Saturday, April 5, 2014

Air Fish!



Tracy Chapman - Talkin' bout a Revolution [High Quality]


Via Daily Kos: 15 things everyone would know if there were a liberal media


Prince Riebus (and apparently many others) still thinks there's a liberal media.
While I share Prince's frustration with the media, as a liberal, I'd like to go on record and state that the media isn't focusing on issues I care about. They seem to be far more focused on entertainment and making money.

Don't believe me?
 photo liberal_media_zps197d95d2.jpg

If you know anyone who still believes in a "liberal media," here's 15 things everyone would know if there really were a "liberal media" (inspired by Jeff Bezos' purchase of The Washington Post):

1. Where the jobs went.
Outsourcing (or offshoring) is a bigger contributor to unemployment in the U.S. than laziness.
Since 2000, U.S. multinationals have cut 2.9 million jobs here while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million. This is likely just the tip of the iceberg as multinational corporations account for only about 20% of the labor force.
When was the last time you saw a front-page headline about outsourcing?

 photo outsourcing_zps2cf6f1b0.jpg
Source: Wall Street Journal via Think Progress.

2.  Upward wealth redistribution and/or inequality.
In 2010, 20% of the people held approximately 88% of the net worth in the U.S. The top 1% alone held 35% of all net worth.

The bottom 80% of people held only 12% of net worth in 2010. In 1983, the bottom 80% held 18% of net worth.

These statistics are not Democrat or Republican. They are widely available to reporters. Why aren't they discussed in the "liberal" media?

 photo ownership_occupy_poster_zps7879609f.jpg
Source: Occupy Posters

3. ALEC.
If there was a corporate organization that drafted laws and then passed them on to legislators to implement, wouldn't you think the "liberal" media would report on them?
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is such an organization. Need legislation drafted? No need to go through a lobbyist to reach state legislatures anymore. Just contact ALEC. Among other things, ALEC is responsible for:
  • Stand Your Ground laws
  • Voter ID laws
  • Right to Work laws
  • Privatizing schools
  • Health savings account bills which benefit health care companies
  • Tobacco industry legislation
Many legislators don’t even change the proposals handed to them by this group of corporations. They simply take the corporate bills and bring them to the legislative floor.
This is the primary reason for so much similar bad legislation in different states.
Hello ... "liberal media" ... over here!!!
They're meeting in Chicago this weekend. Maybe the "liberal media" will send some reporters.

4. The number of people in prison.  
Which country in the world has the most people in prison?
You might think it would be China (with 1+ billion people and a restrictive government) or former Soviets still imprisoned in Russia.
Wrong. The United States has the most people in prison by far of any country in the world. With 5% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the world’s prisoners – 2.3 million criminals. China with a population 4 times our size is second with 1.6 million people in prison.
In 1972, 350,000 Americans were in imprisoned. In 2010, this number had grown to 2.3 million. Yet from 1988 – 2008, crime rates have declined by 25%.
Isn't anyone in the liberal media interested in why so many people are in prison when crime has dropped? WTF "liberal media"?

 photo incarcerated_americans_zpsb7c891bd.jpg
Source: Wikipedia/Justice Policy Institute Report.

5. The number of black people in prison.
In 2009, non-Hispanic blacks, while only 13.6% of the population, accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population.
In 2011, according to FBI statistics, whites accounted for 69.2% of arrests.
Numbers like these suggest a racial bias in our justice system.
To me, this is a much bigger story than any single incident like Travyon Martin. Or, at the very least, why didn't the "liberal media" ever mention this while covering the Martin story?

6. U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world.
The expenditure per person in the U.S. is $8,233. Norway is second with $5,388.
Total amount of GDP spent on health care is also the highest of any country in the world at 17.6 percent. The next closest country is the Netherlands at 12%.
As a liberal, I’d like to ask why the market isn’t bringing down costs. I’d think a "liberal" media might too.

