Daily Archive: 09/02/2015

Sep 02 2015

Dispatches From Hellpeckerville- They Don’t Want To Tell You About Their Summer

Both my boys went back to school this week, and both were met with assignments with some demands for information about their summer. For the first time ever, they don’t want to share that. Their grandmother died. No, it wasn’t the only thing that happened, but it dominated. The aftermath made for a slow, muted summer, and also made for the fist time I didn’t have one picture to send back to school of Dan doing any summer activity at all. My bad.

Dan will say it, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to write about it, maybe he would, but I’m not going to make him. He spent his free time this summer mostly on art and the computer. I have to say that I wasn’t happy with everything he drew, some of it was dark, but he was processing the first death he’s ever experienced, and we talked, he’s okay. He does miss my mom. I hope they just let him say his summer was fine and let it go.

For Baboo it’s worse, I think. He’s expected to write something for several different classes, and he’s trying to do that without mentioning the big event. It’s easy enough to write about the books he’s read for summer, he always reads more than enough and there’s plenty to recap, but his summer? Oh, there’s slim pickings there. Stoogefest, visiting Aunt Sissy, and….? Not a helluva lot more.

We didn’t spend our entire summer draped in crepe, wailing and crying, we just took things slow. We did stand out front and watch the fireworks, but like everything all summer, it was the first time without Mom, and we all felt it. I have a hard time writing about it, why would I want them to have to do it?

Aside from that, some things are theirs. Some things are personal. Their grief, their feelings, and this year–how they spent their summer.

Sep 02 2015

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Huevel: Memo to Fed: Don’t Raise Interest Rates

The Fed needs to stop worrying about stemming inflation that doesn’t exist and keep the focus on the jobs we need.

 The Federal Reserve governors really want to raise interest rates. For months, they’ve signaled that they are likely to start gradually raising them this fall. Interest rates have been near zero since the “Great Recession.” Unemployment is down. The economy is setting new records for consecutive months of growth. Raising rates would declare that we’re back to normal.

There’s only one problem: The economy may be recovering, as the White House and many economists tell us, but most Americans aren’t. If the Fed raises interest rates, it will slow an economy that is already growing too slowly and cost jobs in an economy that already produces too few jobs. That will, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz warned in a news conference outside of the Fed’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, add to our already extreme inequality.

 So why raise rates? The Federal Reserve has a mandate-the so-called dual mandate-to sustain maximum employment at stable prices. The Fed has made 2 percent inflation its arbitrary target (a little inflation is needed to guard against slipping into deflation-declining prices that lead the way to recession or worse). But every measure of inflation is below that target. So why even think about raising rates?

Hannah McKinnon: Mixed Messages: President Obama’s Alaskan Climate Trip

On Monday, President Obama and Secretary Kerry are going to Alaska. Their main goal (as we talked about here) is to see the front lines of climate change first hand.

Yet at the same time, in the same region, Royal Dutch Shell is now powering ahead with its newly approved summer 2015 drilling season, thanks to the Obama Administration’s greenlighting of their last remaining permit application about two weeks ago.

The tragic irony should be lost on no one. What message is the President sending? Is the melting Arctic an alarm bell for urgent climate action or a welcome mat for Big Oil?

Anyone who suggests it can be both can’t avoid being labelled a hypocrite.

Michelle Chen: The Global Fight Over Our Drinking Water Is Just Getting Started

And already, people are figuring out successful ways of pushing back against privatization.

Water is an essential natural element, but around the world, it’s also an artificially endangered resource.

That would explain why the nations represented at a recent international conference on water rights in Lagos ranged from remote desert towns with hand-pumped wells to modern public utilities in European cities. Precisely because water is universally in demand, it faces boundless threats of exploitation, in countries rich and poor.

As we reported previously, Lagos has become ground zero for the global water-justice movement, as the city’s residents battle against a pending so-called Public-Private Partnership (PPP). This “development” model, promoted globally by neoliberal policymakers, lets governments contract with private companies to finance investment in water infrastructure, and then funnel them proceeds from future operating revenues.

