We’ve got the usual suspects with the usual kinda stuff going on right now. Let’s check out some headlines together!
Here’s a great read from The Nation: Inequality Is (Literally) Killing America.
Only a few miles separate the Baltimore neighborhoods of Roland Park and Upton Druid Heights. But residents of the two areas can measure the distance between them in years—twenty years, to be exact. That’s the difference in life expectancy between Roland Park, where people live to be 83 on average, and Upton Druid Heights, where they can expect to die at 63.
Underlying these gaps in life expectancy are vast economic disparities. Roland Park is an affluent neighborhood with an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, and a median household income above $90,000. More than 17 percent of people in Upton Druid Heights are unemployed, and the median household income is just $13,388.
It’s no secret that this sort of economic inequality is increasing nationwide; the disparity between America’s richest and poorest is the widest it’s been since the Roaring Twenties. Less discussed are the gaps in life expectancy that have widened over the past twenty-five years between America’s counties, cities and neighborhoods. While the country as a whole has gotten richer and healthier, the poor have gotten poorer, the middle class has shrunk and Americans without high school diplomas have seen their life expectancy slide back to what it was in the 1950s. Economic inequalities manifest not in numbers, but in sick and dying bodies.
On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders convened a hearing before the Primary Health and Aging subcommittee to examine the connections between material and physiological well-being, and the policy implications. With Congress fixed on historic reforms to the healthcare delivery system, the doctors and public health professionals who testified this morning made it clear that policies outside of the healthcare domain are equally vital for keeping people healthy—namely, those that target poverty and inequality.
Many folks like to blame technology for the dive in wages for the middle class. A new study shows that’s not the case so “Don’t blame the Robots” for wage inequality. Check out the executive summary.
Many economists contend that technology is the primary driver of the increase in wage inequality since the late 1970s, as technology-induced job skill requirements have outpaced the growing education levels of the workforce. The influential “skill-biased technological change” (SBTC) explanation claims that technology raises demand for educated workers, thus allowing them to command higher wages—which in turn increases wage inequality. A more recent SBTC explanation focuses on computerization’s role in increasing employment in both higher-wage and lower-wage occupations, resulting in “job polarization.” This paper contends that current SBTC models—such as the education-focused “canonical model” and the more recent “tasks framework” or “job polarization” approach mentioned above—do not adequately account for key wage patterns (namely, rising wage inequality) over the last three decades. Principal findings include:
1. Technological and skill deficiency explanations of wage inequality have failed to explain key wage patterns over the last three decades, including the 2000s.
Changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules are driving the villagers wild!! Here’s a headline from WAPO: Reid, Democrats trigger ‘nuclear’ option; The new rules eliminate most filibusters on nominees.
Senate Democrats took the dramatic step Thursday of eliminating filibusters for most nominations by presidents, a power play they said was necessary to fix a broken system but one that Republicans said will only rupture it further.
Democrats used a rare parliamentary move to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been the standard for nearly four decades.
The immediate rationale for the move was to allow the confirmation of three picks by President Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — the most recent examples of what Democrats have long considered unreasonably partisan obstruction by Republicans.
In the long term, the rule change represents a substantial power shift in a chamber that for more than two centuries has prided itself on affording more rights to the minority party than any other legislative body in the world. Now, a president whose party holds the majority in the Senate is virtually assured of having his nominees approved, with far less opportunity for political obstruction.
There’s a lot of upside for Republicans in how this went down. It came at a time when Republicans control the House and are likely to do so for the duration of President Obama’s second term, so the weakening of the filibuster will have no effect on the legislation Democrats can pass. The electoral map, the demographics of midterm elections, and the political problems bedeviling Democrats make it very likely that Mitch McConnell will be majority leader come 2015 and then he will be able to take advantage of a weakened filibuster. And, finally, if and when Republicans recapture the White House and decide to do away with the filibuster altogether, Democrats won’t have much of an argument when they try to stop them.
Meawhile, back in a state where “Obamacare” is actually being implented …”Nearly 80,000 Californians sign up for Obamacare plans“.
The latest data, which charts enrollment from the October 1 start through November 19, means that about 20,000 more people signed up for plans since the exchange’s initial update on its enrollment released November 13.
