Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Earth’s population is skyrocketing. How do you feed 10 billion people sustainably?

from The Washington Post:

The human population has reached 7.6 billion and could number 9 billion or 10 billion by midcentury. All those people will need to eat. A sobering report published Wednesday in the journal Nature argues that a sustainable food system that doesn’t ravage the environment is going to require dramatic reforms, including a radical change in dietary habits.

To be specific: Cheeseburgers are out, and fruits and veggies are in.

The 23 authors of the report, hailing from Europe, the United States, Australia and Lebanon, reviewed the many moving parts of the global food system and how they interact with the environment. The authors concluded that the current methods of producing, distributing and consuming food aren’t environmentally sustainable and that damage to the planet could make it less hospitable for human existence.

A core message from the researchers is that efforts to keep climate change at an acceptable level won’t be successful without a huge reduction in meat consumption.

“Feeding humanity is possible. It’s just a question of whether we can do it in an environmentally responsible way,” said Johan Rockström, an earth scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and a co-author of the study.

The report comes on the heels of a warning from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global leaders need to take unprecedented action in the next decade to keep the planet’s average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Global warming has typically been linked to the burning of fossil fuels, but food production is a huge and underappreciated factor, and the new report seeks to place food in the center of the conversation about how humanity can create a sustainable future.

“Everybody knows that energy has something to do with climate — we need to transform our energy system. There’s very few people who realize that it’s just as, and maybe more, important to transform our food system,” said Katherine Richardson, director of the Sustainable Science Center at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Richardson, who was not part of the team producing the new study, added, “the food system is broken and needs to be fixed if we have any hope of feeding 9 to 10 billion.”

Already, half the planet’s ice-free land surface is devoted to livestock or the growing of feed for those animals, Richardson said. That’s an area equal to North and South America combined, she said. Rain forests are steadily being cleared for cropland. And the demand for food is increasing faster than the population: Rising income in China and many other formerly impoverished countries brings with it a higher demand for meat and other forms of animal protein. Some 70 percent of the world’s fresh water is already used in agriculture, and the demand for that water will intensify.

The Nature report, titled “Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits,” contends that, without targeted changes, pressures on various environmental systems will increase 50 to 90 percent by 2050 compared with 2010. There’s no simple solution, the authors write, but rather “a synergistic combination of measures” will be needed to limit the environmental damage.

One obvious measure is a change in diets. Researchers say meat production, which includes growing food specifically to feed to livestock, is an environmentally inefficient way to generate calories for human consumption. Moreover, ruminants such as cows are prodigious producers of methane as they digest food, and methane is a potent greenhouse gas. The report says greenhouse-gas emissions from the global food system could be reduced significantly if people reduce red-meat consumption and follow a diet built around fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.

To limit greenhouse-gas emissions, “we won’t get very far if we don’t seriously think about dietary changes to a more plant-based diet,” said Marco Springmann, lead author of the report and a senior researcher at the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food.

He said that what is good for the planet is good for the eater. For most people eating a typical Western diet, eating less meat will generally mean better health.

The report is agnostic on whether the world should adopt genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food supply. The report also does not take a position on population growth. Although birthrates have declined dramatically in many countries — to levels far below the replacement rate — the global population continues to rise. A 2015 U.N. report estimated that the population would reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Decades ago, the prospect of so many human beings crowding the planet inspired predictions of widespread famine. The “green revolution” in agriculture changed the equations. Still, the food is not evenly distributed. About 3 billion people are malnourished today and 1 billion of them suffer from food scarcity, according to Rockström.

At the core of this research is the argument that Earth has several limits, the “planetary boundaries,” that can’t be exceeded without potentially dire consequences. These boundaries — which involve factors such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, atmospheric aerosols (smog), stratospheric ozone depletion and the supply of fresh water — define the “safe operating space” for humanity. Proponents of the hypothesis say that human civilization has thrived in the geological epoch known as the Holocene, covering a period of roughly 11,700 years since the end of the last ice age, but that damage to the environment could put humanity into an existential crisis.

“You can imagine a scenario in which contemporary society starts to unravel” because of degradation in the environment, said Will Steffen, an emeritus professor of Earth-system science at the Australian National University and a proponent of the planetary-boundaries hypothesis. “So it’s a long fuse, big bang.”

He noted that there is a movement in Australia to promote the consumption of kangaroo meat, since kangaroos are not ruminants and don’t have the same ecological footprint.

