Thursday, January 19, 2017

Newspeak, New Logo

Have you heard that Corrections Corporation of America has rebranded as CoreCivic?

That's right: they've taken a clear, honest name (though Corrections itself was originally a euphemism) and turned it into one with no apparent connection to what they do. Maybe they would argue that good prisons make good civil societies, and therefore prisons are at the core of civics?

I don't want to know.

I heard about the new name a few days ago and groaned, but it was this story from Mother Jones that made me bring this up today. Check out the new CoreCivic logo:


Yes, their logo takes the American flag — a symbol of liberty, we would all agree, at least in theory — and turns it into a prison building.

If that isn't a foreshadowing of life under the Dear Leader, I don't know what is.

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Here’s an earlier MoJo story about the rebranding, which I had missed. In it, CoreCivic says they aren't changing their name to get away from bad publicity, but rather to reflect their “wider range of government solutions.”

“Government solutions.” I thought governments were responsible for those.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chipping Away

A Facebook friend shared some advice yesterday for those of us going to Inauguration-related marches. If you've got your smart phone set up to unlock with your fingerprint, she said, turn that off for the day because the police can't compel you to provide an unlock number, but they can compel your fingerprint.

I didn't believe it when I saw it, but lo and behold, this was in today's newspaper:


How is that even possible?

Compelling fingerprints for forensic purposes, okay, I get the parallel to compelling a blood or hair sample. But fingerprints used to unlock a phone are not the same. They are more like a key, and police can't compel keys to your house, can they?
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Here's an earlier post that contained some thoughts and links on the nature of cell phones, legally, relative to the Fourth Amendment.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Now that Was a Week

As I sat here waiting for the beginning of Betsy DeVos's hearing for Secretary of Education, news of Obama's action commuting the sentences of Chelsea Manning and Oscar Rivera Lopez broke.

Each day more members of Congress announce they will not be attending the Dear Leader's inauguration on Friday (no Senators yet).

Last night, Rachel Maddow pointed out that around 80 members of Congress boycotted Richard Nixon's second inauguration, so there's precedent for these actions in the modern area. (This was before Watergate was a widely known thing... so I assume they were boycotting over the Vietnam War, but I don't really know.)

That was a momentous week, as pointed out today by historian Michael Beschloss on Twitter. He wrote:

Within a period of 72 hours, Nixon was reinaugurated, LBJ died, Roe v Wade decided, Vietnam settlement announced -- all 44 years ago this week.
I was 13 years old then, in 8th grade, and I don't remember any of that.

A lot can and probably will happen this week in American history. I hope we all survive it.

(Meanwhile, I'm watching Joe Lieberman and his inane grin in the DeVos hearing room.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

And I Don't Even Like Meryl Streep that Much

I think I will never get used to our new America. Here's an example.

A week ago Sunday, Meryl Streep gave this speech at the Golden Globe Awards. She first talked about how the three words of the award-giving organization's name, the Hollywood Foreign Press, all seem to be unpopular with some Americans these days, and wondered why that should be.

But then she reproofed Donald Trump, without using his name specifically, for belittling New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski by imitating his disability. (Somehow, Trump supporters try to make an argument that Trump was not imitating Kovaleski when he obviously was, as shown clearly on video.)

And now they (as well as Trump on Twitter) have trained their attacks on Streep. She's a grown up and she can take it, but I just don't understand this vindictiveness toward people who dare to disagree with Trump.

Here are two examples of the attack, both mild, I'm sure, compared to what has probably landed in Streep's personal inbox:


When did Streep say her opinions are more important than others'? No, she was just giving a short speech, taking an opportunity to say something that was important to her. And what's with the bad caricature that looks more like the Witch of the West, done up as Queen Victoria, than Meryl Streep?

Then there was the letter from today's Star Tribune, by Tom Wierzbicki of Crosby, Minn.:

Meryl Streep

She blathers (probably scripted), and media drools in adulation

I find it very disconcerting that the entire news media keeps running and commenting on the words Meryl Streep spoke during the Golden Globes.

Who wrote those words for her? After all, her whole life has been one of just reading and acting out the words creative thinkers have written for her. She has been good at it, but how can someone who has never had a thought of her own criticize others who have?

I recently sat through 20 minutes of movie previews her industry has created. It appalls me that she is involved in a business that is creating ugly, very violent films filled with sexual innuendo that my grandchildren will be watching.

