Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer, All a-Twitter

Another July, and Twitter is still here. Though I hear they may start filtering our feeds, similar to Facebook, based on some mysterious algorithm that figures out what you're interested in.

Regular readers of my best-of-Twitter posts may note a bunch here from a new source named Jamie Kilstein, a male feminist vegan atheist comedian. He has a podcast called Citizen Radio.

I noticed that several of this month's tweets are about the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case:

Is it illegal for me to ask what religion a corporation is during a job interview?
By Mat Honan

An illustrated guide to American personhood:

By Sarah Baker

It's almost as if the linkage between employment and health care is a fundamentally terrible idea.
By Tom Tomorrow

You know, I *did* have this sneaky feeling that making a basic human right dependent on market/employer whims was kinda iffy.
By Blake Stacey

Reminder: It's 2014 and still conservatives are all fussy pants that women can suppress our own ovulation like it belongs to us.
By Amanda Marcotte 

I wonder how many corporations would object to paying for female contraception if they had to pay for maternity leave...
By Jason Sweeney

Still waiting for a corporation to have a religious objection to paying so little that their employees have to live off food stamps.
By Pete Nicely

Keep your filthy hands off my guns while I decide what you can & can't do with your uterus.
By Sarah Silverman 

Am always intrigued when Rush Limbaugh, married like 20 times & childless, says how birth control is just for hos.
By Josh Marshall Also faved by: Jen Deaderick

If a business’ owners want religious protection, they should lose all corporate/LLC protections and isolations, as the company is personal.
By Marco Arment
And others are about the child refugee build-up at our southern border:
BREAKING: Nation of immigrants who fled persecution persecutes immigrants fleeing persecution, irony surrenders to stupidity
By Rex Huppke 

The Statue of Liberty, traditionally the symbol of Protecting The Homeland from immigrants:

By David Roth

Nothing shows your pride in America more than standing at the border and screaming at people who want to be Americans.
By Frank Conniff

God, grant me the serenity to yell at immigrant children, the courage to still say I'm a Christian, and the ignorance to not get the irony.
By Rex Huppke
But otherwise, no major patterns, other than my usual topics, strewn throughout:
An English teacher discussing homophones on a school's website was fired for "promoting a gay agenda." Really.
By Hemant Mehta

Attn Business Insider, that's not his "torso":

By Rob Beschizza

There's something vaguely terrifying about a grown man wearing overalls. If only one side is buttoned, the end is near.
By Aparna Nancherla

If they put Shirley Chisholm on the $20 I would cash out my bank account in $20s and roll around in them.
By Sarah Jaffe

It's still strikes me as really weird that we debate how to seriously cut poverty as if no one else has figured it out.
By Matt Bruenig

Here is a cool monster from a medieval map if you needed that today. It is a “sea-pig.” (via

By mapzen

Markets structurally impoverish the disabled, elderly, young, families with children -- the constant churn of those it unemploys.
By Matt Bruenig

Is it inevitable that with age, even smart people start saying things that are okay, but slightly, weirdly, out of touch? Don't answer that.
By Monika Bauerlein

America’s debt load:

By Demos_Org

Play With It As It Lays. #DogMovies.
By Frank Conniff

Poor kids need democratic schooling the most because they're often the ones confined in the most regimented, authoritarian environments.
By Nikhil Goyal

Segregation within school is at least as much of a problem as segregation by school. Aggregate number's hide this.
By Adam Holman

"Whiteness is the original identity politics. And, worse still, it was militarized identity politics." – Gerald Horne
By Greg Carr

"The redemptive power of _______" is a phrase usually applied to things that don't work for me.
By Chris Steller

We should question the sacrosanct nature of college, but also acknowledge that alternatives to college aren't attainable for low-income.
By Nikhil Goyal

I hate hipsters. Their smug faces, their vegan diet, tiny feet and sawdust bedding. No wait, I meant hamsters.
By Athena Scalzi

I look forward to the day when motorists have to roll down the window and push a button...