“It’s a gamier taste, but it’s also a much leaner meat. It takes more talent to cook it to make it easy to chew and digest,” he said, before quickly adding, “I don’t like the thought of the poor little guys getting shot.”
Read more:

Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond 4 of 9 ‘planetary boundaries’

Spaceship Earth: A new view of environmentalism

A former omnivore comes out as vegetarian





Monday, October 15, 2018

School of Life Monday:
Why Socrates Hated Democracy

We’re used to thinking hugely well of democracy. But interestingly, one of the wisest people who ever lived, Socrates, had deep suspicions of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

OUT OF STEP (WITH THE WORLD):
ANDERSON COOPER’S 1995 NEWS SEGMENT ON STRAIGHT EDGE

from Dangerous Minds:
I’m a person just like you, but I’ve got better things to do…

Ian Mackaye never intended to lead the straight edge revolution. Songs like “I’m Straight” and “Keep it Clean” prove that the punks had restraint before the Dischord-boom. That being said, Ian’s high school band Teen Idles did put out the Minor Disturbance EP, their only release, with younger brother, Alec MacKaye’s valiant, X’d up fists on its cover. The X’s, now a symbol of the anti-inebriation subculture, was meant to signify that he was underage and therefore “incapable” of drinking. In 1981, Ian’s DC-hardcore band Minor Threat released its fundamental, self-titled debut EP - on it included the moniker song “Straight Edge.” During a time when being a punk meant sniffing glue (“Just Say No”), Ian wrote a forty-six second statement about how you could be “straight” and still be like everybody else. So yeah, Ian Mackaye pretty much is the Godfather of straight edge.



Bands like Youth of Today, SS Decontrol, Gorilla Biscuits, and 7Seconds helped promote the core values of straight edge. Those being that one could rebel through self-control and individuality. And for punk rock, which already was reactionary toward the excesses and hedonism of the boomer generation, being straight edge was yet another way to resist the mainstream. At least I can fucking think…..

In the mid-to-late nineties, straight edge caught wide appeal. By this point, newer variations of hardcore began to embrace a lifetime commitment to a substance-free existence. Vegetarianism and social justice issues were integrated into its list of convictions and newer, more radical takes on the subculture began to appear. Hardline was a faction of vegan straight edge that promoted its oftentimes conservative judgements through imposition and direct action, even if by any means necessary. “Hate edge” militant gangs and crews formed, most notably in places like Salt Lake City and Reno, where McDonald’s locations were being firebombed and fellow punks were getting jumped for smoking and drinking. So naturally, the parents of America got concerned.

Similar to its interpretation of punk a decade prior, the media had a hard time comprehending the straight edge phenomena. Described as a “strange development,” several local news outlets across the country ran investigative reports into the drug-free hXc lifestyle and what it meant for our communities. Should I be concerned if my son is a straight edger? Mostly no, according to multiple reports, although a few of them profiled the animal liberation guerrilla efforts of hardline activists and the growing wave of violence committed by them. Straight edge was soon the subject of an episode of America’s Most Wanted and even on the daytime talk show Rolonda, in 1997.

Back in 1995, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was a correspondent for ABC News. That same year, he traveled to Syracuse, NY to report on a growing youth movement known as “straight edge.” The segment is introduced with shocking new evidence that teenage use of marijuana and illegal drugs is on the rise. Notwithstanding, rookie newscaster Anderson Cooper had supposedly “discovered a small, but growing group of young people who are refusing to engage in such self-destructing behavior.” Among them were brothers Trevor and Justin, the center of our cultural probe, who came upon a drug-free lifestyle to protest the self-indulgence of their generation, and of those past. Cooper narrates the report, but can be seen around the two-minute mark, sitting within a pow-wow discussion group of X’d up hardcore teens.

How many of them do you think still hold edge today? Watch Anderson Cooper’s investigative report on straight edge, along with other news reports on the sXe sensation below.




go to the original article to see more SXE news clips

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How ‘The Walking Dead’ helps Revere High School make the grade

from The Boston Globe:
Revere adopted a method more common to affluent private schools, and boosted academic performance. Now it is evangelizing the technique.
Teacher Nancy Barile with some of her students from Revere High School.
Most days in Nancy Barile’s English course at Revere High School, a visitor might begin to wonder when the real class is going to start. Discussions focus on plot points, character development, and persuasive writing, yes, but the text at their center isn’t Hamlet or Catcher in the Rye. It’s the television series The Walking Dead.

Three years ago a student who wasn’t completing his work dared Barile to watch the zombie show, saying he’d study if she did. Another teacher might have balked, but Barile had helped organize a punk rock scene growing up in Philadelphia and brings that “why not try it?” ethos to her teaching. She watched the series and then built an entire curriculum around it (content rated TV-MA means the course is only open to juniors and seniors). “The show has everything — sociology, psychology, interpersonal relations, ethics,” says Barile, who is in her 24th year of teaching. “We watch the show and dissect it.”

In class, students study all the familiar concepts of high school English, but they’re applying these concepts to a work they care about passionately. Through the lessons, they also have greater control over the pace and content of their curriculum. Barile says students who take the class are more engaged and show more improvement in their writing. The juniors are more likely to sign up for AP English as seniors than students who take other classes.

Barile’s class is a prime example of how Revere High School uses “student-centered learning” to reach a highly diverse student body. Under this approach, lessons are structured around the interests and needs of students, not box-checking convenience for teachers and administrators. Students learn at different paces and via different teaching styles, the thinking goes. Give them more control over the manner in which they’re taught and how their work is assessed and you’ll produce more involved, successful students. In history, students might pick historical characters and analyze major events of their era from the character’s perspective. Math students might flip the class, watching videos explaining the concept beforehand, then use the teacher as a coach during class time — if they need help.

