Thursday, May 5, 2016

Making the Pony Express Obsolete

Look what came on a random piece of mail recently:

It was part of the postage covering the envelope holding a book I ordered from an ABE seller. I love these booksellers (Cox & Cox in Butler, Penn.) now.

Here's a past post about postage stamps.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

This Is What Potatoes Look Like

This isn't exactly a fact I never knew, but the specifics of the fact... wow!

These are Peruvian potatoes, demonstrating the genetic diversity of a species in the area where it originated.

Go back to the source for the most genetic diversity -- that was a fact I never knew until I read Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire. (The wellspring of apples, by the way, is the area where Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China come together.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Yesterday's post about the etymology of "walk" made me wonder about "talk." Seems reasonable to think this rhyming pair might have something in common historically.

Nope. Here's again:

c. 1200, talken, probably a diminutive or frequentative form related to Middle English tale "story," and ultimately from the same source as tale, with rare English formative -k (compare hark from hear, stalk from steal, smirk from smile) and replacing that word as a verb. 
Well, talk being related to tale makes a lot more sense to my modern ear than walk being related to fulling.

But stalk comes from steal! How cool is that? And smirk directly from smile.

Monday, May 2, 2016


One day it occurred to me that the word "walk" was spelled kind of oddly, and I wondered where it came from. Not surprisingly, its roots are a bit less than firmly known, but they start from Old English and go to proto-German and old Norse.

The surprising part was that the words it comes from didn't mean what we would mean by walk. My favorite etymology site,, says it's a combination of the

Old English wealcan "to toss, roll, move round"..., and 2. wealcian "to roll up, curl," from Proto-Germanic *welk- (cognates: Old Norse valka "to drag about," Danish valke "to full" (cloth), Middle Dutch walken "to knead, press, full" (cloth), Old High German walchan "to knead," German walken "to full"), perhaps ultimately from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, roll" (see volvox).

The shift in sense is perhaps from a colloquial use of the Old English word or via the sense of "to full cloth" (by treading on it), though this sense does not appear until after the change in meaning.
Which led me to look up fulling on the Wikipedia. I knew it had something to do with wool cloth, but had I thought it was some kind of cleaning or repair process to existing cloth or clothing.

Turns out it's part of the process of turning sheep's wool into wool cloth, cleaning it and making it thicker or fuller, to be exact. And the process involved walking on the material, usually while it was immersed in some kind of liquid (urine during Roman times, or water mixed with fuller's earth in later years). Okay, sometimes they used their hands or a club to hit the wool, but it's easy to see why feet would have been a good tool, just as with grapes.

Even more eyebrow-raising, the last names Fuller, Tucker, and Walker are all derived from this same job.

So the word "walk" comes from a process that required walking, but before that was the word for walking (in Old English). I wonder what the word for walking was in Old English and the other source languages?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April, Election Year, and Therefore Tweets

April showered a lot in Minnesota, especially near the end of the month. Which makes me think of the never-ending election. It's only May 1. It's only May 1. It's only...

Donald Trump, endorsed by a basketball coach who strangled one of his players. Makes sense.

A man five days from the Republican nomination openly believes racist massacres of unarmed prisoners are awesome, and it's barely news.
Daniel Dale ‏@ddale8

I'm no religious scholar but if Lucifer was as unappealing as Ted Cruz it probably would have gone down a lot differently
Brandy Jensen ‏@BrandyLJensen

Irony of 2016: Years of lack of GOP specifics have helped a candidate like Trump get away with having basically no policy agenda.
Justin Green ‏@JGreenDC

ted cruz got his powers when he was bitten by a radioactive copy of THE HANDMAID'S TALE
Saladin Ahmed

My belief: make it as easy to vote as practicable in all cases. Get rid of caucuses, allow same-day registration, absentee and early voting
Christopher Hayes ‏@chrislhayes

The remaining part of this election -- 29 weeks -- is more than 2.5 times the length of Canada's "record-long" campaign last year.
Josh Barro

*in 1995 terms* Vermont's socialist U.S. Representative is raising money off Dr. Ross from "E.R." helping the First Lady become president: and the star of the "Stuart Smalley" movie is trying to save a passenger train to Eden Prairie from his position as two-term U.S. senator.
Chris Steller

Final thought: New York is a voter suppression state. Independents (the largest voting bloc) are prohibited from voting. This is not fair.
Michael Moore ‏@MMFlint

Cruz in New York is amusing because you rarely see people who play Real America identity politics having to seek the votes of people they sh$& on
Adam Serwer

The lives of America's wealthy aren't really impacted by who wins the presidency. For the poor and working class, the stakes are very high.
Khaled Beydoun

It's no coincidence Trump is winning the demographics that liked the New Deal and hated the civil rights movement.
Josh Barro
Then there is the travesty known as North Carolina's law policing gender in bathrooms:
I have a young daughter. I'm not afraid of trans women sharing her bathroom. I AM afraid of men trying to control her body with creepy laws.
Saladin Ahmed

If you're more worried about what bathroom someone uses than climate change, just stop pretending your kids' future is your big concern.

