The Minnesota Department of Health has been running this billboard for a little while.
It got some news coverage because some people find the photo distasteful. I don't care about that; my problem is that I find the photo hard to read.
It's unintelligible enough because it's so contrived, but the designer made an even bigger mistake when s/he chose to use a dark background. Because the man is wearing dark pants, his legs disappear into the background and the reader has even fewer cues to indicate the action that's portrayed.
This is the best photo I could get of the billboard, even though I got off the highway, as close as possible, and got out of the car to take the shot. Meanwhile, the intended reader is whizzing past at 60 miles an hour.
The main impression I get is of a headless person. Not quite what they intended.
An older post about a colonoscopy billboard.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Minnesota Department of Health has been running this billboard for a little while.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
- John Scalzi's new book, The Human Division, an interconnected series of stories that take place in the Old Man's War universe
- What Then Must We Do? by political economist Gar Alperovitz, which I think will be a good companion to Marjorie Kelly's Owning Our Future
- Several books by Jo Walton, a science fiction writer who has risen to prominence without my awareness until recently
- Arguing for Our Lives by Robert Jensen, author of Citizens of the Empire
Friday, May 17, 2013
I have spent many years living in a neighborhood that is frequented by door-to-door canvassers. I have my feelings about canvassers, even though I also have sympathy for the colleges students who fall for the "make a difference this summer" posters.
But at some point you get tired of having your doorbell rung so you can be hit up for money, and eventually you consider a no-soliciting sign. Even then, some folks think it doesn't mean them, and in which case you have to go with something like this:
The person who made the sign says she sometimes hears someone outside the door as they pause, laugh, and walk away.
But others still ring the bell.
It could be worse. You post a set of directions like Tim Minchin's.
Posted at 10:41 PM
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I promised pictures from Tuesday's signing of the marriage equality bill and after-party, and here they are.
The crowd waited in the 95°+ sun for the signing, including two Wisconsinites with signs:
I go for the shirts when it comes time to take photos. It's a weakness of mine:
I had thought about wearing my Vote No shirt, and decided against it, but this guy had a more creative approach:
The Minnesota Freedom Band marched away from the signing on the way to the party, playing "Born This Way."
The tuba player had something to say about slut shaming:
A new kind of tandem bike, with a message:
Minnesota is the 12th state to pass marriage equality. I loved this guy's homemade shirt.
In case you can't read this one, it says Resist Dichotomies:
Big Table Studio, which is located right across the street from the party location, had a small exhibit of posters created to encourage the move to marriage equality.
The first one is letterpress, by Bill Moran. It's metallic silver ink on black paper -- that's a large, wood-type number 8, turned sideways, with other wooden "furniture" used to create the bottom point. And then the letters GLBTQ printed over.
I don't have the artist names on the rest of the posters.
Those not from Minnesota may not know that Judy Garland grew up in a northern Minnesota town (back when she was Frances Gumm). I think that's supposed to be a liberated Betty Crocker on the right.
Paul and Jolly:
Sassy but true:
Big table had its press, right in the front window, running. They had loaded a split fountain of red and blue:
Anyone who wanted could pull a proof onto orange paper:
I got one, too, (big surprise) for my letterpress collection.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Two years ago this week, I was at a fundraising dinner where I ran into Ann Kaner-Roth, a former client, who by that time was executive director of Project 515, a Minnesota nonprofit group dedicated to legalizing same-sex marriage. (The name refers to the 515 legal privileges accorded to married couples in Minnesota.) As we spoke, the Republican-controlled state legislature was on the verge of approving a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It did so the next week.
I asked Ann if we would be able to turn back an amendment like that, after 31 states -- including, unbelievably, California -- had failed. She hoped we could and said it would come down to organizing.
Project 515 soon joined with an older state GLBT group, OutFront Minnesota, to form a campaign organization, which they called Minnesotans United for All Families. That group successfully organized to defeat the amendment, mainly through an incredible phone bank of volunteers (and a memorable, clear graphic identity, I might add).
At the same time the amendment went down in flames, the state's voters also turned both houses of the legislature back to the DFL (Democrats), and so with a DFL governor who is a long-time marriage-equality supporter, it seemed possible that marriage equality would come to a vote in the 2013 session.
Even so, it wasn't a sure thing, and the speeches were something to hear. The vote was 75 - 59 last Thursday in the House and 37 - 30 in the Senate on Monday. One Senate and four House Republicans voted for it.
I do worry about the 2014 election, though. 2010 was horrible in Minnesota and if the next off-year election is similar, the whole thing could be overturned. Though I think it's unlikely the governor will be defeated since no one seems to want to run against him, so at least there's that.