Revere’s school district is one of the leaders in Massachusetts in advancing student-centered learning, which is surprising on multiple levels. It’s an approach associated with affluent private schools — free from state curricula and testing mandates. But Revere is a working-class city just north of Boston Logan International Airport, best known for having the oldest public beach in the country. About 80 percent of the high school’s 1,900 students come from low-income households, district officials say. Many are recent immigrants — 32 different languages were represented in the student body last year — whose English skills may be limited at best (about 19 percent are categorized as English language learners).

Also, Massachusetts public schools have been relatively slow to adopt student-centered learning, perhaps in part because traditional teaching approaches seem to work so well here — last year the state’s averages topped the National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores in reading and math. Other states, such as Virginia, which has tried to limit standardized testing and replace it with locally designed ways of measuring student achievement, are much further along in adopting student-centered learning principles in the public schools, says Rebecca E. Wolfe, associate vice president of Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based nonprofit that helps educators and school districts adopt student-centered learning.

Revere High’s move to student-centered learning started when Lourenco Garcia became its principal in 2010. Garcia, who held the role until this summer, was concerned that so many students seemed unable to connect with their teachers or the material. This was reflected in the school’s standardized test scores, particularly those of minority students. Only 50 percent of its black students and 63 percent of its Hispanic students had achieved proficient or advanced scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System statewide English test in 2009. Garcia, who had taught for 16 years in Brockton before becoming a high school principal in Rhode Island, researched student-centered learning and felt the techniques could provide an antidote to a form of torture found too frequently in schools: boredom.

He thinks the approach is especially potent for immigrant students, who often feel disempowered as they adapt to a new country. Garcia himself came to the United States 22 years ago from the island nation of Cape Verde.

Finally, the approach breaks from traditional classrooms where students are expected to sit and listen. “That’s the old factory model, where you were a passive learner,” he says. “This approach is dynamic. It motivates kids and brings a lot of enthusiasm into the classroom.”

At Revere High School, students use the show “The Walking Dead” to study English concepts, instead of classic texts. From left: Students Jenna Geraci, Michael Guzman, and Joselyn Bonilla Rosales.

After Garcia implemented student-centered learning at Revere High, proficient or advanced scores on the MCAS for English jumped; in 2017, 82 percent of black students and 77 percent of Hispanic students achieved them. Gains were just as dramatic in math and science. The school’s four-year adjusted graduation rate rose from 71.5 percent in 2009 to 87.9 percent in 2017.

For a district with Revere’s demographics, this sort of performance drew national attention. In 2014, the high school was chosen as the top urban high school in America by the National Center for Urban School Transformation. Educators from as far away as Ohio, Texas, and California — and as nearby as Harvard University — flocked to the oceanside town to see the method in action. Candice Hazelwood, an educational consultant who was part of a group of Ohio educators that visited Revere in 2017, says “they have taken giving the students a voice to another level.”

* * *

IT’S HARD TO HEAR above the two dozen students in Charles Willis’s class The History of Revere, which looks at how the community, first settled in the 1630s, has changed over time. The students have separated into groups to discuss oral history interviews they had conducted at a local senior center, an assignment they largely designed themselves as a way to get real-life examples of the city’s evolution.

Students have a say in how the classroom experience is structured, as well. They sit alongside teachers on some of Revere High’s 12 school improvement teams that focus on different aspects of student-centered learning, such as how students demonstrate proficiency, or how to extend learning beyond classroom walls. The teams sign off on all major changes at the school, meaning little goes forward without teacher buy-in.

The flip side of Garcia’s allowing teachers and students more creativity was requiring more accountability. In a school setting, that translated to more scrutiny. Garcia set a rule that he and his senior staff observe at least two teachers every single day. They fan out across the school, slipping into classrooms and watching what the teachers do, and how students respond, then write up an observation report within three days.

Garcia, 55, has an inclusive leadership style, and is known for working hard to connect with students. He plays a little game he calls “Where in the world is this student from?” On a spring day last school year, he spots a young man in the school cafeteria wearing a green sweatshirt and preparing to inhale a sandwich. Garcia walks over and asks, in perfect Portuguese, “Voce e do Brasil?” (“Are you from Brazil?”)

A smile creases the teen’s smooth face as he nods. Garcia smiles back. When he immigrated at the urging of family members who were already here, Garcia knew only a few words of English. But he’s good with languages — he speaks seven (Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, and Cape Verdean Creole). He also knows how hard it is to make it as an immigrant. He did odd jobs — bagging groceries, working in a laundromat — to support his family while he attended college, on his way to a job as a social studies teacher in Brockton.

Garcia believes principals and teachers don’t have to have his experience as an immigrant and a minority to make student-centered learning work in schools with significant percentages of both. He was the only minority in a leadership role at Revere High, for instance.