It's telling that we treat BernieBros as aggressive sexists but don't call Hillary supporters shrugging off Iraq/Iran aggressive racists.
Saladin Ahmed

A reminder: Dennis Hastert is able to use public rest rooms nationwide.
Harold Itzkowitz
And the recurring topic of racism and the experiences of black people in a racist society... including Beyonce:
People understand that institutions can carry obligations. They just don’t believe owning slaves confers an obligation. I have come to the view that there are a lot of people who just don’t view slavery as a moral crime.
Jamelle Bouie ‏@jbouie

The "These Black women aren't anything like these others from the past" always comes from people who don't know the work of Black women. If you try to claim Rihanna's nothing like Josephine Baker? Go look up what Josephine was doing in her 20's. Go on. When you try to claim that Beyonce has nothing in common with Zora? Well feel free to go look up Zora's journey.
Mikki Kendall ‏@Karnythia

It's always about wealth and power. That's the root of it all. Oppression is a process of controlling access to wealth and power.
Bree Newsome

White gang cultures of the Midwest (especially Chicago)? Glorified.
Ours? Vilified. (The "settling" of the region was totally violent.)
Ebony Elizabeth ‏@Ebonyteach
PSA: someone does not "transcend race" because you like them, but not other Black people. They are proof that you're not hopeless. [in reference to Prince]
Snowing in April ‏@DrPhilGoff

Making a white character a person of color undermines white supremacy. Making a person of color character white reinforces white supremacy. This stuff isn't hard.
Saladin Ahmed

"Racism always gets in the way of us meeting the noble goals of public education." Hatred of public education being "open to all" is behind the calls for tax cuts and underfunding. —Reverend Barber
Sarah Lahm

Slavery = terror. Let that be an equation that sticks with you.
in the wake ‏@hystericalblkns

"Even saying 'white people' makes white people uncomfortable." #AERA16 on education and the refusal to understand institutional nature of racism
Tania Uruchima

This country has so much talent to unleash. Just need our U.S. institutions and systems to use race equity lens to unleash talent!
Jennifer Godinez

"We say youth of color are the 'canary in a coal mine' and say 'the canary needs a mentor.' The problem was always the coal mine." #ABFE2016
Taproot DC ‏@taprootfoundDC

Police brutality remains the catalyst for the Black fight because it is the clearest example of contradictions and second class citizenship.

One way to shift the erasure of Black knowledge production is to cite Black people at every opportunity. But the point is: Cite sisters whenever possible. The intellectual white boys (Foucault et al.) ain't said everything or even the main things.
Brittney Cooper ‏@ProfessorCrunk
And finally, the best of the rest and my usual topics of education, feminism, sustainable cities, and more:

By agitator in chief ‏@soit_goes

Dialogue isn't speech. It's exposition designed to mimic speech for the purposes of the story.
John Scalzi

Same dipshit NIMBYs concerned with neighborhood "character" are pushing for more parking. Nothing says "local character" like parking spaces!
David Roberts ‏@drvox

"Using what the appeals court called code words, residents said multifamily housing would change the “flavor” and “character” of the village. Yup. "Character of the neighborhood" = a racist-ass dog whistle and every white faux liberal Boomer in the country who utters it should blush.
David Roberts ‏@drvox

Freedom doesn't mean license or entitlement; it comes with responsibility.
Bruce L. Smith ‏@numbalum89

::cops shoot a child::
Saladin Ahmed

A lot of rich people think they're not rich because they know someone with more money than them.
Josh Barro

If we're going to get rid of test scores as the metric of learning, we need to stop lauding schools when they achieve high test scores.
Nikhil Goyal

Rebuilding belief/trust in activist government ought to be #1 on the progressive to-do list, but as far as I know, *no one* is working on that directly. Whereas virtually every institution on the right, in addition to its enumerated mission, is *also* working to degrade trust in government.
David Roberts ‏@drvox

Why slippers? To make shuffling more comfortable. Why belt? Where else I suppose to put thumbs while shuffling?