By Highchair Kings

"I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all." – E. B. White
By Jon Winokur

My mind boggles at the amount of effort spent on the technical solution of a CMS [content management system, used on websites] when content and people problems are virtually ignored.
By Mark Boulton

When will they make a movie about a bunch of cool dudes having one last adventure before settling down? Come on, Hollywood!
By jamiekilstein

We went directly from "gays destroy society" (actually still in TX GOP platform) to "waaa stop oppressing me" without pausing at "I'm sorry."
By Josh Barro

In 2013 Cook County [Chicago] spent $500M on prisons and $1.9M on violence prevention. What if we reversed those numbers?
By Emily McGinley

Good thing the USA has "In God We Trust" on their money, otherwise I might think they were some greedy, selfish, corrupt jerks.
By almightygod

By jamiekilstein

Who benefits from getting society to believe the sky is falling?
By Sisyphus38

It's sad to live in a country where you dread important cases going to the Supreme Court.
By jamiekilstein

Unclear on the concept:

By Stacey Burns

"People talking about traditional marriage between a man & a woman usually also mean the woman should be submissive." Quoting #citizenradio
By Faith Beauchemin

I have an alert set up for when we all stop capitalizing the Web.
By Chris Steller

The idea that we can't have legitimate critiques of elected officials we support is absurd.
By Brittney Cooper

Before you marry a person you should first make them use a computer with slow internet to see who they really are.
By Bill Murray

People often forget that when Milton Glaser designed the “I ❤ NY” logo, he also gave birth to the whole idea of using “I ❤ for anything.
By Nick Sherman

Cooking pasta when suddenly, Cookie Monster:

By Halloween Costumes 

I hate when adults call kids lazy. It means that the kid doesn’t want to do what you want him to do but would rather do what he wants to do.
By Sisyphus38

I really wish Star Trek hadn't skipped over the part about how Earth became a peaceful planet. That seems like useful information right now.
By pourmecoffee

It’s very important that the department stores of the world keep fat people looking frumpy. So you can spot us in a crowd.
By Rainbow Rowell

New female Thor to be paid less than male Thor. Reports already suggest she is "bossy" and displays "God-like" arrogance.
By Wajahat Ali

You think people are pissed about a black Captain America & female Thor, wait until they realize Superman was an undocumented immigrant baby
By Steve Marmel

Here's what happens if you wash and blow-dry a cow.

By Matt Owen

It's weird that when it comes to the idea of Love Thy Neighbor, many Conservative Christians want a religious exemption.
By Frank Conniff

Since I ride a bike I keep getting told to OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS, but when I do that in the car it pisses people off. Super confusing.
By Ken Paulman

Used to be afraid of Jehovah's Witnesses talking to me about Jesus & God, now afraid of foodies talking to me about cast iron pans and chili.
By Rich Lowtax Kyanka

If you get in arguments about the atrocities happening in Gaza feel free to use me as your "Jewish Friend."
By jamiekilstein

Talking about charter schools without talking about selection bias is just talking.
By Patrick Steele

Are political reporters legally required to use the term "partisan wrangling" in every article they write?
By Jonathan Blake

"Each of us values what we read differently. Rubrics depend on the pretense that all readers can or should agree." – Maja Wilson
By Alfie Kohn

I get chain mail and chain letters mixed up.
By Chris Steller

Efficiency is bullshit. Efficiency is the demand of an industrial system wanting us to bend humanity to the demand of money and machine
By Audrey Watters

Whenever writing seems too hard, I remember that Black Beauty managed to write his autobiography, and he didn't even have hands.
By M. Molly Backes

One more time: Jails and prisons ARE inherently violent. They ARE violence.
By Prison Culture

If I found out Michael Bay was going to make a 3D Calvin and Hobbes movie I think that's when I would stop joking and actually hunt him down.
By jamiekilstein

Asking Dick and Liz Cheney about public policy is like asking Jenny McCarthy about vaccines.
By Josh Barro

Problem: Daughter got totally gendered toys for her birthday. Solution: teach her to disassemble them.