Revere, along with a handful of other Massachusetts school districts, is trying to spread this style of learning. Three years ago, Revere was among six school districts — the others were Attleboro, Boston, Lowell, Somerville, and Winchester — to start the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment to advance personalized learning and student assessment. So far, the consortium has trained teachers in 40 schools to swap multiple-choice tests for more creative ways of evaluating students, such as podcast production, narrative writing assignments, and architectural design projects. (The Revere school district received a grant for its work from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, also one of The Hechinger Report’s donors.)

Somerville aims to make student-centered learning apply not just to the academic but also to the physical, social, and emotional well-being of students, says Mary Skipper, superintendent of Somerville’s schools. The district is now renovating Somerville High School to introduce flexible classrooms conducive to collaborative work, one way to reduce the time students spend listening to a teacher lecture. “The ultimate goal is to have projects that incorporate things that motivate students, that they like, and from that be able to teach a variety of standards,” Skipper says.

While student-centered learning has shown promise for schools with high numbers of low-income students, including four Northern California high schools studied by Stanford, the approach has yet to be tried on a large scale. But Revere has found that progress isn’t always steady, and it doesn’t work with every student.

Recently, an influx of immigrant students with little formal education affected Revere High’s performance on some state measures, hitting pause on the school’s climb on state rankings during Garcia’s tenure. The high school dropped from a Level 1 school in 2015 to a Level 3 school in 2017 on the state report card, which looks at standardized test scores. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced last December that it would no longer use the 1-5 levels to rate schools, moving away from relying so heavily on standardized tests to label schools. That decision, too, is part of the accelerating shift away from top-down, one-size-fits-all approaches to education.

“Assessment drives what gets taught and how it’s taught,” says Dan French, executive director of the Center for Collaborative Education, a Boston group that’s working with the student-centered learning consortium. “If students are focused on rote memorization to pass a state test, they will not be prepared for the higher-level thinking required in college and increasingly in careers.”

French says employers increasingly complain that graduates come to them unable to perform tasks needed to help their businesses thrive, such as analyzing and synthesizing data and collaborating with teammates. In effect, the focus on standardized tests winds up harming business productivity and the national and local economies. French says the desired skills are much more likely to be developed in a student-centered learning environment.

Samantha Karl, who graduated from Revere High School in 2017, says she and her classmates appreciated the school’s approach because it allowed them to move at their own pace. “For someone like me who likes to move a little faster, if I understood something I wouldn’t have to spend class listening to the teacher going over something I already understand,” says Karl. She says even the class clowns “started showing up to class prepared.”

Karl, now a sophomore at Boston College, thinks learning to work on her own prepared her for college in a way that she might not have experienced in a more traditional system.

Revere is moving to spread student-centered learning across its 11 schools. This past summer, Garcia was promoted to executive director of data and accountability for the entire Revere district. Part of his job will be evangelizing for student-centered learning.

Revere’s superintendent, Dianne Kelly, says she created the position for Garcia because of his ability to identify struggling students and develop creative strategies to help them. John Perella, a Revere native and an assistant principal at the high school (before Garcia’s arrival) who spent the past seven years as principal of Medford High School, was named to replace Garcia. Perella says student-centered learning will continue to be a big part of the high school experience. “The future of education is based on these types of ideas where we engage students differently, we look at them less as a recipient of knowledge than as an integral part of the learning process,” he says.

That’s welcome news at Revere High, where teachers warmly embraced Garcia’s laser focus on student and teacher needs. According to June Krinsky-Rudder, who has taught art at Revere for 17 years, Garcia would approve art projects that she admits sounded a little “crazy.” After a tornado hit the area in the summer of 2014, she assigned her students to create installations based on their impressions of the tornado. Some of the nine works were big and bold, such as a sculpture of a person breaking through glass and one of junk hanging from a tree.

Not only did Garcia let her put on an art show, he personally called parents to ask them to attend — using whatever language he needed to communicate with them.

Garcia is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring this kind of attention to detail to administrators across the district — with the hope that it will trickle down to students, ultimately keeping them at the center of everything he does.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

