elections. The fact that these guys (and a couple of ladies) are already jockeying for position is disgusting and evidence that the system is terribly broken. Seriously, my calendar still says 2014; Iowa is still over a year away. I still think my simplification plan could work, particularly paired with my campaign finance reform plan…. Here’s some nice candidate trivia for you.

Above the Law: Uber finally condescended to obey a court order and stop working in Portland. Portland being Portland, they’re trying to find some way to work with Uber. In the meantime, some insight into what happened in Nevada, and their business structure. Yeah, maybe they should play by the rules. The big news is an alleged sexual assault by an Uber driver on an Uber rider in Boston. I am not going to link it as an “I told you so” because I think that the whole model has bigger problems than finding Bad Apples.

Wealth, Jobs, and the Economy: Ok, really more like inequity, bad trade deals, bad jobs deals, controlling the media you watch, and being watched.

And Finally: Boobs and Man Soap.

A Revisit

Back in September I did a little item on a few TV shows. I thought it would be a good idea to follow up.

Madam Secretary: Sorry, stopped watching after the first episode. It’s opposite Brooklyn 99, which is actually entertaining.

Gotham: Still watching, still loving it. They’ve backed off on Jim Gordon’s partner, who is now Harvey Bullock. Harvey Dent arrives in tomorrow’s episode. Penguin is wonderfully sociopathic. Ed Nygma is developing a backstory. The girl with the green goggles? That’s Selena “Cat” Kyle. And it turns out that Alfred is a badass.

Scorpion: Oh my [deity] this show is hilariously awful. The premise of one episode was “terrorists are trying to blow up the internet.” Last week, they were unraveling a plot to kill people to keep secret the fact that a number of top hit songs were in fact written by a sure-fire hit-writing computer program. Hello, welcome to twenty years ago. Computers are very good at writing music. Just listen to what this guy can make a computer do!

This show is allegedly based on a true story. Grimm’s Fairy Tales are more realistic.

In Closing: Pope Francis continues to do good things; violence; poverty; kill the postman.

Shorties Fright

The Monk who Saved Lives: Ittetsu Nemoto.

The Priest who Preached Happiness: Let’s hear it once more for Pope Francis.

Israel and Palestine: Just a few assorted and random links.

You know you want it: Here’s the NSA, privacy, FBI, CIAWar on Terror, and related links.

Broken:  immigration and immigration reform problems.

Wow: Larry Kudlow seems to have found his lost mind.

All about the Jobs: We did have good jobs numbers this week. Let’s put it in perspective.

Research supports my observation:  Indeed: “[I]t sure does seem like the vast majority of the people who say diets don’t work have somewhere in their story a sentence like ‘I went on my first diet when I was 13.’ Or 11. Or 16.”

Fiddling while America Burns: Congress is too busy making baseless lawsuits and running out of town, so they can’t be bothered to fund things like fighting forest fires.

Want to know the interesting thing about this article?: This article about events that empower girls by reinforcing gender stereotypes was written by a man.

And finally: Keep it clean, people.

Oh, make up your mind already!

Oh no! The Millennials can’t afford to buy houses!

Oh yeah! The Millennials will soon be buying houses!

Oh wait! It turns out that when we say the Millennials are living at home with their parents, we meant they were living in dorms!

Oh heck! The unemployment rate among Millennials is 40% — and that’s people who are actually looking for jobs (rather than going to school and living in the dorms)! I guess cancel that house-buying boom.

Meanwhile, despite AP propaganda telling us how wonderful the economy is, we have millions of people who need some form of government aid (sure, Fox News, blame the people instead of the reality they live in) and a big problem in how our “great” economy is paying for itself. The disconnect between the economy as seen from the top and as seen from anyplace up can be seen in this graph, meant to demonstrate the difference between “average” and “median” net worth. I guess that’s how we ended up with a couple millionaires arguing about which one is poorer.

I wonder how long we can keep going like this.

In Closing: your regular shot of NSA and privacy related stories; speaking of guys I’m surprised are still alive, Ahmed Chalabi; a modern sin; not sure what I think of this; and how the Dow works.

The Last Will and Shorties of Rosalind Leigh

On Education: Children living in poverty are everywhere, and standardized tests are not ready for them. For pity sake, we’re wasting time teaching kids who are still figuring out how to hold a pencil how to fill in little bubbles on scantrons. All hail the holy power of earning a completion certificate degree.

On Spying on American Citizens: Hilary says we need an adult conversation. Good luck in a world where we are all apparently afraid there’s a terrorist under the bed. But if they can track all Americans (illegally), how are they going to sort through enough information to find anything useful? Unless the goal is to be able to blackmail every single one of us? No wonder Snowden doesn’t think the internal reporting system works. There’s hope for reform, but it still looks like whitewashing to me.