Elizabeth Renzetti: No Time for Women’s Health in an Age of Austerity

The war waged by political reactionaries and pro-life advocates against Planned Parenthood in the United States is widely known. I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago, and the undercover videos attempting to show the organization in a bad light are only the latest in a longstanding campaign. Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to millions of American women, has been under threat for years. It has always fought back.

What is less well known is that Canadian sexual health clinics, which offer many of the same vital services as their U.S. counterpart (but not abortions), are under similar threat. Earlier this month a group of Canadian sexual health clinics got together to talk about the increasingly difficult obstacles they face, from cuts in funding to harassment by anti-choice opponents to donors who are suddenly spooked by the Planned Parenthood controversy south of the border.

Ghita Schwarz: Growing Momentum to End For-Profit Immigration Detention

Each year, 400,000 immigrants enter the immigration detention system, charged not with crimes but with civil violations of immigration law. Few have lawyers. The Obama Administration has deported more than 2 million immigrants, more than any president in history.  At an annual cost of $2.2 billion per year, immigration detention is the fastest-growing component of the U.S. system of mass incarceration, due in no small part to the increasing influence of private prison contractors, who control 62% of the immigrant detention beds. Private contractors are the exclusive operators of the family detention centers that the Obama Administration has used to jail mothers and children fleeing violence in Central America. The millions they spend each year in lobbying and political contributions shape public policy toward refugees and long-time immigrants alike.

Michele Goldberg: Feminism Does Not Depend on Whether You Take Your Husband’s Name

Changing your name is not a feminist act. At the same time, you have not betrayed feminism if you change your name.

It is true, as the old feminist rallying cry goes, that the personal is political. From the beginning, sexism shapes the most intimate spheres of our lives. It affects the toys we’re given, the behaviors we’re rewarded for, the interests we’re encouraged to pursue. It determines the way we feel in our own skin and present ourselves to the world. If we’re heterosexual, it affects how we relate to our lovers; if we have kids, it can’t help but influence how we raise them.

Because sexism is so interwoven with how we live our lives, it sometimes feels like the transformation of our personal lives is demanded by feminism. This is extremely exhausting, leading to a neurotic level of analysis and justification of our own preferences, motives and interpersonal relationships. Two kinds of personal essays, repeated with nearly infinite variations, manifest this neurosis. One is confessional: I’m a feminist, but I enjoy X, in which X is some traditionally female thing like not working, wearing makeup, being submissive in bed, or doing all the housework. The other is tautological: don’t judge me for doing this traditionally female thing, because it makes me, a feminist, feel good, and thus must be more feminist than it appears.

Sep 02 2015

Clio

You are responsible for this material.  It will be on the test.

Told you.

The new SATs everyone’s kids will be preparing for next spring

Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American

Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015 04:30 AM EST

“Fortune favors the prepared mind,” as Louis Pasteur once said. So as school revs up this month, so do SAT prep classes. Students might be surprised, however, at the amount of time dedicated to visual literacy skills. The increased focus on graphics is designed to prepare an estimated 1.6 million college-bound pupils for the first redesign of the standardized college admissions test in more than a decade. Along with other updates, test takers of the March 2016 exam will encounter graphics not only in the math section as in past years but also in the reading and writing and language portions. Students will be asked to interpret information presented in tables, charts and graphs and to correct text so it accurately describes data found in accompanying figures.

Mounting evidence indicates that such literacy is a key skill for success in college, careers and daily life in general. In an increasingly data-rich world, graphics now pop up routinely in formats ranging from political campaign literature to household bills. “Being a literate consumer of that information is valuable regardless of your career,” says Jim Patterson, an executive director at the College Board, the nonprofit corporation that owns and publishes the SAT.