MY RULES comment

View this post on Instagram

In November of 1982 i published MY RULES, this "photozine" myself, they call it D.I.Y. now, but truth is thats the only choice we had then, and in the end we are all much better for it. We had to teach ourselves how to do things and make things happen on our own. None of the lazy ass slacker, type it in google to figure it out bull shit (not that that can't be put to good use, because of course it can, but its so damn easy, and any neuroscientist will tell you, easy shit doesn't stimulate the brain the way difficult things do... Jus sayin'). By actually talking to people not texting or speaking on message boards, by socializing FACE TO FACE motherfuckers, making phone calls and having conversations in REAL TIME WHEN SPOKEN TO not at your leisure when you feel like it or have the time to think of something witty to say, i think of it as LIVING IN REAL TIME, getting shit done, takin' care of business, workin' your hustle... No one had printers in there homes, NO ONE, you'd have to create pages on graph paper (thats an actual sheet of paper with lines preprinted on it), make "half-tones" of photographs and art, paste them on a page, titles would been hand glued or waxed onto a page one letter at a time, text would be taken from a typewriter or sent out to a typesetter who would let you pick one of a few fonts for a price, and if you wanted "different" fonts you'd pay a lot more and have to find a type house that did it even... Luckily for printing i was able to call on my bro's at Thrasher who i figured owed me a favor pr two, bringing them some credibility coming from "SkateBoarder" after "Action Now" folded... Anyway, i got ad's from a few friends who had record companies to help pay for the printing, Thrasher got thier ad in trade for letting me use their facilities up in the San Fransisco ship yard where they operated from all the years i worked with them. SST didnt pay for theirs in cash, Black Flag's Van is what travelled with me and roadie Davo over 500 miles to bring the 10,000 zines back to my room at my moms house just south of Olympic blvd., stacked more than six feet high they filled up most of my room in boxes of 200 copies. Continued on next post...

A post shared by glen E. friedman Ⓥ (@glenefriedman) on



This is part 2/3:
Before i went to print i told everyone that this would be "The One and Only Issue". Flipside said they were printing around 4000 at the time, and Maximum Rock'N'Roll said they were printing between 2,500 and 3,500 at the time (they were by far the biggest Punk Fanzines at the time), Thrasher, which at that moment was the ONLY national skateboard magazine (but only B&W photos) told me the were doing 20,000... So i figured, being a one time thing, it'd be cool if i did 10,000, i had confidence the national & worldwide punk scene (there were pockets of punks all over the globe in major cities) would be into it. It wasn't until we were at the bindery, getting the zines all cut, trimmed, collated, & stapled together, that i found out the truth regarding Thrashers numbers by accident... The binder, whom Thrasher put me on to, asked me, "how many copies total you got here?" I said "half of what Thrasher does" he said "this looks like a lot more than that!" And then he told me they usually printed only around 6,000 copies a month, HAAAAA! I couldn't believe it, and here i am with 10,000, more than they ever did! Oh well... It cost me about .30¢ each to print, i wholesaled them for $1.00 to record distributors and magazine stands and record stores, the cover price was $2.00 the ads paid for about half the printing and the other $1500. was outa my own savings account, (no fucking kickstarter bullshit, its DIY!) i shipped them via UPS & USPO as well as drove many to distributors & records stores myself, and made all the calls to sell & collect myself. Every dot on every page i put there on purpose or by accident, myself or by Kevin Thatcher (Thrasher original Editor who gave me invaluable assistance in creating & cutting & pasting all my photos & ideas onto the page. My first solo homemade publication! Sold 8,000 copies in the first two years all over the country and mail orders came to me from over a dozen countries world wide, Yugoslavia and Chile being two of the farthest and most impressive to me, the currency sent in envelops from all over, much of it i would never trade in (some i still have & put in the collage in the MY RULES book endsheets)..

This is part three of three of the story...
The last two thousand trickled out over the following 8 years or so, and now a days some of my last few N.O.S. go for over $300 a pop, on eBay you can find them at different times for as little as $30 and as much as $399 just depends on the timing... Anyway, theres my day off sermon, hope you liked it

Monday, October 8, 2018

SCHOOL OF LIFE MONDAY:
The Secret to Leaving Comments Online

Reading the Comments sections beneath films and articles can leave one feeling certain that humanity must have gone mad - or is inherently vicious and unkind. The truth is a good deal less tragic: it's just that we've never been taught how to comment or how to spot the connection between our own unhappiness and alienation - and our desire to take vengeance in the anonymous digital world.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Selfie deaths:
259 people reported dead seeking the perfect picture

from the BBC:
The quest for extreme selfies killed 259 people between 2011 and 2017, a 2018 global study has revealed.
Researchers at the US National Library of Medicine recommend that 'no selfie zones' should be introduced at dangerous spots to reduce deaths.
These would include the tops of mountains, tall buildings and lakes, where many of the deaths occurred.
Drowning, transport accidents and falling were found to be the most common cause of death.
But death by animals, electrocution, fire and firearms also appeared frequently in reports from around the world.
In July this year, 19-year-old Gavin Zimmerman fell to his death while taking selfies on a cliff in New South Wales, Australia.

Tomer Frankfurter died in California's Yosemite National Park in September after falling 250 metres while trying to take a selfie.
News reports like this were analysed to compile the study.

They found that selfie-related deaths are most common in India, Russia, the United States and Pakistan and 72.5% of those reported are men.
Previous studies were compiled from Wikipedia pages and Twitter, which researchers say did not give accurate results.
The new study also showed that the number of deaths is on the rise.

There were only three reports of selfie-related deaths in 2011, but that number grew to 98 in 2016 and 93 in 2017.
However, the researchers claim that the actual number of selfie deaths could be much higher because they are never named as the cause of death.