California, which is the most populous U.S. state and embraced the Affordable Care Act early on, is considered a crucial region for the administration’s enrollment effort. The state is one of 14 operating their own exchanges, as opposed to relying on the federal government.
Last week, the U.S. government released initial data showing that 106,000 people had enrolled in new exchanges nationwide from October 1 through November 2. California’s enrollment amounted to about one-third of all sign-ups during that period and outnumbered the combined tallies of all 36 states that use the faulty HealthCare.gov website operated by the federal government.
Covered California also released data on Thursday showing that nearly 23 percent of the sign-ups during the first month of enrollment were 18 to 34 years old, while 34 percent were 55 to 64 years old.
Those age breakdowns are in line with other early data released by four other state exchanges, showing that more older adults have signed up for the new plans than younger Americans so far.
The age balance is being closely watched to determine the financial stability of the insurance market created by the Affordable Care Act, as the participation of younger people is needed to offset costs for sicker beneficiaries. Health policy experts and actuaries told Reuters it was premature to draw any conclusions about the early demographic data.
Well, if you simply must join in on the season, be sure to encourage the stores that don’t steal the family turkey dinner time from their employees. Can’t we just simply celebrate Thanksgiving first please?
Never mind that much of the big news this holiday season has been about major retailers, from Walmart to Target to the newest entrant, Macy’s, announcing their Thanksgiving Day shopping hours.
While it can hurt the bottom line for one day, staying closed on Thanksgiving can be a big plus, too. “I appreciate brands that make the gutsy decision to defer some revenue and stay closed,” says brand guru Erika Napoletano. “They’re celebrating their most important asset – their employees.”
It has yet to be proven that the majority of shoppers “really want and need” stores to be open on Thanksgiving, says Sharon Love, a retail consultant. Last year, 35 million Americans visited stores or websites on Thanksgiving vs. 89 million on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.
Families often like to do more than just eat on Thanksgiving, the trade group points out. “Some go to movies. Some go bowling. Some go to football games or to restaurants,” says Bill Thorne, senior vice president. To say that employees at these venues should work but that retail workers shouldn’t “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” he adds.
But staying closed on Thanksgiving makes perfect sense to Nordstrom, which has done just that since 1901.
“Our customers appreciate us taking this approach,” says spokesman Colin Johnson. He adds that no holiday decorations go up until the store reopens on Black Friday.
Dillard’s also will keep all 299 stores closed on Thanksgiving Day “to honor our associates with their family time,” says spokeswoman Julie Johnson Bull.
Home Depot will keep its nearly 2,000 stores closed, in part, because “this isn’t our make-or-break season like it is for many retailers,” says spokesman Stephen Holmes.
TJX, which owns the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls brands, also will stay dark on Thanksgiving. “We feel so strongly about our employees spending Thanksgiving with their families,” says spokeswoman Doreen Thompson. “And we don’t anticipate this changing in the future.”Nor does Costco, says spokesman Bob Nelson. “We feel no pressure to open on Thanksgiving Day this year, or in subsequent years.”
Here’s a dose of Hillary from Politico.
Hillary Clinton on Thursday argued that women can play a critical role in promoting sustainability while speaking at a Philadelphia event, where she also dealt lightheartedly with what appeared to be a friendly heckler.
“[In] developed countries, we still have to keep knocking barriers down to women’s full participation on boards of companies that make decisions about sustainability, in corporate suites where people make decisions about sustainability,” she said to cheers, speaking at a conference held by the U.S. Green Building Council.
“Now I’m not one who will say automatically that having women involved makes a difference just by the fact of the women being there, but there’s growing evidence that corporations with women in leadership positions, as corporate executives, and in the board, are actually more focused on sustainability.”
So, one of the games I used to hate to play back in the day was who is the biggest she-man feminist of the all. I wasn’t aware back then or now that it was a competition. Here, it is again at Politico. It’s focused on the damned if you do damned if you don’t position of FLOTUS. Hillary was nailed for being out there. Michelle Obama is being nailed for not being out there enough.