7. Glass-Steagall.
Glass-Steagall separated risky financial investments from government backed deposits for 66 years.
The idea is simple. Banks were prohibited from using your federally insured savings to make risky investments.
Why is this a good idea?
Risky investments should be risky. If banks can use federally insured funds, there is no risk to them. If they win, they win. If they lose, we cover the cost.
Elizabeth Warren does a great job explaining this to the "liberal news" desk at CNBC:




8. Gerrymandering.
When was the last time you saw a front page headline about gerrymandering?
Before the 2010 election, conservatives launched a plan to win control of state legislatures before the census. The idea was to be in power when national congressional districts were redrawn in order to fix them so Republicans would win a majority of districts.
The Redistricting Majority Project was hugely successful. In 2012, Barack Obama was elected President by nearly 3.5 million votes. In Congressional races, Democrats drew nearly 1.4 million more votes than Republicans yet  Republicans won control of the House 234 seats to 201 seats.
How is this possible?
By pumping $30 million into state races to win the legislatures, Republicans redrew state maps in states such as Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Florida and Ohio to place all of the Democrats into just a few districts.
In this manner, Democrats win heavily in a couple districts and lose the rest.
In North Carolina, the statewide vote was 51 percent Democrat and 49 percent Republican yet 9 Republicans won and only 4 Democrats.
Where is your coverage of this vote stealing, "liberal media"? You're willing to cover voter ID laws, why can't you cover real vote stealing?

 photo 5459fab1-8d5b-44e5-a728-b31ed72bf00d_zps9a434c5a.jpg
Source: Mother Jones.

9. The number of bills blocked by Republicans in Congress.
The filibuster has been used a record number of time since Obama was elected President. From 2008-2012, 375 bills weren’t even allowed to come to a vote in the Senate because Republicans threatened the filibuster.
In 2013, during the first 6 months, Congress has only passed 15 bills that were signed into law. This is 8 fewer than in the first 6 months of 2012 and 19 fewer than 2011.
Also, until the Senate recently threatened to reform the filibuster, the GOP had succeeded in holding up 79 of President Obama’s picks to the U.S. Circuit Court and Courts of Appeal. They’re blocking these appointments regardless of qualification.
Where's the coverage? Where are the reporters asking why nothing is getting done?
* crickets *

10. The Citizens' United Supreme Court decision
In a 2011 Hart poll, only 22% of those polled had actually heard of the Citizens’ United decision before taking the survey.
If 77% believe that corporations have more control over our political process than people, why isn't the liberal media talking more about the Citizens’ United decision?

11. Nixon’s Southern Strategy.
The Southern Strategy is a strategy for gaining political power by exploiting the greatest number of ethnic prejudices. Kevin Philips, Republican and Nixon campaign strategist, speaking about this strategy in a 1970 interview with the New York Times:
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that...but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
This strategy has been used since President Johnson and Democrats in Congress passed the Civil Rights Act to build the Republican party. Examples of this strategy were evident as recently as 2008 and 2012 as Republicans took up their assault on Medicaid, Social Security, labor unions, and Obamacare – programs which, though they benefit more white seniors, retirees, women, and children, have been sold to many Americans as handouts to lazy, undeserving blacks and minorities.
Yet you never hear the "liberal media" (at least since the 1970 NY Times) talking about the use of this strategy. At least not like this:
"P (President) emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to." - H.R. Haldeman's diary, President Richard Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff
12. Tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthy. A progressive tax program is designed to tax people very little as they are starting out and progressively increase their rates as they do better.
Republican plans seem designed to do exactly the opposite: shift the tax burden off of the wealthy and onto working people.
Take the repeal of the estate tax. In Ohio this was recently repealed by Republicans. The benefit is only realized by people with estates larger than $338,000 (as the first $338k was exempt) and realized most by people with even wealthier estates.
This also explains why Republicans want to shift the system from income taxes to consumption taxes. Consumption taxes are paid most by those at the bottom as basic consumption remains the same regardless of income.
It also explains why capital gain taxes are so low. Income through capital gains is only taxed at 20% (increased from 15% in 2012) instead of at the rate of other income (closer to 35%).
It also explains why Republicans were so willing to let the payroll tax cut expire. The payroll tax cut benefited people who were getting paid, not those issuing the paychecks. How much fight did you see to save this tax cut?
While tax cuts are sold to us as benefiting everyone, they really benefit a select few at the very top.
If everyone knew who tax cuts really benefit, would so many people vote for them?