Bigfoot TheBigfoot ‏@hellobigfoot

And has anyone contemplated just what a jobpocalypse it's going to be when there are self-driving electric long-haul trucks?
David Roberts ‏@drvox

What I most love about Beyonce is that she responds to her haters by putting in more work. Cuz in the end, the work is what matters. #Lemonade
Brittney Cooper ‏@ProfessorCrunk

If comfort is your goal when engaging with history, you're probably not doing it right..
jay smooth ‏@jsmooth995

Subways are very expensive, but if we didn't have cars in the city, we would not need them.
Free Public Transit

How to find manuscript typos:
1. Click submit
Shit Academics Say ‏@AcademicsSay

Wall Street takes about 25 percent of corporate profits while creating only 4 percent of American jobs.
Demos ‏@Demos_Org

Pretty fucked up that the idea "Let's keep track of who the police shoot" is considered so novel it wins the Pulitzer.
Luke O'Neil

This is not a metaphor. This is an actual bike lane in St. Louis:

Peter Flax ‏@Pflax1

I want public school. I just don't want it to look anything like it does now (in my surrounding districts).

Actual disruption is roughly inverse to advance predictions of same. Look for things most people ignore or laugh at.
Vivian Schiller @vivian

Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.
Kurt Vonnegut

Cars or planet. Make your choice.
Free Public Transit

I hope the new Harriet Tubman bill looks like this:


The city still changes when you block new housing—it becomes more exclusive. A haven for the wealthy and the lucky.
Jamelle Bouie @jbouie

Yep. Nice city. Stable rent. No construction. Pick two.
Clay Shirky

Land doesn't vote - except in the US Senate.
Christopher Hayes ‏@chrislhayes

"Resting our hopes on a transit comeback distracts from our real transportation problem: driving is too cheap." — @washingtonpost editorial
jennifer keesmaat

French GDP per capita is 28% less than U.S. GDP per capita. But the difference in work hours accounts for 91% of that difference.
Matt Bruenig

It's weird to say a carbon tax, which explicitly requires the *least* government intervention, is a sign of seriousness on climate. Like someone smuggled neoliberalism into the heart of the climate movement and convinced everyone it was radicalism.
David Roberts ‏@drvox

Cars pollute by being built and inducing sprawl, no matter what they burn.
Free Public Transit

When paved or anonymous spaces are replaced with community gardens and greenery, crime and unwanted activity drops.
jennifer keesmaat

Infographic: 16 Years of Media-Inflamed Fears:

 Ninja Economics

In a sense, a great deal of research and criticism is "self-serving." Bewildered that women, people of color and LGBTQ scholars are accused of this...and yet countless generations of scholars who spent centuries only studying the world from their point of view are objective and rational. Feeling decentered after being centered has to be jarring. Learning that your world is only one of infinite possibilities must be difficult. In fact, I'm sure being decentered must feel a lot like violence. But many of us can assure you that it is not violence. It's just equality.
Ebony Elizabeth ‏@Ebonyteach

For every $1 the 50 biggest companies pay in taxes, they get $27 back in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts
Steven Greenhouse ‏@greenhousenyt (former New York Times labor reporter)

The U.S. Government spends money they don't have, to bomb people you shouldn't hate, to get oil to waste in traffic. Why not just make buses fare-free?
Free Public Transit

Kindergarten is the new (and bad) second grade, says @MSGunderson (Michelle Gunderson, Chicago teacher).
CriticalClassrooms ‏@lapham_katie

All these "ecologists" advocating things like "complete streets" are just delayers/deniers. It's cars or biosphere, make your choice.
Free Public Transit

The terms of employer-employee relations would change a lot if people weren't reliant on their employers' good graces to get health care.
Joseph Nathan Cohen

It is harmful to hold women responsible for violence done against them + ALSO harmful to suggest men incapable of acting otherwise.
Lady Allshiny

"Only 55% of global production is food. Of that, only 35% is eaten." —Jonathan Foley
Pei-Ru Ko

Anyone notice the irony behind “hyphenated” and “non-hyphenated”?
Bill Murray

A gorgeous African emerald cuckoo. (Photo: Hugh Chittenden)

Strange Animals

"The job of police is not to occupy space to stop crime, but to empower communities to deter it." #Louisville
COPS Office

