Friday, March 16, 2012

The Ides of Tabs

So much media goodness lately.

Sara Robinson at Salon on why the 40-hour work week is more than a nicety: it's the most productive amount of time for people to work. Adding hours doesn't result in correlated amounts of output. How did the change to working more happen? She answers that, too.

The Same Rowdy Crowd's Joe Loveland reframes Minnesota's upcoming Constitutional amendments. Requiring a supermajority to raise taxes, becoming a "right to work" state, requiring voters to show photo ID, defining marriage as between one man and one woman -- there's a succinct way to rephrase each of those to expose their pitfalls.

As Maggie Koerth-Baker said on Boing Boing, it's only a hypothesis, and it's just beginning to be tested... but there's a possibility the obesity epidemic is caused by air pollution and increased amounts of carbon dioxide. Wow. I look forward to hearing results on that one!

I have to remember this: The short-term thinking often associated with being poor (and therefore making bad long-term decisions) is a result of being poor and under stress, rather than the other way around. In one experiment, for instance, when economically privileged subjects were put into a stressful situation, it took about 10 minutes for them to start making really bad decisions.

Barbara Ehrenreich is coordinating a new effort to pay unemployed or underemployed journalists in an Economic Hardship Reporting Project. They'll be investigating all of the ways the "greased chute" of poverty operates, exactly opposite of the ladder we're all taught to believe exists in America. Ehrenreich gives her perspective on the past few decades of writing and policy about poverty here. She makes clear the need for the Project:

...a new discovery of poverty is long overdue. This time, we’ll have to take account not only of stereotypical Skid Row residents and Appalachians, but of foreclosed-upon suburbanites, laid-off tech workers, and America’s ever-growing army of the “working poor.” And if we look closely enough, we’ll have to conclude that poverty is not, after all, a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.
This five-minute TED Talk uses humor to dynamite entertainment industry claims about financial losses from piracy.

Gar Alperovitz has a three-part series in Yes! magazine. (I know I should subscribe to Yes!, but the one time I read an issue back-to-back, I got so depressed I was afraid to look at another one.) But knowing that Alperovitz is all about solutions (even though he describes problems), it's safe to read these.
Oh, and hey -- did you hear that the pink slime beef byproducts that are rinsed with ammonia has a trademarked name? I kid you not. It's even capitalized: Lean Finely Textured Beef.

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