How can she possibly be given such a stage at an award show to say anything negative about anyone else? And, worse, our news media repeats it, repeats it and repeats it.

It is so sad that people like her constantly beat the drum about CEO pay. The same CEOs we want to create jobs, be successful and give us bonus checks while “stars” make hundreds of millions creating entertainment.

Why do liberals constantly berate CEOs but not movie stars or athletes?

What a sad country we have become and our news media makes it worse. Repeating what others say and not giving us the facts.

It appears a couple hundred million Americans agree with me. Although I did not vote for Donald Trump, I pray he does great for our country and do not wish to berate him like so many “deplorables” do before he is even given the chance.
All Streep did was say it was wrong to make fun of a person with a disability, and this is the response? He impugns her intelligence by saying she can only read what others write for her and then blames her for every film ever made in Hollywood. He assumes facts not in evidence (that she is the same as "people like her" who speak against paying a lot to job-creating CEOs).

All in all, it's a very strange letter that bounces from one topic to another. Wierzbicki doesn't seem to mind that his grandchildren will soon have a president who makes fun of disabled people and bragged about sexual assault, but whatever.

It's the new America.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Possibly the Worst Packaging Ever

Yes, it's a small company, but is this how you would want your carefully crafted product to be presented to the buying public?


I can see that the labeling is only a sticker, adhered to a plain tin, and that means there are some limits on the design. But really. Readable letter forms don't cost extra. And there are five different typefaces on there, too (plus the varying script lettering styles in the two logos).

Not to mention there's no need to strew the elements randomly around the space, use clunky outlines on the type (because the designer knows the color isn't dark enough to be readable on a white background), or toss in clip art that's more distracting than helpful.

Here is my 20-minute revision of the lemon label:


No more unnaturally squashed type and unnecessary all caps. Only three typefaces (two of which are sans serifs that might as well be in the same family). Elements grouped and aligned. And the outline treatment of the Sweet Nothings brand name reflects the no-calorie product claim.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Who Let the Dogs in, But Not the People?

I saw these stories just a few hours apart on social media.

First, one about how a shopping mall was letting in stray dogs because it was too darn cold outside:


Awwww.

Then this, about a woman who froze to death in a parking garage:


Then this, which reads, "You're less likely to support a tax on millionaires if a destitute person is standing nearby."



That last tweet was linked to this story from Pacific Standard, which reports on research to that effect.

I wonder whether people are more likely to support a tax on millionaires if a dog is standing nearby? Maybe.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Hunk of Money, Just Out of Reach

I usually think that space exploration — though cool and something I value for its own sake — seems like a money hole. But today, while listening to a Science Friday segment on two upcoming probes to the asteroids near Jupiter, I learned a startling fact.

Background: There's an asteroid that travels in tandem with Jupiter, called Psyche, which is unique because it has lost the rock layers that usually surround the metallic core, leaving it as a big hunk of metal hurtling through space.

Which was interesting enough, but when a caller asked whether there were plans to mine the asteroids, I began to see why businesses (like Elon Musk's Space X) are interested in space.

While there is no way to bring back mined materials at this point (which is a big caveat), the NASA scientist on the show said she had crunched the numbers and the value of the metals on Psyche alone are worth 100,000 times the GDP of the entire Earth economy.

That's a lot of impetus.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

My One Bit of Amusement

I noticed yesterday, when seeing coverage of the Saffron One's so-called press conference, that he's using a special logo during these pre-inauguration days:


If you zoom in, you can see that there's more going on in the design than just a red circle with a white bar across it :


That's supposed to be the White House (though it really doesn't seem to have any interior details in the drawing), and there's a blue ring with some tiny white letters surrounding, but it's undecipherable.

Here it is again from a newspaper photo, rather than from a television screen snapshot:


Still no details visible on that white, horizontal bar, other than the slight bump-up at the center.

In case you were wondering, this graphic appears to be a whole-cloth creation of Donald's team; nothing turns up from Google images, and it's not related at all to the graphic used on or behind the presidential podium in the White House briefing room (shown here). For one thing, they don't use red. I wonder why? Hmm.

Am I the only one who sees Donald's logo, especially when shown at the kind of distance used to show the whole podium, as this:


...instead of what it's intended to be?