By Don Neufeld

Gazans seem to have a lot of grit and persistence to withstand this stuff every few months. Bet their test scores are through the roof.
By Matt Bruenig

We're giving $8 million a day to Israel to help the occupation while people in Detroit are getting their water turned off.
By Dawud Walid

In a world where graphic design is crime one brave frog stuck in white cube in the fog zone won't forget his passion:


When you use data to study people, ask "who gains power with this info?" If it's not the people whose data you are using, there's a problem.
By Hilary Mason

Seriously though, Hollywood is never more committed to non-traditional casting than when it's picking Northern Europeans for bible epics.
By AdamSerwer

"The emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, 'It's a girl.'" — Shirley Chisholm
By The Crisis Magazine

I don't believe in broad statements.
By Chris Steller

"Why buy a cow if you get the milk for free?" the man asked. "I'm not for sale," growled the cow. The man screamed as a talking cow ate him.
By Julieanne Smolinski

They told me I couldn't have a pet dinosaur. They LIED:

By Erin Schmalfeld

One way that power factions train people to submit is to make them so jaded they say "this doesn't surprise us" for every abuse.
By Glenn Greenwald

$400 billion for warplanes. There's no financial crisis in the US. We simply care more about killing brown people than we do anything else.
By Saladin Ahmed

When you concentrate on my many weaknesses, I will too, and I will become that story.
By Sisyphus38

Being a lady means realizing that, if you went back in time to meet your heroes, a lot of them would probably try to grope you.
By Maggie Koerth-Baker

I am embarrassed at some of the opinions I held 10 years ago. I wonder if I will think the same 10 years from now.
By Sisyphus38

Never liked the term “nonfiction." The truth should have its own word, and not be shackled to its antonym.
By Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neither standards nor testing nor weakening tenure address the opportunity gap; these are red herrings unlike equity in funding & class size.
By leonie haimson

Tweets about food stamps are fun to read because a lot of them are impossible, e.g. people claiming someone used food stamps at McDonalds.
By Matt Bruenig

Good food stamp critics are also clairvoyant -- they know people's intentions and home life details.
By David Kaib

Thanking God for sparing you in a natural disaster is like sending a thank-you note to a serial killer for stabbing the family next door.
By Mrs. Betty Bowers

Something has gone very wrong if we'll pay $5 for a greeting card, $3 for gift wrap, but resent paying more than $2.99 for a book.
By John Connolly

"We need to invade the Middle East to get those women back their rights! ...Just not equal pay, birth control and a say in their bodies!"
By jamiekilstein

"We show grace to the institutions of systemic sin while condemning the individual sinner. It should be the other way around."
By Craig Greenfield

We need less hackathons, more apprenticeships. Less bootcamps, more classes. Less rockstars, more mentors. Develop people instead of product.
By Jordan Rinke

If you want great public schools, start with children and work UPWARD. Instead, our policy makers start with corporations and work DOWNWARD.
By Mark Naison

YOU are likely a WORKER, and thus, it is in YOUR best interest for EVERY WORKER to have the RIGHTS you want for yourself.
By Paul Thomas

If a type designer is staring a little too intently at your chest, you're probably wearing a shirt with their font on it.
By Process Type Foundry

"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within." —James Baldwin
By Paul Thomas

Someone found Godzilla in Michigan:

By Halloween Costumes

Look at it this way, if there were no hypocrites there would be no cartoonists.
By Mathew Paust

FACT: In recent study, majority of white grads found a job through friends/family. 68% of black grads found it on their own.

This generation is bad because they spend too much time on their phones, unlike the Good Generation that fire-hosed black people.
By Alaina Grey

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.
By Socrates


By Marcus Brigstocke

How to ruin a book: Step 1) Assigned Reading. Step 2) Chapter Questions. Step 3) Vocabulary.
By Paul Pichurski

I think the Melissa Harris Perry Show is the only news show whose idea of covering women's issues isn't shopping tips or keeping-your-hubby-in-line segments.
By jamiekilstein

It's almost crazy to think that before Twitter, all of this nonsense stayed in people's heads.
By Chris Rock

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Visiting the Library of Congress

I spent just a few hours in the Library of Congress yesterday. Avoiding the official tour -- just like I avoided all the 101 classes in college -- I have come away without a great idea of what its role is, but realizing that a heck of a lot of people work there. For some reason, I hadn't remembered that it comprises several block-sized buildings, not just the 1890s-era Thomas Jefferson building that is its symbol and most public-facing structure.