Fat People with Thin Skins: Apparently don’t understand how the Unfollow button works.

Coolest Pope since Ever: Sold Harley, gave proceeds to charity.

On the working poor: It’s more than possible to work full time and still live in poverty. Some argue that the low wages paid to fast food workers turns into high profits for companies and high taxes for the rest of us who must subsidize their food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance. Then the poor have to put up with food stamp systems that go down, and risk losing their job for helping a fellow human being.

Whatever Happened to Vanilla Ice?: He cleaned himself up, realized he owned a bunch of property, fixed it up, and started hanging out with the Amish.

On Republicans: When Pat Robertson says your too extreme, it might be time to revisit your views. I’m still a little worried that the current “dialog” on a budget is going to turn into “dialog” on how we “have to” cut Social Security, Medicare, and anything else that doesn’t directly help rich people and/or influential Congresscritters.

Common Misconceptions: Enjoy.

Bankrupt, yet record profits?: How does that work, American Airlines??

Yeah, we could use some good news: Iran appears to want to talk like sensible people about nukes.

Human Rights: the comic.

And now for something adorable: 4 new cubs at a Vegas lion habitat.

On Poverty

Let me begin by apologizing for the recent lack of substance around here. Between classwork and increasing frustration with both political parties, it’s been hard to get inspired.

So, poverty is up again this year. It’s almost un-news this time. Reuters calls it “the latest sign that an economic recovery marked by a stock market boom has not trickled down to ordinary Americans.” Not just the sign or a sign: the latest sign. And gee, surprise surprise, keeping the interest rate that banks can charge one another low doesn’t seem to help Joe Average pay his bills! Imagine that! Here’s some facts for you:

Numbers released this week by the Census Department show exactly how pervasive poverty is in the U.S. To be defined as poor by the government, a single person can earn no more than $11,490 per year, while for a family of four the threshold is $23,550. About 46.5 million Americans, or 1 in 7, lived at or below that level last year. Extend the definition just slightly to 125 percent of the poverty level — $14,362 for one person and $29,437 for a family of four — and the ratio drops to 1 in 5, fully 20 percent of the population.

Almost 42 percent of U.S. households below the poverty line are headed by single women, that’s up from 28 percent in 2007. Many of the people who live close to or below the poverty line have jobs: More than 30 percent of working-age adults earning 125 percent of the poverty line or less worked year-round in 2012, according to the Census Bureau. Roughly a quarter of the officially impoverished worked part-time, while 5.5 percent worked full-time. Nearly 9 percent of those working part-time earned less than half of the poverty level.

So no, we aren’t talking about lazy slobs who don’t want to work. We’re talking about 1 out of every 7 people you’re likely to encounter on the street, more if you know people of color. Even if you live in some “nice” suburb somewhere. And for those people, advice like “Max your 401k contribution” or “have savings of at least three months of living expenses” are sick jokes. How do you save that kind of money when you aren’t even sure you’ll cover the rent on the first of the month?

The Japan Times recently published a commentary titled “Politicians hardly ever mention America’s poor.” Now think about that a moment. The Japanese know we have a poverty problem. This isn’t an article about poverty in Bolivia or India, but America and it’s poor. And our politicians are too busy to talk about them. That’s actually probably for the best, seeing as their challenges are often misunderstood, the solutions are sometimes tangential, and Washington appears to be doing their very best to push them [further] under the bus.

And that brings me to food stamps — or as it is officially known, the SNAP program. As we all remember, the House voted to cut $4,000,000,000 ($4 billion with a b, or $4000 million if you’d like to think about how big that is) from SNAP, while the Senate only wants to cut $400,000,000 ($400 M). Mighty nice of them Senators. The House also wants to let states impose work requirements despite the fact that many of the poor have jobs (and many more are disabled) and drug testing (proven to be a waste of money, but it does serve the primary purpose of humiliating the person in poverty further). It’s hard enough to feed yourself on SNAP, but the politicians who never mention the poor directly want to make it harder.

I guess none of them paid much attention to the plot of last year’s critically acclaimed movie, Les Misérables. Desperate people do desperate things.

I’m not a Catholic by any stretch of the imagination, but I do believe Pope Francis speaks words Jesus would have approved of when he said “We want a just [economic] system that helps everyone.”

In Closing:like “will cost much less than expected”; perspective; I bet more of us use math regularly than play football regularly; “The Tithe” is worth reading, here’s part one; maybe the start of a someday HIV cure?; and may you never have to choose which bills go unpaid.