The Do Not Enter Presidency... they've got that right!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Reversion to the Meanest

I saw this tweet by Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher yesterday:


Then this morning I saw this from Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) on Twitter, who was responding to President Obama’s farewell speech:

The hilariously sad thing is so many people expected Obama to be a Magical Negro. When he was merely human, the anger started and never stopped. Now people are blaming Obama for Trump winning instead of their own racism. It's fascinating. And horrifying. We'll all pay for it sadly.
Both of these remind me of research that shows white people are more supportive of voter ID laws when shown photos of black people voting. I remember the first time I heard about that research back in 2014… I did a double take. I couldn't believe it. But it has been upheld in other research.

Having Barack Obama as president reminded white people every day that black people exist. So, in reaction, a significant number of us voted in an orange baboon to take his place.

Nose. Face. Meet knife.

The only thing that’s unclear to me is whether this is an attribute of white people in particular (as a group) or if some other hypothetical group in the dominant position in a society, with similar dynamics of oppression, would have made the same decision.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Three from the Day Against Denial

I did get downtown to the snowy Day Against Denial rally yesterday. Because both of Minnesota's senators are Democrats who know climate change is real, it was more of a thank you and a "please please please do what you can" kind of action.

I have to say, 350.org knows how to organize a demo. They brought along five signs in this style:


The other four signs depicted Trump, Rick Perry (Energy), Ryan Zinke (Interior), and Rex Tillerson (State). They also had several, long bright gold banners to tie everything together.


I love the simplicity of this one (despite the Michigan colors).


This one got right to the point.

Today the cabinet-level hearings started, with Jeff Sessions. Lots of news there and tomorrow. Here we go.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Recyclable Sock Hanger?

I feel as though I am channeling my inner Andy Roony: ’Dj’ever notice that you can't buy socks without buying plastic?

They might come in a bundle inside a plastic bag, which you may be able to recycle if you know where, but if they're the kinds that hang on hooks in pairs or packages, there's almost always a hard plastic hook in there.

This weekend, I finally broke down and bought a pair of Smart Wool socks for all of my upcoming outdoor protest activities, and realized as I took them out of the package that it was entirely made of paperboard:


At first I thought the hook part was plastic...


...but as I unfolded the cleverly designed insert tab on the back (left)...


...and saw the hanger in full, I realized it was also paperboard.


So overall, they've got two pieces of paper board with ink and some kind of coating. The yellow part (with the unprinted side shown in the last photo) is marked as recyclable. I'm not as sure about the black part, though; it's not marked, plus the finish feels like it might be a plastic laminate.

Nice paper engineering though, and I'll be looking into whether that part recycles or not. Seems silly to go to all that work and end up with an unrecyclable piece.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Despair

A few days ago, meteorologist and Slate writer Eric Holthaus posted this string of thoughts to Twitter:

I'm starting my 11th year working on climate change, including the last four in daily journalism. Today I went to see a counselor about it.

I'm saying this because I know many people feel deep despair about climate, especially post-election. I struggle every day. You are not alone.

There are days where I literally can't work. I'll read a story and shut down for the rest of the day. Not much helps besides exercise and time.

The counselor said: "Do what you can,” which I think is simple and powerful advice. I'm going to start working a lot more on mindfulness.

Despair is natural when there's objective evidence of a shared existential problem we're not addressing adequately. You feel alone. You feel powerless. You feel like nothing matters. Your relationships suffer. You feel guilty for "not doing more.”

But what the hell am I supposed to do? Write another blog post? Our secretary of state is the fucking Exxon CEO. Last year we lost a huge chunk of the Great Barrier Reef. We are literally ending existence of animals that were here for millions of years.

We don't deserve this planet. There are (many) days when I think it would be better off without us.

How am I supposed to do my job — literally to chronicle planetary suicide — without experiencing deep existential despair myself? Impossible.

To me, our emotional/psychological response is *the* story on climate change. It defines how (and if) we will solve the problem.

The number one comment I get is "we're fucked.” That's not totally true. In order to "save the planet" we have to confront this despair.

Climate despair, on its own, isn't bad. It's a sign you care. It's just hard to function when you feel the weight of the world crashing down.

The more I talk about my despair, the more I realize other people feel same thing. That makes me hopeful — we are more powerful than we think. I don't have an answer for where to go from here. That's why I'm in counseling. But part of the answer is: don't be afraid to talk. 
Think of all the jobs we could create for counselors in this new day. See, there's an up-side to everything.