The bill signing on Tuesday was at 5:15 p.m. on the steps of the Capitol. The governor, Senate and House sponsors, and the campaign head spoke in the 95° sun. Then we followed the Minnesota Freedom Band to downtown St. Paul where a huge party was going on.
What a day in Minnesota.
More photos tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Last night's All In with Chris Hayes had a good segment about the IRS/tea party controversy. One guest was David Cay Johnston, long-time New York Times tax law reporter.
Hayes and Johnston agreed with my initial thoughts on the situation: We don't fault the IRS for scrutinizing groups. That means the agency was doing what it should with applications for tax exemption. Our problem is that they may not have been doing enough of it.
I think any group that applies for tax exempt status should have to prove it deserves it. This isn't about the right to exist -- it's about a special status based on benefiting the public good. I've been part of nonprofit groups since the early 1980s, and the fact that Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is considered a nonprofit astonishes me every minute.
As we creaky oldsters say, "back in the day" that would have been unthinkable. The closest a group could get to that type of political involvement was a legislative scorecard, or possibly a radio/television ad on an issue that didn't mention candidates' names. (But we didn't have the money for that too often.)
I disagree with selective enforcement, of course, but I'm not persuaded yet that's what was happening here, despite the Fox News hysteria. In the context of the last few years, groups with words like "patriot" and "tea party" in their names were clearly good candidates for violating the rules, as would a group with "progressive" in its name. If it's shown that the progressives or equivalent weren't checked carefully, though, I would have a problem with that.
I suspect what happened was the huge influx of groups meant the agency didn't have the budget to check them all thoroughly, so they tried to apply their resources where they would most likely catch something. It will turn out to be a funding question, not a witch hunt.
(I have to admit I'm confused by Hayes or Johnston's mention of the Citizens United decision in this context, though. Citizens United says corporations have speech rights, it doesn't say they're entitled to tax-exempt status. So I'm not sure what it has to do with this specifically, aside from providing a context.)
Everyone should remember that the head of the IRS branch responsible for this extra scrutiny was appointed by George W. Bush, not Barack Obama. So does it seem likely that Obama would choose this as the way to get at political enemies? Sounds pretty silly to me.
There are two ways this could play out: The IRS can be defanged or it could be given claws to go with the fangs. I vote for the claws.
Update: As I suspected, the IRS nonprofit division is overloaded and understaffed.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I'm too excited to write about the Minnesota legislature's votes on marriage equality today and last week. The governor will be signing the bill tomorrow afternoon.
So in the meantime, here's a letter from today's Star Tribune on a completely different topic. The writer, Walker Angell of Vadnais Heights, was responding to an earlier letter that talked about how road costs needed to be better shared if people were going to bike more.
Bicyclists Pay More than Their Fair Share for Roads
Only about half of road funding comes from user fees such as gas taxes, registration fees, and tolls. The other half comes from general funds. Do taxpayers who don't drive subsidize those who do?
Now, consider that each car requires more than 25 times as much paved surface to drive and park as a bike does and more than 80 times as much as walking does. Roadways for 4,000-pound cars also require much greater expense per square foot to build and maintain than bikeways for 200-pound cyclists. Worse, in a century of expensive road building, we've yet to build our way out of congestion.
Or, that in the United States we spend about $8,000 per person annually on health care, double what other developed countries spend, and that this gap is projected to increase. Sitting behind the wheel of a car is perhaps the least healthy activity (non-activity) that most of us do each day. However, someone who rides a bike to work twice a week costs about $1,200 per year less in health care as others.
And we haven't yet touched on the costs of air, water, and noise pollution from motor vehicles. Or that bikes burn calories, not oil. Or the costs of motor-vehicle crashes that we all share (in 2011, drivers of motor vehicles in Minnesota killed 368 people and injured more than 30,000, for an estimated cost of $1.5 billion)….
I'm keeping this in the back pocket of my mind for the next time someone tries to argue that bikers are moochers.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
From a tweet the other day by Eddi Reader, whom I gather is a well-known (though not to me) Scottish singer. She wrote:
Bertrand Russell to Oswald Mosley in 1962. This is how to tell a fascist you won't debate with them.And then she linked to this:
(The letter image was posted by author and historian Guy Walters.)
Which caused me to look up Oswald Mosley, 1896-1980, since I've never heard of him. After reading through enough British titleage to feel like it was a script from Downton Abbey, I came across this gem:
During this marriage he had an extended affair with his wife's younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, and with their stepmother, Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston, the U.S.-born second wife and widow of Lord Curzon of Kedleston.If he wasn't also a fascist, that would be plenty of reason to dislike him.