"LOL, stupid burger flippers, get a real job."
— Person who could be replaced by Excel macros.
SecuriTay ‏@SwiftOnSecurity

The fact that after millennia of bullshit women aren't the ones doing mass shootings is proof that we should be in charge of the world.
Rachel Fisher ‏@TheRachelFisher

SALARY NEGOTIATING TIPS FOR WOMEN: ask employer about their needs, apologize for existing, tell them you'll work a half day on your due date
Aparna Nancherla

When we talk about kids and "grit" does growing up poor and in public housing count? What about surviving sexism, racism? Is that enough grit?
Tanzina Vega

Articles about how $200k isn't rich are silly but do make good point that childcare, healthcare, retirement and education costs a lot. Yet somehow authors use this fact to avoid conclusion that upping taxes to fund those things for everyone would be a good idea.
Matt Bruenig

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment" —Ansel Adams
How To Be Hippy

Overheard: "We're using open source software now. It's like normal but instead of paying money you pay by being insulted when you ask a question."
Paris BA ‏@parisba

Of all things to Today? How wrong can we possibly be?
Laura Sandefer

Women take SO long to get ready, amirite? It's almost like we've imposed an impossible beauty standard we mock them for failing to achieve.
Dana Schwartz

Fact: For the rest of your life, you will never read any good news about the environment. (In response to a New York Times story about the death of coral worldwide.)
Nikki Glaser

Me: "You're just tired."
Husband: "We say 'tired' because we don't want believe you're actually evil."
Amy Shearn

It feels like all annoying people at parties unionized into the All Lives Matter and Not All Men movements.
Aparna Nancherla

Payday loans are a necessary part of the service economy and will be until credit unions or banks step up.
Linda Tirado ‏@KillerMartinis

Ambitious women are framed as taking things from men. The mistake is in assuming those things belonged solely to men to begin with.
Cameron Esposito


ian bremmer

Seems like, since 2014, the Obama administration has been accomplishing a constant stream of small things. Is anyone keeping comprehensive track? Like today, he tightened rules for individual retirement accounts. Seems like no one notices. Everyone's busy ranting about their personal Obama caricature and this stream of *stuff* goes unremarked.
David Roberts ‏@drvox

As corporate wealth reaches historic highs, the median hourly wage decreased by $1.30 from 1980 to 2012.
Demos ‏@Demos_Org

The Benghazi panel has "lasted longer than the investigations into the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the…”
Linda Tirado ‏@KillerMartinis
i love Men's Rights Activists because men need a voice. A single, terrible voice like a thousand rats piled themselves into a trenchcoat and spoke as one.
merritt k ‏@merrittkopas

This baguette slice looks like a bunny.

Faces in Things ‏@FacesPics

Legal and illegal offshore tax havens are wrong. We need roads, bridges, libraries and broadband, not places for big corporations to hide taxes.
Zephyr Teachout

People who believe they operate in a meritocracy, or who believe themselves "objective," are MORE likely to display unconscious bias.
David Roberts ‏@drvox

Before you make a piece of writing good, you have to make a piece of writing.
Christopher Hayes ‏@chrislhayes

I'm with the libertarians in that I agree about disruption. But I don't think people writ large will want aggressive "freedom.” Restricting your life to merely the land you can keep people off of and the things you can keep people from taking...that's a sad world.
Linda Tirado ‏@KillerMartinis

Public education is the infrastructure of democracy. High stakes testing erodes that infrastructure. Learning, not testing, for our future.
Zephyr Teachout

The Panama Papers a good reminder that the rich should be cast into the street and their wealth appropriated.
David Roberts ‏@drvox

An absolutely textbook example of how to abuse a y-axis from the Daily Mail:

Peter Yeung ‏@ptr_yeung

U.S. urban policy: Free housing and infrastructure for cars, unaffordable and inadequate housing for people.

The police took more stuff from people than burglars did in 2014, through asset forfeitures:

The Marshall Project

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Sword and a Mop

From the art building at St. Catherine University in St. Paul:

The accompanying card reads:

Patricia L. Olson
Feminist Revisioning, 2004

This self-portrait shows the artist in a stance that mimics a figure found in a European heroic painting. In art history, only a handful of paintings have shown women brandishing a sword, two of them being Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People and Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Decapitating Holofernes. In these paintings, the posture, along with the sword, imply power and righteous action. Olson feels that both are qualities feminism embodies at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and the sword becomes not a symbol of violence, but a metaphor of feminism.