The Great Hall of the Jefferson building is a giant hodgepodge of late 19th-century European architecture. Eye-catching to almost an overwhelming degree, but in an impress-the-yokels kind of way.

The thing that probably set off my kitsch alarm were the two pairs of baby figures located half way up the flanking stairways. Yes, the baby on the left is supposed to be a Native American child wearing a feather headdress (as actual native children would never do, but sheesh, how else would you know it was supposed to be an Indian?). The one on the right is supposed to be an African child, looking pretty miserable.

On the other staircase, we have a very unattractive "Asian" baby and a European child (this one is a girl, based on the hair style).

These figures are meant to personify the continents (with North and South America as one continent, and Europe as separate from its shared landmass, Asia, of course.... tough luck to Australia and Antarctica in the depictions).

The building includes a lot of beautiful tile work, both up and down. Here are a couple of the floors:

And a lot of decorative painting:

I did enjoy the graphic arts exhibit, which contained recent and not-so-recent works. The gallery is named for Herblock, and there was a nice representation of his work, including this one from the 1960s, well after the Brown v. Board of Education decision:

The neat thing about seeing Herblock's original work is to appreciate his technique, which is to use a somewhat dry ink brush on a textured surface. This results in an almost halftone-like texture, great for reproduction on newsprint.

This cartoon, by Bill Mauldin, accompanied another temporary exhibit, about the 1963 March on Washington. What a perfect critique of the "not so fast" argument that's too-often made when oppression is challenged.

This Mayan jaguar sculpture, made in ceramics between 600 and 900 CE, was one of the most compelling art pieces I've seen in a while. To the Maya, jaguars "are not only the special patrons and protectors of kings but are also the deities representing the sun in its nocturnal aspect."

From the sublime to the ridiculous, check out the treats in the Library of Congress gift shop.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Seven Monuments

Today was a whirlwind of monument-visiting on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

It's been 30 years since my last visit and it was the first time for Daughter Number-Three-Point-One. Come to think of it, almost half of these didn't exist the last time I was here.

Martin Luther King, Jr., emerges from a 30-foot block of granite located near the Tidal Basin cherry trees.

FDR and Fala at about twice life size. The memorial is a series of gardens and sculptures that represent each of his terms. This statue is at the end of the garden.

Part of the Korean War Memorial: a platoon strides through a field in ponchos and helmets, on patrol.

Picture-taking is the main activity at the Lincoln Memorial.

The Washington Monument as seen from across the Tidal Basin.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where silence still reigns more than 30 years after the monument opened.

Albert Einstein on the lawn of the National Science Foundation. From the way the bronze is rubbed, it's clear that people often perch upon his right knee.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Suddenly, Gil Scott-Heron

Wandering down a street in Washington, D.C. today, I came upon this sign, which is part of a walking tour in the Logan Circle neighborhood:

That's Gil Scott-Heron on the left, with Brian Jackson on the right. The photo caption reports that they lived at 1 Logan Circle in the early 1970s. Here's the house now:

Looking around on the interweb, I found out their album, Winter in America (1973) was originally called Supernatural Corner. That's the title of the painting on the cover, and also a reference to the house on Logan Circle, which they thought was haunted.

That was my find for the day.


Here are my past posts that discuss Gil Scott-Heron and his work.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Showing the Hills

I grew up in a place with topography -- hills, valleys, winding roads, and all. But I moved to mostly flat Minnesota almost 30 years ago, and so when I travel I can be surprised when following a map on foot, only to find that it's all up hill (or seems that way).

So I love this idea:

Note that red, green, and blue are used to indicate severity of slope, and that the map also shows the varying quality levels of the walking paths. Very useful for people who are not as sure-footed as others.

