A few random thoughts about Baltimore

So on one side we have a lot of people saying stuff that boils down to “those people are animals and that’s why they can’t have nice things.”

This attitude ignores the realities on the ground: no jobs, no economic development (because after all who would open a factory there?); a minimum wage that won’t get you above the poverty line and barely allows you to pay rent. Oh yeah, and there’s a teensy weensy double standard in play too.

And hey, why not punish “those people” for daring to want things like the right to get arrested without dying on the way to the station? “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” is for other people?

Sometimes, you need a comic writer or two to put things in perspective.

Of course, it turns out that the situation was at least in part caused by the police — no, not just because they killed somebody. When you show up in riot gear, force adolescents off school busses so they can’t go home, and then wait for trouble, you are the problem and will never be the solution. They came prepared for a problem caused by their own preparation.

And lest we forget that police-delivered death sentences occur in many places around our great country, Raw Story has these “tips”.

In Closing: don’t forget TPP; I bet we’d get “reform” real quick if cops shot up a banker or two; a couple feminism items; really #5 should be first, because you won’t get an interview without it; shipwrecks.

In honor of flu season…

Ok, so by now everyone knows that this year’s flu vaccine isn’t quite as effective as would be desirable. By the way, that’s because the flu virus changes (read: evolves!) quickly. There’s still a few things you can do to reduce your chance of getting the flu. One of the biggest things is almost free and you won’t even need a doctor: wash your hands regularly.

Hand washing — a controversial yet effective technique since 1846. I wish I didn’t have to point out that it’s a good habit.

In Closing: a few items about terror, the internet, and security; point, partially refuted.

 

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.

A Legitimate Question

 

Ok, good for the NFL deciding that beating the **** out of your wife or girlfriend is a bad thing.

But in the interest of fairness, why not suspend any player facing felony charges until everything is settled in the courts? After all, Joe Average would probably lose their job (mostly because of the inability to post bail).

In Closing: Nothing today but poverty in our mediocre economy, and spying on Americans (and others).

Music Monday, Might Be Tuesday: Elementary

Turns out chemistry isn’t as hard as I feared.

In Closing: voice actors; only when it comes to spending that helps normal people; anybody have any idea why our government cares about ISIS/ISIL more than Boko Haram? (Is it just oil? Could there be a faint whiff of racism?); money money money money; I bet he even remembers that Commandment about not killing; and jumping cats.

Music Monday: Excuse me, do those immigrants have visas?

It’s not new, but I can’t listed to the song now without seeing this….

And here’s a bonus cat for you, only 35 seconds long:

 

In Closing: Looks like this judge found a way to ‘splain it; high speed rail coming to Texas; on poverty, wages, debt, and getting by; LEGO scientists; on Congress; a few more items on Israel and Palestine; pollution has reached Antarctica.

Music Monday: Modern Minimalism in March

Last week I introduced everybody to minimalism. Sure, there are “serious” composers doing minimalism, but I think that the dance music community has done a far better job with the genre. Notice the small selection of notes used and the repetition of slightly-changed thematic material. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t go on for a half hour:

 

In Closing: do you really think almost half of black preschoolers do things that warrant a suspension?; drug resistant bacteria are a problem; TPP; happy; random facts; birth control; on minimum wage, you can’t afford to live indoors; those damned tests; and marriage.

A little reasoning

This post may seem a little dry, but bear with me.

  1. Let’s start with a basic premise: There are millions of square feet of retail, office, and light industrial space in this nation, and it all requires cleaning on a regular basis. I think everybody sane should be able to agree on this point.
  2. For practical reasons, most of this space needs to be cleaned when it is not in use. That usually means somebody needs to clean it at night, after closing.
  3. I can think of several very good reasons this work should be done by adults. First — remember that the cleaning is being done after business hours — the cleaning staff needs to be someone that can be trusted with keys. Second, adults have more experience cleaning things in a safe manner. Third, if we really think education is important, young people should be studying and sleeping so they can do good work in school (add the implied “you don’t want to be working as a janitor when you’re 50, do you kid?”). These are just a few reasons off the top of my head; give me a while and I am confident I can come up with more.
  4. I reject the idea that the minimum wage “is for kids who are going to work their way up to a better job” based on the reasoning above. In fact, the original law mandating the existence of a minimum wage said the idea was to create a “minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being, without substantially curtailing employment”.
  5. Adults who work full time jobs deserve a wage that allows them to pay their bills. Ok, the cleaning staff maybe don’t need to drive Ferraris, but they do deserve to be able to pay the rent, the power bill, and still have money for groceries. I don’t see how anybody can say with a straight face that an executive who sits behind a desk all day works harder than the guy who spends the night cleaning the office toilets.
  6. Someone working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at minimum wage earns $15,080 annually. Do the math yourself if you like. That’s no vacations, no getting sick, actually getting scheduled 40 hours every week, and no getting stiffed on hours (I can hear the laughter). The poverty line for a family of two is $15,730. That’s an average across the lower 48; obviously $15,730 is not going to go as far in some areas.

I think it’s fairly obvious that I support raising the minimum wage. You’ve heard news reports over the last few days about how the CBO report on this proposal offers conflicting opinions. It turns out that some of that reporting may be misunderstood. I’m not an economist, but I do know that when people who have a hard time paying the bills, they spend money. And I also know that consumer spending is a major factor in our economy. More people with more money buying spending more money means more demand, and that is a good thing right now. As a bonus, more wages means more taxes collected — including Social Security contributions. Seeing that certain people in Congress are still clutching their pearls about how there’s not enough money in the Federal coffers, that has to be a good thing too.

A special announcement: I have been asked to share a little information with you. If you’ve ever thought that medical coding and billing might be a great new career for you, you should really check out this site and their free ebook.

In Closing: Wheeee, let’s have some fun NSA, NSA, and NSA links to start off (you know, if they had come clean in the first place, we might not still be talking about it months later); flood zone; rich people problems; political reality set in; be careful buying a used car but not for the reason you think; engineering marvel; and the Bobcats.

Music Monday: The Jimmy Webb Principle

In his book, Jimmy Webb tells us that the very best popular songs are actually complete plays in 3 to 5 minutes. We will be exploring that idea for a while on Music Monday, but let’s start with the Master himself….

 

In Closing: I seem to recall Jesus saying something about how the poor would always be with us; a few choice items on dietary choices; now that’s just plain dumb; Janet Yellen; glad I’m not up north; follow-up; oops; bwahahaha; reality check; Cambodia; free house, just add land; and I’m not sure how anybody is dumb enough to think that a for profit company can reduce costs without also reducing service.

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.