…the artist [also] uses a domestic instrument, the mop… After a person’s head has been lopped off (metaphorically and righteously), someone needs to stick around to clean up the mess. So even as the world changes for the better, there will be real human suffering to attend to, and therefore the mop in this painting is the equal of the sword. The mop head visually resurrects Medusa, whose serpent-hair symbolizes ancient feminine wisdom. Olson feels that the mop, and women’s knowledge of how to use it, is what makes feminism different from all the other “isms” of history.
None of which explains the cowboy boots, I must point out.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Stunned by Two Maps

This Washington Post article promised six maps that would make me rethink the world, but for me, it was just these two:

This is the world with 4°C of global warming. That's me in Minnesota in the spot where it looks semi-habitable along the edge of the desertified entire middle of the country, just south of the new bread basket known as Canada and Alaska.

The second map is of the Arctic shipping channels, and it's not so much those channels that make this map so overwhelming to me: it's the way it presents a vision of the world that orients around the North Pole and the Arctic, since that's where all of the people will be.

Our entire sense of the globe as oriented north-south, with the Atlantic and Pacific as spatially dominant, will shift so that we are circumpolar, with a much smaller version of the same thing around the South Pole.

You can know this stuff and not know it. What are we doing talking about Donald Trump and anything else, really? This is madness.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Old Carvings

I was trapped at an antique show recently and kept noticing the carved furniture. So, for today, I present a lion, a woman, and a flower.

Sorry, the lion is kind of blurry.

My favorite.

The style of these flowers and their foliage makes me think this piece is from the first 10 or so years of the 20th century. Or, at least, it's trying to look like it is.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Racing in the Streets (Not Just a Song)

I live in a St. Paul neighborhood that is bounded on one side by a four-lane, divided highway. As the weather improves, it's common for us to hear cars racing in the later evening and into the early morning hours. These jerks also race on some of the city streets in the south part of the neighborhood. A few weeks ago, one of them was killed driving on the wrong side of University Avenue, which is now divided by a set of light rail train tracks.

All of that is background to a news story from our western suburbs last weekend: a dozen high-priced performance cars, driven by men aged 25 to 54, were racing at speeds over 100 mph on I-394. In daylight.

They were caught (mostly) by state troopers and ticketed. Their names have been in the paper. As far as I know, they will get only fines, and not even very high ones at that (somewhere in the range of $500).

Today's Star Tribune carried this letter, putting all of that in perspective:

I am hoping that the county attorney and local policing organizations will further investigate the illegal and terrorist activity that took place on Interstate 394 by a gang known for its life-threatening behavior involving the use of exotic and dangerous vehicles. I would also hope that we confiscate the expensive equipment it collaboratively used to avoid law enforcement and terrorize the community. The revenue generated from the auction of only one of its cars would support a community-based youth intervention program for a year.

It’s interesting that when dangerous group behavior is committed by middle-aged, affluent, suburban males, the fear generated is nil — and their behavior is described as an innocent lark. However, when less dangerous behavior is attributed to youth who are poor, nonwhite and from urban neighborhoods, the fear generated is disproportionately high — and often accompanied by demands for draconian law enforcement.

David Wilmes, Roseville
If the police can confiscate property from people suspected of drug crimes, can they confiscate cars like this from people found guilty of using them as dangerous weapons? Why can cars (and motorcycles, especially the ones called "crotch rockets") go this fast in the first place?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tabs on My Mind

The tabs haven't built up as much as usual by this posting, but there are enough, so here goes.

The coddling of the capitalist, white-supremacist, patriarchal American mind, by one of my favorite public intellectuals, Robert Jensen. It includes some of his thoughts about the denigration of microaggressions. (I've had my own thoughts on that topic, here and here.)

A few weeks ago, the Weekly Sift included a post about why the lack of a Supreme Court appointment really matters. It's not about the particular cases coming up or even trying to get back to some kind of balance on the court. It's part of the breakdown of judicial appointments at many levels, as the GOP tries to gum up the works of government generally and the courts in particular.

As the federal court system continues to deteriorate, any right those courts enforce deteriorates as well. Little by little, we wind up living in a country where “Yeah it’s illegal, but what are you going to do about it?” is a viable strategy.

That, in turn, creates a temptation to flip the situation around: to get even with your own illegal act, and let the other side beg for justice from the broken courts. And so the back-and-forth of political hardball begets a similar back-and-forth of hardball in everyday life.
Overloaded judges and civil cases that drag on for half a decade are the clearest result. The big picture is the failure of the rule of law and civil society.