13. What's happening to the bees?
40-50% of commercial U.S. bee hives were lost this year to colony collapse disorder.
This seems like an odd one to include, why is this important?
The Agriculture Department says a quarter of the American diet depends on pollination by honeybees.
Dating from 2006, colony collapse disorder is a relatively new problem. More "liberal media" coverage might push the urgency of the issue.
Instead here's a typical media story about bees: Thousands of Bees Attack Texas Couple, Kill Horses.

14. The impact of temporary workers on our economy.
The number of temporary workers has grown by more than 50 percent since the recession ended to nearly 2.7 million.
If freelancers, contract workers, and consultants are included, the number is nearly 17 million workers not directly employed by the companies who hire them. This equals 12 percent of the workforce.
What's the impact of a "just in time" workforce on workers and our economy? How about that for a story "liberal media"?

15. Media consolidation
Six corporations - Time Warner, Disney, News Corporation, Viacom, Comcast, and CBS - control roughly 90% of the media in the U.S.
These companies are in business to make a profit.
This is why you'll find plenty of advertisements in the media. Entertainment? Check. Sports? Definitely. Weather? Yep.
You'll also find plenty of "if it bleeds, it leads" stories designed to hook you in. Vendors, witnesses recall Venice hit-and-run horror. Fort Hood trial turns bizarre as shooter grills witnesses.
There's also plenty of political bickering: Democrats said this, Republicans said that. We let you decide (but we never weigh in with any facts or fact-checking).
What won't you hear? You won't hear the "liberal media" discuss the corporate media.

What to make of this
If the media were "liberal," it would serve the public interest and shine a light on issues like the ones above.
More people would also have a better understanding of global warming, peak oil, population growth, political lobbying, government's role in a functioning economy, how much we spend on the military, and countless other issues.
What you’re more likely to see in the media, however, are stories designed to get you to buy their paper, or watch their show, or listen to their radio station. If it bleeds, it leads. This is why the media is concerned with scandal, celebrities, gossip, and fear.
If anything, our news consists of paid advertisements and outlets too scared of offending anyone to publish much of substance. Investigative journalism is also expensive; entertainment is cheap.
The way this corporate media behaves may not be surprising. I apologize if you feel any of this is beating you over the head.
This Buzzfeed-style list wasn't intended to introduce this idea as new (others have done a much better job), but rather to highlight the sheer absurdity of a "liberal media" for an audience who may not see it.
One way to approach the topic is to simply ask: If we have a "liberal media," where are the liberal stories?

Originally posted to akadjian on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 05:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

Via The Pragmatic Progressive / FB:


Does Money Make You Mean? by NPR/TED Staff


About Paul Piff's TEDTalk




Social psychologist describes how wealth changes behavior and how almost anyone's behavior can change when they're made to feel rich.


About Paul Piff

Paul Piff is a social psychologist at the Univeristy of Claifornia. He studies how wealth — or the lack of wealth — can affect behavior.
His studies include running rigged games of Monopoly, tracking how those who drive expensive cars behave behind the wheel, and even determining that rich people are more likely to take candy from children than the less well-off. He writes, "I have been finding that increased wealth and status in society lead to increased self-focus and, in turn, decreased compassion, altruism, and ethical behavior."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Very, Very Cool!





2010 Curry Stone Design Prize Winner Maya Pedal.mov


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Via JMG: Neil deGrasse Tyson Trolls Creationists


"The Crab Nebula is about 6,500 light years from Earth. According to some beliefs, that’s the age of the whole universe, but if the universe were only 6,500 years old, how could we see light from anything more distant than the Crab Nebula? We couldn’t. To believe in a universe as young as 6,000 or 7,000 years old is to extinguish the light from most of the galaxy, not to mention the light from all the other hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe." - Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, in Sunday's episode of Cosmos, which focused on the speed of light.