The New York Times observed that many of Michelle Obama’s supporters have been itching for her to move beyond “evangelizing exercise and good eating habits,” noting that, despite her widespread popularity, the first lady has long “been derided by critics who hoped she would use her historic position to move more deeply into policy.”
Don’t count on it. As President Obama claws his way through a second term, the sense of urgency for his well-educated wife to do more—to make a difference—may well be mounting. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. In fact, East Wing officials I spoke with stress that Michelle Obama is not about to tap her inner wonk—she will focus on young people, not policy—and while the task of promoting higher ed may be new, speaking directly to kids is simply what Michelle does. Sure enough, in a sit-down with BET’s 106 & Park the week after the Education Department rollout, there was the first lady in full mom mode, lecturing students about nothing more politically controversial than the need to do their homework and get to school on time.
So enough already with the pining for a Michelle Obama who simply doesn’t exist. The woman is not going to morph into an edgier, more activist first lady. The 2012 election did not set her free. Even now, with her husband waddling toward lame duck territory, she is not going to let loose suddenly with some straight talk about abortion rights or Obamacare or the Common Core curriculum debate. Turns out, she was serious about that whole “mom-in-chief” business—it wasn’t merely a political strategy but also a personal choice. “
Wow. I don’t know where to begin on this. This is an article written by someone who decided to put her issues into other women’s mouths. And in Politico, AKA “The Fluffers for The Chamber of Commerce” no less.
At least it will mostly be read by Below The Beltway types.
We’ve seen this technique before on TV news interviews. The correspondent will say to the subject something like, “Some people have said you are a…” and then a list a slew of character assassinations that apparently “Some unnamed people” have said.This article feels like that. Except the sum total of “some people” is her.
http://www.politico.co…Now after you read this, and before you start stabbing your couch, please know that this same writer, was paid to write a piece crowning Sarah Palin as a new feminist icon.
I’m snuggling with the dog as I live through a second evening of a hard freeze What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
In honor of my little poodle, and his surgery today…a quick cartoon post.
(The above cartoon is so…appropriate.)
It sounds sadistic, but I really do love that last one…this is an open thread. I will have the “real” morning post up later on today.
Well, it seems the new research in this latest study is a little more than obvious, at least as it relates to humans…go figure: Stress makes snails forgetful
Researchers from the University of Exeter and the University of Calgary trained snails and found that when they were exposed to multiple stressful events they were unable remember what they had learned.
Previous research has shown that stress also affects human ability to remember. This study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that experiencing multiple stressful events simultaneously has a cumulative detrimental effect on memory.
Dr Sarah Dalesman, a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, from the University of Exeter, formally at the University of Calgary, said: “It’s really important to study how different forms of stress interact as this is what animals, including people, frequently experience in real life. By training snails, and then observing their behaviour and brain activity following exposure to stressful situations, we found that a single stressful event resulted in some impairment of memory but multiple stressful events prevented any memories from being formed.”
Interesting…but what I find really fascinating is this next nugget of information:
The pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, has easily observable behaviours linked to memory and large neurons in the brain, both useful benefits when studying memory processes. They also respond to stressful events in a similar way to mammals, making them a useful model species to study learning and memory.
Scientists trained the snails to not to breathe air as often as they usually do…you can read how they do this at the link. Turns out when stressful conditions were added to the mix, the snails would forget to breathe the way they had been trained.
This is an open thread.
As that title plainly states, by chance, my internet service is up and running…although I don’t know how long it will last….so I better make this short and quick.
Before I get to the cartoons, a few real cool ass links for you.
Pilots open beer bottles while operating their helicopters at a flying tournament in China.
Yes, you read that right…
Look closely….that ain’t a dog.
Young Francis Darwin drew this cute picture on the back of one of only 28 manuscript pages of On the Origin of Species still known to exist.
The cute drawing above is by young Francis Darwin, which he drew on the back of one of the manuscript pages and shows two figures facing each other in battle, one on a stale potato and the other on what appears to be a giant carrot crossed with a dog!
and….one more. Check out this massive ongoing project: allthebuildingsinnewyork
An attempt to draw all the buildings in New York by James Gulliver Hancock, an illustrator originally from Australia currently based in Brooklyn, New York.