"It is believed that selfie deaths are underreported and the true problem needs to be addressed," it says.
"Certain road accidents while posing for selfies are reported as death due to Road Traffic Accident.
"Thus, the true magnitude of the problem is underestimated. It is therefore important to assess the true burden, causes, and reasons for selfie deaths so that appropriate interventions can be made."

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Capitalism is self-annihilating, not self-perpetuating


from Boing Boing:
Umair Haque (previously) is on fire: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism, Then What’s the Point of Capitalism? "You can see it in stark, comic terms. What are Bezos and Musk doing? Trying to flee to Mars. What’s Gates doing? Recommending you books to read, and trying to save the world with charity. LOL — how ironic. These are different forms of freedom from capitalism. Maybe on Mars, we can build a better world. Maybe through ideas and philanthropy, we can solve the problems that corporations can’t. All the capitalists I see are trying to win freedom from capitalism, in one way or another. Aren’t they?" (via Kottke)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

School of Life Monday:
How We Lie to Ourselves

We are liars of genius when it comes to hiding uncomfortable facts from ourselves. But there’s real wisdom in understanding how we manage to deceive ourselves – and real utility in learning to be a little bit more honest with ourselves.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sunday Sermon:
Visualizing the relative evasiveness of Kavanaugh and Ford

from Boing Boing:

Kavanaugh didn't just DARVO his way through yesterday's hearing: his bluster, tears, rage, and blame-shifting also allowed him to dodge a remarkable number of questions raised by the senators.

Ford, by contrast, answered virtually every question put to her.

Vox went through the transcript and painstakingly logged whether each question raised was addressed. They confirmed the impression that Kavanaugh was dodging the questions and Ford wasn't, and produced an excellent interactive graphic that allows us to visualize the both witnesses' forthrightness and drill down on each question and statement.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A message from to the kids from America's gerontocracy: DON'T VOTE

I don't believe it was just old people, i think it was DUMB, and Racist people... I don't like the anti-age bias. Old people have enough to worry about... but it is bold and makes good points.

from Boing Boing:
This country belongs to whomever shows up. And do you know who shows up for every election? Old people. But only 46% of people18-34 years old voted in the last election.

So the elderly have a disproportionate influence on our politics and our country. And a lot of them would like to keep it that way.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around.”

from CityLab:
A Grassroots Call to Ban Gerrymandering

Voters Not Politicians gathered an astounding 425,000 signatures in Michigan to secure a spot on the November ballot for a proposed constitutional amendment creating a citizens’ commission for redistricting.

LANSING, Michigan—Katie Fahey walks in to the Grand Traverse Pie Company, blocks from the state capitol, wearing a black T-shirt that announces her cause. “Voters should choose their politicians,” it reads, “not the other way around.”

As Fahey steps to the counter to order lunch, the cashier, a 20-something like her, recognizes the message. Last year, he tells her, he signed the initiative petition circulated by Voters Not Politicians to ban gerrymandering.

“We got almost a half a million people to sign,” enthuses Fahey, who founded the group in 2016 based on her viral Facebook post.

“That’s for the midterms?” asks the cashier’s co-worker.

“Yeah! So, Yes on 2, November 6!” Fahey says. “We just need 2 million voters. It’s fine! We got this.”

Fahey’s bravado is both sincere and ironic. An improv troupe founder and a mile-a-minute talker, the short-statured, dark-haired 29-year-old projects an idealistic energy that helped inspire thousands of volunteers through a massive, low-budget petition drive. She’s also wittily understating her group’s mammoth task ahead—and its high stakes for democracy, in Michigan and beyond.

Voters Not Politicians’ efforts have pushed Michigan, a swing state that swung to Donald Trump in 2016, to the forefront of the national movement to fight gerrymandering, the manipulation of election maps for partisan advantage. Michigan is the largest of four states voting in November on proposed changes to how voting districts are drawn after each census. A win in Michigan, one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, could be a turning point for the growing effort to end partisan redistricting one state at a time.

It won’t be easy. But Voters Not Politicians’ volunteer army, led by Fahey, has already taken its effort further than the state’s political insiders thought possible.

The crowdsourced campaign held 33 town-hall meetings in 33 days, wrote a ballot proposal to give redistricting powers to a citizens’ commission, and fanned out across Michigan with clipboards and petitions in hand. Last fall, Voters Not Politicians volunteers collected 425,000 petition signatures in four months to secure a spot on Michigan’s ballot—a rare feat, usually accomplished only by hiring paid signature gatherers.

This fall they’re tackling a new set of challenges to redeploy their canvassers to get out the vote, fund-raise for TV ads, explain a complex proposal, channel Democrats’ anger against Michigan’s Republican gerrymander, and convince Republicans to support their proposal as a swamp-draining reform. Despite the group’s pledge not to work for any party’s advantage, conservative opponents have already tried to label the campaign a stalking horse for Democrats’ ambitions. But polls show it’s winning support across the political spectrum.