Reposted from Joe Jervis

JMG Bumper Sticker Of The Day


 
They're going nuts over at Twitchy. It's a good thing.


Reposted from Joe Jervis

Why I Want To Give Up Teaching

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OP-ED

Why I Want To Give Up Teaching

By Elizabeth A. Natale

Surrounded by piles of student work to grade, lessons to plan and laundry to do, I have but one hope for the new year: that the Common Core State Standards, their related Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing and the new teacher evaluation program will become extinct.

I have been a middle school English teacher for 15 years. I entered teaching after 19 years as a newspaper reporter and college public relations professional. I changed careers to contribute to society; shape young minds; create good and productive citizens; and spend time with youngsters lacking adults at home with time, energy and resources to teach them.

Although the tasks ahead of me are no different from those of the last 14 years, today is different. Today, I am considering ending my teaching career.

When I started teaching, I learned that dealing with demanding college presidents and cantankerous newspaper editors was nothing. While those jobs allowed me time to drink tea and read the newspaper, teaching deprived me of an opportunity to use the restroom. And when I did, I was often the Pied Piper, followed by children intent on speaking with me through the bathroom door.

I loved it!

Unfortunately, government attempts to improve education are stripping the joy out of teaching and doing nothing to help children. The Common Core standards require teachers to march lockstep in arming students with "21st-century skills." In English, emphasis on technology and nonfiction reading makes it more important for students to prepare an electronic presentation on how to make a paper airplane than to learn about moral dilemmas from Natalie Babbitt's beloved novel "Tuck Everlasting."

The Smarter Balance program assumes my students are comfortable taking tests on a computer, even if they do not own one. My value as a teacher is now reduced to how successful I am in getting a student who has eaten no breakfast and is a pawn in her parents' divorce to score well enough to meet my teacher evaluation goals.

I am a professional. My mission is to help students progress academically, but there is much more to my job than ensuring students can answer multiple-choice questions on a computer. Unlike my engineer husband who runs tests to rate the functionality of instruments, I cannot assess students by plugging them into a computer. They are not machines. They are humans who are not fazed by a D but are undone when their goldfish dies, who struggle with composing a coherent paragraph but draw brilliantly, who read on a third-grade level but generously hold the door for others.

My most important contributions to students are not addressed by the Common Core, Smarter Balance and teacher evaluations. I come in early, work through lunch and stay late to help children who ask for assistance but clearly crave the attention of a caring adult. At intramurals, I voluntarily coach a ragtag team of volleyball players to ensure good sportsmanship. I "ooh" and "ah" over comments made by a student who finally raises his hand or earns a C on a test she insisted she would fail.

Those moments mean the most to my students and me, but they are not valued by a system that focuses on preparing workers rather than thinkers, collecting data rather than teaching and treating teachers as less than professionals.

Until this year, I was a highly regarded certified teacher. Now, I must prove myself with data that holds little meaning to me. I no longer have the luxury of teaching literature, with all of its life lessons, or teaching writing to students who long to be creative. My success is measured by my ability to bring 85 percent of struggling students to "mastery," without regard for those with advanced skills. Instead of fostering love of reading and writing, I am killing children's passions - committing "readicide," as Kelly Gallagher called it in his book of that title.

Teaching is the most difficult - but most rewarding - work I have ever done. It is, however, art, not science. A student's learning will never be measured by any test, and I do not believe the current trend in education will lead to adults better prepared for the workforce, or to better citizens. For the sake of students, our legislators must reach this same conclusion before good teachers give up the profession - and the children - they love.
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Elizabeth A. Natale of Glastonbury teaches English and language arts at Sedgwick Middle School in West Hartford.
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Monday, March 31, 2014

And now for something completely different...




The most honest three and a half minutes of television, EVER...


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