Shared on the Twitter account All Things Mapping.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Month of Tabs, Summer 2014

It's been a while since I did a Too Many Tabs post. Not because there haven't been tabs sitting open, unfortunately. Just a lack of time to process them mentally.

Here goes.

Strong Female Protagonist is a web comic by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. What happens when a teenaged super hero gives up the job and tries to be a regular college student?

New report reveals 'excessive' militarization of U.S. police. From the ACLU, on Mashable. Here's a direct link to the ACLU post about their report.

What happened when we gave our daughter my last name. Predictable comments, I suppose ("Why did your husband let you do that?"), but I found them pretty different from my experience doing the same thing 20 years ago.

One in 10 premature deaths in U.S. is linked to alcohol. By Susan Perry on MinnPost. (Here's a previous post of mine on premature deaths.)

Forget red state, blue state: Is your state "tight" or "loose"? From Mother Jones, more on the cultural aspects of our political divide.

When all the jobs belong to robots, do we still need jobs? Cory Doctorow, writing on Boing Boing, about the "problem" of abundance.

Wall Street as cause and beneficiary of skyrocketing university tuition.

How does IQ relate to personality? Openness to experience was the most strongly related. "Eight [other] dimensions of personality ... were positively related to IQ, including organization, toughness, provocativeness, leadership, self-disclosure, emotional stability, moderation, and happiness– although the correlations were much smaller than with intellectual engagement and mental quickness. IQ was negatively related to orderliness, morality, nurturance, tenderness, and sociability, but again, the negative correlations were much smaller than the relationships among IQ, intellectual engagement, and mental quickness." (Emphasis added.) From Scientific American.

Also from Scientific American, what does introversion really mean?

Should we stop teaching calculus in high school? From Forbes. I've given my thoughts on high school math curriculum before... so this article should come as no surprise.

Red meat isn't very green: Study finds beef pollutes far more than pork, poultry, dairy, eggs. Twice as much, in fact. And note that the study didn't look at the levels for fish or plants, so beef was only being compared to its closest competitors in the pollution/green house gas derby.

Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless. From Vox.

You probably already saw this one, but just in case not: The pitchforks are coming… for us plutocrats. Billionaire Nick Hanauer explains why it may be in the interest of the 1% to share just a bit.

As a follow-up to Hanauer's piece, and in the context of recent news of American corporations merging with European companies to dodge taxes, an IPS journalist wonders whether there a connection between CEOs’ narcissism and corporate tax-dodging.

And this from Matt Bruenig: The totally doable slate of economic reforms that conservatives are losing their minds over. (Universal basic income, land taxes, sovereign wealth funds, and public banks -- from an article in Rolling Stone.) Related to his work on how to cut the poverty rate in half.

After a black woman professor, crossing a street on her college campus, was assaulted by police for jaywalking (despite the fact that lots of white pedestrians did the same thing), For Harriet asks, Should black professors hide their credentials from the police?

Why wars always end up hurting the most vulnerable Americans. "The centennial of World War I is a chance to remember naive predictions about how it and other fights would improve society—and the awful abuses those wars actually enabled." From The Atlantic.

Dos and don’ts to combat online sexism. And this link,, which you can send to anyone who insists that acting against an aspect of oppression is itself a form of oppression.

GMOs, Silver Bullets and the Trap of Reductionist Thinking. "The biggest problem with GMOs isn’t technology. It’s when technology is used as a silver bullet, without considering the broader context within which it operates." Jonathan Foley writing on

How home health-care aides are a microcosm of the jobs crisis. From Demos.

For boys, moving to a wealthier neighborhood is as traumatic as going to war: Leaving poverty is more complicated than you think. From the New Republic.

The good news of what's happening around the world: Four data visualizations on global violence, prosperity, health, and hunger/food access.

Steven Pinker visited Science Friday a while back to discuss the origins of human violence.

The case against patents, from NPR's Planet Money.

Why poor schools can’t win at standardized testing. The companies that create the most important state and national exams also publish textbooks that contain many of the answers. Unfortunately, low-income school districts can’t afford to buy them. From The Atlantic.

How the sweetener industry sugar-coats science. From Mother Jones.

The progressive case for ending the minimum wage. From The Week.