But then there was this:
[His wife] died of peritonitis in 1933, after which Mosley married his mistress Diana Guinness, née Mitford (1910–2003). They married in secret in Germany on 6 October 1936 in the Berlin home of Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler was one of the guests.Charming.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Another new discovery of something old: shorpy.com, an archive of historical photos from 1850 to 1950. Many come from the Library of Congress, but others are from the writer's collection or other sources s/he finds or members send in.
I particularly liked this one:
It's not representative of most of the images on the site, which are a window into life of the past.
Friday, May 10, 2013
More tabs than I know what to do with once again, so here's a screen dump.
A TED talk on sexual violence, geared to men, by Jackson Katz. One point Katz makes is that when a Marine officer or a sports figure makes a sexist comment, "He doesn't need sensitivity training. He needs leadership training. He's being a bad leader." Lots of good points. Worth the 19 minutes.
Who really uses math in their jobs?
Clearly, it's "upper blue collar" workers, which I assume means people like tool and die makers or other manufacturing workers working with advanced equipment. Least likely to use math: "low white collar" workers. Not sure who that is exactly -- service workers, like fast food or convenience store clerks? From The Atlantic.
Kerrie Miller had a recent show on the U.S. power grid -- I only heard half of it so far, but it sounded like it would be worth hearing the whole thing. The guests were Massoud Amin, director of the Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota, and Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy.
Are happy gut bacteria key to weight loss? From Mother Jones.
Climate change isn't just about the environment -- it's a health problem. From the Guardian.
Elusive Energy: Why is saving energy so hard -- and what can we do about it?. From ensia.com
The New York Police Departments's stop and frisk policy not only violates the Constitution, it's ineffective as well:
Even white people, who are relatively unaccosted, are searched 27 times for each time something is found -- and more drugs and non-gun weapons are found on the 435,000 whites who are searched than on the 2.3 million blacks.
Big surprise: Extreme political attitudes may stem from an illusion of understanding. A Kennedy School of Government study found that if people are asked to explain an issue (such as raising the Social Security retirement age or implementing merit-based pay for teachers), they suddenly realize they don't know as much as they thought they did, and the extremity of their views is moderated.
The most basic freedom is the freedom to quit by Peter Gray on PsychologyToday.com. Full of great points, such as:
- Divorce availability correlates with less domestic violence against women.
- Freedom to leave your country keeps government abuse in check, and countries where people are not free to leave are the most likely to abuse human rights.
- Hunter gatherer peoples don't put up with crap from their fellows because they're already highly mobile, and it's easy to move to a new group. This results in social organization that is less hierarchical and more consensus-based.
The Star Tribune reported recently that Consumer Reports found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in most of the ground turkey they analyzed. CR took 257 samples of raw ground turkey from a range of brands and retailers and tested for five bacteria. Four of those cause food poisoning in people. The result: 90 percent had at least one of the bacteria, and more than half of the bacteria were resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics. Organic and antibiotic-free turkey products were much less likely to be resistant, though it doesn't mention if they had a lower prevalence of bacteria. All of these bacteria would be killed by sufficient heat, of course, but that leaves the possibility of contamination during preparation, let alone under-cooking.
Did you hear Sandra Day O'Connor now says that she was wrong on Bush v. Gore in 2000? As Slate put it, Sandra Day Late.
Carbon bubble will plunge the world into another financial crisis. Reported by the Guardian.
Trademarks: the good, the bad and the ugly. It's time we stopped giving trademark bullies a free pass to tell us what our own words mean – it's time to take them back. By Cory Doctorow, writing in the Guardian. "The law is there to protect the public interest, and the public interest isn't undermined by the strength or weakness of an association with a specific word or mark with a specific company. The public interest extends to preventing fraud, and trademark uses the motivation of protecting profits to incentivise firms to uphold the public interest."
Thursday, May 9, 2013
From a blog called Hoyden About Town:
If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not.More where this came from.
If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t.
If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. They are.
If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest, and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else.”
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
From an article in my college alumni magazine, about a professor who researches crows.
- Average life span of a crow in the wild: 4 to 6 years
- Age of the oldest captive wild crow: 59 years
- Decline in U.S. crow populations since the arrival of the West Nile virus: 45 percent
- Speed of a crow in flight: 30 to 60 miles per hour
- Miles a crow flies in a day, collecting food: 25
- Size of an average crow: 1 pound, 36" wingspan
Photo by Walter Siegmund from the Wikimedia Commons