I cannot express how fun I think those drawings are. Canal St has a charm all its own but I can’t wait to see his take on Hanover Square, and when he does that special little spot of Manhattan I’ll be sure to let you know.
Now for the cartoons…
I ended with that Bagley one because today was SNAP day, as in: lets snap the backs of the poor by cutting their food stamp funding even more!
This is an open thread.
Hey, I have wanted to get back to writing the evening read threads…last night Dak beat me to it. Tonight here is a quick post on a the topic of women…horror flicks and medieval queenship.
First a video treat, a little tribute to some of those favorite Final Girls from horror movies past. A Video Tribute to Horror’s Best ‘Final Girls’ — Vulture
If you’re a lady and you’re in a horror flick, there’s no higher honor than being the Final Girl. It’s a title reserved for a female character who outlives her companions, takes on the big bad killer, and kicks his/her/its butt into oblivion (or at least into the next sequel). Film theorist Carol J. Clover coined the term in 1992, but Final Girls have been wielding knives, running through hallways, and delivering killing blows since at least the seventies. With Halloween around the corner, we put together this rockin’ tribute to some of Hollywood’s greatest Final Girls, from Jamie Lee Curtis to Neve Campbell and beyond. Stab on, ladies!
Go to the link and check it out…I think they are missing a few whack jobs, but it is fun to watch.
Next up, this blog post about how fashion icon Edith Head influenced the Hitchcock Heroine and later, the fashion of today. From the GlamAmor blog: Interview with ELLE CANADA on Influence of the Hitchcock Heroine + Film Noir Style | GlamAmor
To those who follow GlamAmor, it will come as no surprise that the style of film noir and the Hitchcock Heroine act as ongoing influences in fashion. Edith Head, costume designer extraordinaire best known for her work with Alfred Hitchcock, is a hero of mine and huge influence on my own style. Rear Window was an absolute vision to me (and many others) and Edith followed it with more iconic work such as To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, and The Birds. Edith and Hitchcock had a near perfect partnership for their similar visions of style–clean lines, tailored fit, and controlled pops of color. Though femininity was becoming much more overt and revealing in the 1950s, both felt that suggestions of sex should be subtle and left largely to the imagination.
That is just the first paragraph, go see the rest at the link….cool pictures too.
And finally…from Medieval.net: Queenship in Medieval Europe, by Theresa Earenfight
An excerpt from Queenship in Medieval Europe:
The hundreds of articles and books published since 1993 clearly show that far from being ancillary, queens were fundamental to the smooth running of a realm. A queen was more than just a ruler or a mother, so much so that she needed an adjective to clarify precisely who she was and what she did. A queen who governed in her own right might be called ‘female king’, ‘sole queen’, or a ‘female monarch’ who exercised ‘kingly power’ or ‘regal power’, or an ‘autonomous monarch’. She was a queen-consort when she married a king, a queen-mother when she bore his children, a queen-regent when she governed for or with her husband and possessed ‘female sovereignty’. When her husband died, she was queen-dowager. To complicate matters, a queen could be some, or all, in sequence or simultaneously.
Only a regnant queen or empress stood alone. All other queens stood beside a king. A queen-consort’s proximity to the king was central to her identity and all that she did as queen. When she was physically where the king was, his acts and decisions could be approved, mediated, or contended by the queen – because custom and tradition accepted that the queen was a partner in governing the realm, no matter what form the partnership took. As a regent or lieutenant, she stood in his place while he was physically elsewhere. A queen was a nexus between a king and his subjects, a symbol of how royal dynasty can create social cohesion and form alliances.
But, just as queens embodied the unity of realm or people, they also embodied the same forces – family, foreign birth – that might tear that unity apart. It was a precarious spot, situated both inside and outside official power, that placed queens-consort in a perilous position during a crisis. They were easy scapegoats for disgruntled enemies, or for anyone more interested in self-protection than guarding the realm or the royal family. There is no more vivid sign of the power of proximity than when a king orders the exile or imprisonment of a queen.
That is an excerpt from a book Queenship in Medieval Europe | Theresa Earenfight | Macmillan If you look on the Medieval.net link you can see a coupon code for 20% off…in case anyone is looking for something to read on these chilly fall nights.
This is an open thread.