Not long after I posted about Trump's followers and the authoritarian mind, Dave Roberts at Vox posted another Trump think piece that was worth sharing, but I felt like I was talking about Trump too much, so I didn't post it. But here it is: White working-class nostalgia, explained by John Wayne. It's a much more sympathetic look at what motivates Trump-backers. As he writes, "This kind of rose-tinted sentimentalism may strike many people — especially minorities and other subaltern groups who were excluded from that American idyll — as silly, even dangerous. But putting the grim historical realities aside, the nostalgia also reflects primal urges that are worth understanding, and honoring."

From the Washington Post, Five myths about public housing.  To cut to the chase, the five myths are:
  • Public housing residents want to escape it.
  • Public housing is crumbling.
  • Public housing assists the wrong people. 
  • High-rise public housing is unlivable. 
  • Public housing is a top-down imposition by government bureaucrats.
But you'll have to read the article to see why they should be considered myths.

From Ensia, As nations pledge greenhouse gas reductions, so should we. Some of the low-hanging fruit: reducing meat and especially beef consumption, limiting food waste, and flying a lot less. (Remember, "one round trip flight between Europe and the U.S. emits the equivalent of a year’s worth of daily commuting by car").

I'm seeing these two stories as related: What would happen if we just gave everyone money? (about the idea of Universal Basic Income from FiveThirtyEight) and Why lots of love (or motivation) isn't enough by education writer Alfie Kohn. Both get at core questions about human motivation. Why do we do what we do, and is there a better way to organize society (and education, as part of society) to maximize human happiness and fulfillment of potential for the most people?

So, I guess somebody published a paper saying there's a sweet spot in the amount of genetic diversity within a geographic region. Too much diversity and people don't get along and it leads to lower prosperity; too little diversity and it leads to stagnation and lower prosperity. They used East Africa (where humans came from, and therefore is the place with the greatest genetic diversity) as the exemplar of the former and Bolivia as the latter. With Europe and the U.S., of course, as the Goldilocks of economic prosperity. Well, I missed the original coverage of this, but when I heard about it I just thought, Well, that sounds like a bunch of post-hoc logic at work. Now some other researchers have come up with a better critique than that.

Thoughts on the nature of property as necessarily rooted in coercion and violence (one of Matt Bruenig's favorite points, though this piece is not by him). "In the modern world we’ve largely outsourced the execution of that violence, the monopoly on violence, to government."

A little-known moment in the Civil Rights movement is used to highlight the under-researched mental health effects of oppression and violence. Did you know that, in 1963, a dozen 12- to 15-year-old black girls from Georgia were locked inside a concrete shack for weeks without charges, or even telling their parents where they were? It's not the main focus of the story, but it reminded me of how little I've heard about that particular moment in our nation's history. That was probably one of the years when some of my fellow citizens think America was "great," and to which they would like to return.

David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative reporter formerly with the New York Times, explains why You Agree with Bernie Sanders (But You Might Not Know It).

Ari Berman, writing for the Nation, has been essential to coverage of voter suppression this election cycle. Here's just one of his stories: A black man brought 3 forms of ID to the polls in Wisconsin. He still couldn't vote. So, so wrong.

From the Washington Post's WonkBlog: America has locked up so many black people it has warped our sense of reality. "The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades, combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession, have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965."

Monday, April 25, 2016

Context for the Current News on Death Rates

Some recent media coverage has me thinking about the U.S. death rate from various means. Here are the ones that catch the headlines:

Suicide: 13 per 1000,000 (2014 stats, source), which breaks down to 20.7 for men and 5.8 for women

Overdose: 15 per 1000,000 (2014 stats, source); of those, 8 per 100,000 are from opioids

Homicide: 4.5 per 100,000 (2013 statistics, source)

Car crashes: 10.2 per 100,000 (2014 stats, source), from a high of 25.7 in Wyoming to a low of 4.9 in Massachusetts

Which is close to 43 deaths per 100,000, altogether.

For some perspective, the total number of deaths per 100,000 in 2013 was 725, so those 43 deaths are just about 6 percent of the total. Cancer (167 per 100,000) and heart disease (161) account for close to half the total deaths (source).


An earlier post on suicide and dying before "your time."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Animation Speaks the Truth

Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to have this animated GIF just show up below, so you have to click the link to see it. But it's short, and it's worth it.

That's it for today. Nursing a migraine, so it's time for a nap.