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Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Water Cooler

Steal these news links for your social media timeline. Reuse as you wish.

The Unnecessariat (morecrows.wordpress.com). This piece? Whoa. Hits you like a damn brick upside the head. A quick excerpt:
In 2011, economist Guy Standing coined the term “precariat” to refer to workers whose jobs were insecure, underpaid, and mobile, who had to engage in substantial “work for labor” to remain employed, whose survival could, at any time, be compromised by employers (who, for instance held their visas) and who therefore could do nothing to improve their lot. The term found favor in the Occupy movement, and was colloquially expanded to include not just farmworkers, contract workers, “gig” workers, but also unpaid interns, adjunct faculty, etc. Looking back from 2016, one pertinent characteristic seems obvious: no matter how tenuous, the precariat had jobs. The new dying Americans, the ones killing themselves on purpose or with drugs, don’t. Don’t, won’t, and know it.
Here’s the thing: from where I live, the world has drifted away. We aren’t precarious, we’re unnecessary. The money has gone to the top. The wages have gone to the top. The recovery has gone to the top. And what’s worst of all, everybody who matters seems basically pretty okay with that.

No spoilers. Read the article for more, if you dare.

U.S. job cuts hit highest level since 2009 according to new study (theguardian.com). Prepare now to interview for your unpaid internship at McDonalds.

How Good are the Jobs the Economy is Creating? (mishtalk.com) Not very good at all.

Global sleeping patterns revealed by app data (bbc.com). Study shows that women sleep 30 minutes longer than men. Also: in Japan, 7 hours 24 minutes is the average, while in the Netherlands it's 8 hours 12 minutes of sleep a day. (Sweet!)

Lyft Plans to Put Self-Driving Taxis on the Road Within a Year (vanityfair.com). Completely delusional. But we get the point: Why pay human drivers, at all?

U.S. cracks down on e-cigarettes and cigars, bans sales to minors (reuters.com). Here's the quote that riles me (it has to do with e-cigs):
"Millions of kids are being introduced to nicotine every year, a new generation hooked on a highly addictive chemical," U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell told reporters.
Totally fraudulent. Nicotine is not a "highly addictive chemical" (in pure form); lab workers have tried in vain for years to get lab animals addicted to nicotine, and it never happens. Smoke is addictive. Nicotine is not. No one has ever become addicted to a patch, or gum, or vape juice. Thousands of Parkinson's patients wear the patch every day (for therapeutic reasons) and none has ever become addicted. Where are the rehab centers filled with patients desperately trying to "get off the gum" or "get off the patch"? There aren't any.

But then again, this is the same Government that's sitting on tons of data showing filtered cigarettes are less cancer-causing than unfiltered cigarettes (yet will never say that) and also sitting on tons of data showing that menthol reduces (not increases) your chance of lung cancer; but we can't say that out loud, because it doesn't fit the all-tobacco-is-evil agenda. Someone might continue smoking! We can't have that!

Villainizing the drug is a cop-out. We should always ask why it is people turn to substances (tobacco, alcohol, Percocet, Happy Meals, corn syrup) in the first place. (Left as an exercise for the reader.) The real problems are always too hard to address, so we attack the drug, which is easy and politically expedient and keeps budgets flowing to the government agencies that lock people up and "guilt" everyone else into compliance.

Abrupt Sea Level Rise Looms As Increasingly Realistic Threat (resilience.org). Side comment: I don't hear anyone talking about the cheapest, most obvious way to cool the planet back down, which is to put a thin Mylar reflector sheet, the size of Rhode Island, over the North Pole (or the North Atlantic, etc.) at an altitude of 100 miles or so, to divert solar energy away from Earth's most rapidly warming region: the Arctic.

There Aren’t Enough White Dudes in America to Elect Donald Trump President (nymag.com). Quote: "Ronald Reagan won two-thirds of white men in his 1984 landslide victory over Fritz Mondale. Is Trump supposed to beat that? Seriously?" Well, actually (devil's advocate now), yeah, that's exactly what could happen. Look, the Great Orange One wasn't supposed to get this far. Okay? So don't be an ass. Don't tell us he can't win in November. The people who've said "He can't possibly..." have been wrong, consistently, throughout all this.

This one number foretold Donald Trump’s rise (finance.yahoo.com). U.S. median household income, adjusted for inflation, in June 2015, the month Trump declared he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, was $55,191. In January 2000, median household income was $57,371. Employment is up but wages are down. I'm not sure how this foretells the rise of the Orange Menace, but it certainly suggests a middle class in trouble and thus (I guess) a heavy demand for pitchforks, going forward...

Sanders leaves door open to being Clinton's VP (cnn.com). This is truly disturbing. Mind you, I don't think there's a chance in hell Hillary would name him as running mate. Yet, Hillary has literally no way to enlist the support of Sanders voters (a very big block of folks, including almost all Democratic voters under age 30) except to name him her running mate. According to CNN, Sanders is open to discussing it.

Why must the Trump alternative be self-satisfied, complacent Democrats? (theguardian.com). You say that as if democracy isn't working!

Bernie Sanders will be well-equipped to upend Democratic convention (usatoday.com). Devil's advocate take? This article is total bullshit. After Hillary installs her staff at DNC (starting June 8), they'll press for all the necessary rule changes to squelch input from Sanders at the Convention, cutting off dialog before it can begin, relegating his role to that of a kooky old heckler. He'll be punished, not rewarded, for his service (short as it was) to the Party.

Trump needs cash, but GOP donors not opening their wallets (edition.cnn.com). It seems certain Clinton will out-spend Team Trump quite heavily in the general, not just on media (TV ads, internet ads, etc.) but on a superior ground organization in 50 states, something Trump doesn't seem to be anticipating a need for. Trump apparently thinks you don't need to do outreach. He's about to find out otherwise.

Quote of the Week comes from Trump Advisor's Putin Connections Freak Out Security Establishment (alternet.org):
“Given Trump’s erratic behavior, and his willingness to go public with any story regardless of how dubious, and [Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s] own sloppiness with emails and personal server, I’d rather the administration simply not provide the briefings to either candidate,” Schmitt said.
Thanks for visiting. Be sure to check out prior weeks' Water Coolers (see links at right).


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