“Nobody feels like their politicians are listening to them,” Fahey says. “People want to drain the swamp. They want the political revolution … A lot of people understand that politicians [are] going to be politicians, and that them being able to control the outcome of elections doesn’t make sense.”

On election day 2016, Fahey, then 27, left her job at a recycling nonprofit in Lansing and rushed to the airport, thinking she’d witness history. A friend had an extra ticket to Hillary Clinton’s election watch party in New York City, and Fahey, who’d voted for Clinton that morning, thrilled at the invitation to go. “I could watch the first woman president find out she won,” Fahey remembers thinking.

Instead, Fahey got to Midtown Manhattan in time to watch Donald Trump’s upset victory unfold. She was standing among other Clinton supporters at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, still dressed in the red pantsuit she’d worn to work, when a reporter captured her reaction.

“My disappointment makes me not trust the rest of the world,” Fahey told the Associated Press reporter that night. “I don’t even want to go out. I want to wear sweatpants and curl myself up in a corner.”

Afterward, Fahey says, she thought of her Millennial friends, who’d enthused over Bernie Sanders in 2016, and her parents, who’d grown excited about Trump. “I don’t want to wait four years and the next presidential election for them to stay engaged,” she recalls thinking. She dreaded Thanksgiving with her parents, fearing she’d end up in an argument about Trump and Clinton. “At Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted to talk about fixing stuff, and not candidates or political parties,” she recalls.

Fahey had never been involved in a political campaign, though she exhorted her friends to vote and had talked about her support for Clinton in conversation and enthusiastic Facebook posts. But she’d passed on attending Michigan State University to study sustainable business and community leadership at Aquinas College, a Dominican liberal-arts college in Grand Rapids that weaved Catholic social teaching into its curriculum. “If I see something not happening, I’m not afraid to go jump in and fix it,” she says. In the fall of 2016, Fahey was working full-time at the Michigan Recycling Coalition, studying for an M.B.A., and running two comedy troupes and the Grand Rapids Improv Festival. “I’m kind of a doer,” she says.

It’s not always easy to get people riled up about gerrymandering.

Two days after the election, Fahey went on Facebook. “I’d like to take on gerrymandering in Michigan,” she posted. “If you’re interested in doing this as well, please let me know.” She’d learned about gerrymandering in school—in fourth grade, in fifth grade, in 10th grade, in a public-administration class at Aquinas—and it had angered her each time.

“Redistricting,” Fahey says, “is one of the basic building blocks of democracy. It determines how 10 years of elections at a time will end up. And yet we know it’s corrupt and broken, and we don’t do anything about it.”

Her post spread fast. Friends shared it in political Facebook groups. Strangers responded, offering help. Fahey set up a Facebook group of her own, Michiganders for Nonpartisan Redistricting Reform, and asked members to pledge to support a solution that didn’t benefit any individual or party. Organized with Google Sheets, conference calls, and its first in-person meeting in January 2017, the group grew. By February it had chosen a catchier name, Voters Not Politicians. It held 33 town-hall meetings in 33 days, starting in Marquette and Alpena, northern Michigan cities that often get less political attention.

It’s not always easy to get people riled up about gerrymandering, but Michigan proved fertile for a grassroots revolt against it. The state is closely divided politically, yet ever since a Republican-controlled redistricting in 2011, the GOP has enjoyed a 9–5 dominance of the state’s congressional delegation and large majorities in the state legislature. The congressional map in metro Detroit includes some especially freakish shapes: the Eleventh District looks like a sleeping vulture, the Fourteenth a bearded man meditating next to a crocodile’s jaws. Emails sent in 2011 between GOP congressional staffers, consultants, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, recently disclosed in a lawsuit, make the mapmakers’ partisan bias clear. “We’ve spent a lot of time providing options to ensure we have a solid 9–5 delegation in 2012 and beyond,” a chamber executive wrote.


Between 3,000 and 6,000 people came to Voters Not Politicians’ 33 town halls, Fahey says. They filled out surveys that asked if they wanted politicians to draw district lines, and if not, what process they’d prefer. Framing the question that way steered the group toward creating a citizens’ redistricting commission, as in California and Arizona. Specifics were hammered out in two in-person meetings of about 50 people, with others joining online via Google Docs and Trello. “Anyone who wanted to be at the policy table could be,” Fahey says: “a birthing doula, a lawyer, teachers, a caterer, pastor, veterinarian, an HR lawyer.”

The group took advice from Kathay Feng, the executive director of California Common Cause, who helped create her state’s citizens’ redistricting commission in 2008. It also ran its draft by possible future allies, including the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and the ACLU, to ensure it conformed to their endorsement criteria for redistricting reform.

Its proposal would amend Michigan’s constitution to create a 13-member redistricting commission made up of regular citizens: four Republicans, four Democrats, and five independents or members of minor parties. People would apply to join, and the commissioners would be randomly selected from among the qualified applicants, though legislative leaders would be able to strike a few names from the list. To keep political insiders off the commission, the proposal bans partisan elected officials, candidates for partisan offices, lobbyists, political consultants, members of party governing committees, state employees outside civil service, and their close relatives from serving on the commission.