Education experts agree that students in many developed nations, including the U.S., lack experience with visual data. “Apart from basic x- and y- axis graphs, educators [around the world] don’t sufficiently teach students how to represent information graphically,” says Emmanuel Manalo, a professor of education psychology at Kyoto University in Japan. The SAT’s new focus most likely will nudge educators to shift their lesson plans accordingly. Students, in other words, won’t be the only ones with bubble charts or scatter plots on the mind this fall-teachers will, too.

The intellectual work required to interpret a graph taxes our brain more than the effort involved in reading the same information presented as text, according to a new study by Manalo and two researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

So why do we do info-graphics again?  Oh, that’s right.  It makes it easier to lie and obfuscate.

Sep 02 2015

It’s worse than that. He’s dead Jim!

As TPP Grinds To A Halt, Asian Countries Start Focusing On Rival Trade Agreement RCE

by Glyn Moody, Tech Dirt

Tue, Sep 1st 2015 3:28am

Techdirt has written dozens of stories about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). That’s largely because it seemed to be coming to a conclusion, after many years of negotiations, and so it was important to capture the last-minute twists and turns — and the dirty deals — as they happened. But as we reported a few weeks ago, that final breakthrough and completion never happened. Instead, we had the “Maui meltdown”, when a whole bunch of old and new problems raised their heads, with the result that TPP may have missed a key deadline that means it won’t be happening soon, if ever. That may have seemed an extravagant claim, but it is a sentiment that is gradually beginning to spread among commentators in Asia.



Techdirt introduced the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) back in June, pointing out that it could end up even worse than TPP. But while TPP is at a standstill, RCEP seems to be moving forwards



The biggest difference between TPP and RCEP is that China is part of the latter, but not of the former, while for the US, it’s the other way around. China therefore has a big incentive to make RCEP happen quickly, and seems to be grasping the opportunity opened up by TPP’s latest problems.



RCEP has a big advantage in that it is not trying to define an ambitious set of new trading rules, as TPP is, but instead is merely attempting to harmonize existing trade agreements among RCEP’s 16 nations, which also include another major economy absent from TPP — India.

Sep 02 2015

The Breakfast Club (Heroes)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Japan signs surrender, officially ending World War II; Union forces occupy Atlanta during the Civil War; A great fire ravages medieval London; Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh dies; Wreckage of the Titanic found.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.

Bob Dylan

Sep 02 2015

The Breakfast Club (Heroes)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Japan signs surrender, officially ending World War II; Union forces occupy Atlanta during the Civil War; A great fire ravages medieval London; Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh dies; Wreckage of the Titanic found.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.

Bob Dylan

Sep 02 2015

The Breakfast Club (Heroes)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Japan signs surrender, officially ending World War II; Union forces occupy Atlanta during the Civil War; A great fire ravages medieval London; Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh dies; Wreckage of the Titanic found.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.

Bob Dylan

Sep 02 2015

On This Day In History September 2

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 2 is the 245th day of the year (246th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 120 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1969, America’s first automatic teller machine (ATM) makes its public debut, dispensing cash to customers at Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York. ATMs went on to revolutionize the banking industry, eliminating the need to visit a bank to conduct basic financial transactions. By the 1980s, these money machines had become widely popular and handled many of the functions previously performed by human tellers, such as check deposits and money transfers between accounts. Today, ATMs are as indispensable to most people as cell phones and e-mail.

Several inventors worked on early versions of a cash-dispensing machine, but Don Wetzel, an executive at Docutel, a Dallas company that developed automated baggage-handling equipment, is generally credited as coming up with the idea for the modern ATM. Wetzel reportedly conceived of the concept while waiting on line at a bank. The ATM that debuted in New York in 1969 was only able to give out cash, but in 1971, an ATM that could handle multiple functions, including providing customers’ account balances, was introduced.

ATMs eventually expanded beyond the confines of banks and today can be found everywhere from gas stations to convenience stores to cruise ships. There is even an ATM at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Non-banks lease the machines (so-called “off premise” ATMs) or own them outright.