Small lifestyle changes could have a big impact on Alzheimer's risk, study finds. More from Susan Perry at MinnPost.

Finally, a nice grouping of bike and street design articles:

Friday, July 25, 2014

In Which I Solve the Education Achievement Gap

Teachers and education "reformers" have been battling back and forth in the editorial page and letters of the Star Tribune recently. First, a Strib editorial said everyone needs an effective teacher, and that would solve the achievement gap.

Then teacher Melinda Bennett responded in an op-ed, saying it doesn't matter how effective the teacher is if the kids aren't fed, have moved three times in a year (or are living in a homeless shelter), and are justifiably angry at the world because of all this.

Today, there are two letters in response. One reiterates the point about research proving effective teachers work no matter what. The other, from a reading specialist in the Minneapolis schools, supports Bennett's claim that students can't learn when they're abused, neglected, and hungry. She also, however, says students need their parents involved in their educations, including their homework.

Here's what we know:

What keeps us from doing these types of payments? I would pin it mostly on racism, which underlies the persistent white American attitude about the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor.

There's more to solving the achievement gap. See my earlier post, based largely on Diane Ravitch's great book Reign of Error, for more.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jo Walton's My Real Children

I've just added Jo Walton to my list of all-time favorites. Her newest book, My Real Children, once again reinforces my sense that she's my mental sister (which would make her Daughter Number Five, I suppose). Narcissistic of me, of course, but that's how it feels.

The book explores the idea of the multiverse through the life (lives) of one woman, born in 1926 and spending her last years, present-day, in a nursing home. As she falls further into dementia, Patricia (nicknamed Pat or Trish depending on which life) sees both the lives and doesn't know which was real, or if both were real. The reader is certainly convinced that both are.

Walton's touch is light as she describes two varying 20th centuries that provide the backdrop for Pat's and Trish's existences. The fact that neither one is our 20th century makes for an additional mental challenge.

My only complaint about the book is the U.S. cover (shown above). It makes it look like a 19th century romance. The main character is a thoroughly mid- to late-20th century woman, and in one life is even described as having short hair. Who is this bebunned, retiring girl? It makes me sad to think about book marketers' perception of the U.S. audience.

The U.K. cover is much better:

If you want to read a review that gives away a bit more of the story, check out this one on

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Clever Sign, I Wonder If It Works?

Seen at an ice cream shop:

I didn't even see the distressed ice cream faces until I looked at the photo.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Scenes from the Real America

Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas... two weeks on the road and then back to Minnesota. Here are a few things seen along the road.

I think these first two were from Illinois:

The red Solo cup may seem like it's just a cup to those of us in the fake America, but in the real America is a symbol of.... something.

Defiance of all the chardonnay-sippers, I think.

Hobby Lobby supplies rolling along the road in southern Illinois or maybe Missouri.

A gigantic Amoco sign in Saint Louis.

This photo from Nashville, a few blocks from the Vanderbilt University campus, looks kind of meaningless, but here's what it shows: That's a seven-lane city street. On the far side is a way-too-long block with a hotel in the middle (the building that's lit by the setting sun). On either side of the hotel, there's construction and the sidewalk is completely closed. Note the crosswalk leading to the closed sidewalk. There is absolutely no legal way to get to that hotel on foot.

Way to make a city for cars instead of people, Nashville!

Hungry pigeons in Nashville.

They don't call it the Bible Belt for nothing. In addition to this one denying evolution, there were lots of billboards about abortion. Though I'm not sure there are more than in Minnesota, they clearly had a more religious message.

While clearly, Asheville (North Carolina) knows its place in Real America.

I did get to see my first Krispy Kreme shop, though, and smell the hot donuts coming off the conveyor belt. People order them by the dozen. When we ordered two donuts they had a hard time believing it was just. Two. Donuts. (Seen in Chattanooga.)

What trip across northern Alabama would be complete without a stop in Scottsboro?

The town of Corinth, Mississippi, in the northwest corner of the state, had some nice ghost signs, including this one for a drink I've never heard of. I especially like the phrase "at founts."