“I can actually impact the changes I’ve been wanting to see through direct democracy.”

More importantly, Fahey says, the proposal would embed fairness in redistricting into the state constitution. “We directly make gerrymandering illegal,” she says. (“Districts shall not provide a disproportionate advantage to any political party,” the proposal reads. “Districts shall not favor or disfavor an incumbent elected official or a candidate.”)

But as Voters Not Politicians prepared to circulate petitions, it got discouraging advice. Conventional wisdom often claims that initiative petitions can’t get enough signatures to make the ballot with a volunteer petition drive alone—it takes paid signature gatherers. “There were a bunch of groups who were like, ‘You guys are crazy. We don’t want to work with you or endorse you yet, because you can’t do it,’” Fahey says. “I said ‘No! We’ve done the math.’”

The group had 180 days to gather 315,000 signatures in a state of 10 million people. “We had a plan,” the field director Jamie Lyons-Eddy says. “We needed 3,000 people to get 10 to 15 signatures a week.” Between social-media recruits and town-hall attendees who signed up to volunteer, 4,000 people ended up circulating petitions. Lyons-Eddy split the state into 14 regions, with about 10 petition teams in each. Still an online-only group with no physical offices, it crowdsourced ideas on where to get people to sign. Highway rest stops proved especially fruitful. One woman collected 80 signatures while dressed up as the gerrymandered Eleventh District.

Costs were about one-tenth of what the conventional wisdom expected: The biggest expenses were $40,000 to print the petitions and $140,000 to have a consultant verify the petitions, much of it chipped in by the volunteers themselves. The group turned in 425,000 signatures, 70 days early. In July, the proposal survived a challenge at the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled 4–3that it fit in the structure of the state constitution.

Fahey thinks the keys to the group’s success were taking on a systemic reform, inviting people to help write the ballot language, making the group easy to join, and having enthusiastic volunteers, not paid workers, convincing people to sign.

“I can actually impact the changes I’ve been wanting to see through direct democracy,” Fahey says, “not through a politician who’s maybe making a bunch of promises and not delivering.”

Late in august, denise yezbick walks through Detroit’s middle-class Palmer Woods neighborhood, holding an oversize clipboard. An adjunct English professor with gray-blond hair that reaches her shoulders, she’s got a Voters Not Politicians button pinned to her purse strap.

Yezbick knocks at a small Tudor Revival house. Matthew Weiner opens the door, wearing a blue T-shirt, gray shorts, and sandals. She asks if he’s heard of Proposal 2. He’s not sure, so she delivers a two-minute pitch for Voters Not Politicians’ proposal.

“This is your voting district, Fourteen, here,” Yezbick says, holding up the back of her clipboard to show a map of the zig-zagging congressional district. “And the reason it’s this crazy shape—”

“Crazy,” Weiner agrees.

Yezbick is careful to sound nonpartisan. “Both Republicans and Democrats abuse the system,” Yezbick says. “It just so happens we’ve got Republicans in power right now.” But as she says Republicans squeezed as many Democrats as possible into the Fourteenth to make surrounding districts less competitive, she’s got a receptive audience in Weiner, for reasons beyond good-government reform.


“I’m against gerrymandering,” Weiner tells Yezbick, “and I’m a Democrat.” His mother-in-law recently read the book Ratf**ked, which describes how Republicans took control of redistricting in many states by targeting key elections in 2010.


Yezbick gets a similar reaction from Beverly Garner, one street over. Garner, holding her baby granddaughter at the door, says she’s a contributor to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She’s known about gerrymandering for a long time, and remembers when Democrats controlled the Michigan legislature in the 1980s and nudged maps in their direction. “I was very, very aware this time,” Garner says, “because of how it affected our area.”

Engaged Democrats like Weiner and Garner could lift Proposal 2 to victory. Pollsters are forecasting a blue wave in Michigan this year: the Democrat Gretchen Whitmer leads the Republican Bill Schuette by double digits in the governor’s race, and Democrats have a shot at taking at least two GOP congressional seats outside Detroit despite the gnarled maps: the Eighth, which stretches from Lansing to Detroit’s northern suburbs, and the sleeping-vulture Eleventh.

Still, Voters Not Politicians has plenty of work ahead. A recent poll found Proposal 2 leading 38 percent to 31 percent, but had another 31 percent of voters undecided. To ramp up for the general election, Voters Not Politicians recently opened its first offices to distribute lawn signs and literature, and is fund-raising to pay for TV ads. As of summer’s end, it’s raised about $2 million, and Fahey says it’ll need millions more to win. Canvassing is still a big part of the strategy: Volunteers have knocked on 148,000 doors so far to spread the word.


Thanks Eric Matthies

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

School of Life Monday:
HISTORY: CONSUMERISM

It’s only very recently in history that we’ve been able to buy more than the bare necessities. Can the history of consumption guide us to a wiser future?