Two interesting studies about minimum wage
. About a recent law to raise minimum wage to $15 in Seattle, a report finds: ” “Our preliminary analysis of grocery, retail, gasoline, and rent prices has found little or no evidence of price increases in Seattle relative to the surrounding areas,” Second, “hiking the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $12 would reduce crime by 3 percent to 5 percent, as fewer people would be forced to turn to illegal activity to make ends meet. By contrast, spending an additional $10 billion on incarceration — a massive increase — would reduce crime by only 1 percent to 4 percent. (Source about crime statistics
Two cool things about Google. First, you can adjust the likelihood of a news source from appearing in the Google News feed
. Second, for people on Google Plus, Google Searches will show at the top relevant G+ wall posts you have made. (Apparently FB has never figured out how to do this). Speaking of which, Google Play Books (GPB) released a new version a little while ago; it’s my preferred choice for reading ebooks on the cloud.
Yesterday I watched on Netflix a funny but forgettable work satire movie “Price Check” with the always great Parker Posey. The soundtrack was cool, laid back, dreamy…downright amazing! Many were sung by a duo called “Dean and Brita” (who played for an on-again off-again 90s rock band named “Luna.”). After googling around (and listening to a few bandcamp tracks, I discovered 1)they were playing in Houston on May 7! 2)in a previous incarnation they were part of an 80s/90s band called “Galaxie 500” (and I happen to have ripped one of their albums from a used CD I bought a long time ago). Here’s a soaring cover version of a Yoko Ono song from their 1990 album “This is Our Music” that will take your breath away. By the way, in the movie, Parker Posey throws a hissy fit, though I can’t think of a movie she stars in when she DOES NOT THROW A HISSY FIT! (The Busy Bee scene
is probably the queen of all hissy fits!).
NEW WORD: A “smombie” is a walking person using a smartphone (or mobile phone) and not paying attention as they walk, possibly risking an accident in the process.
One known effect of climate change is that there is an increase in heavy downpours of rain. This table examines how the frequency has changed over time. Compared to the 1950s, the decade between 2005-2014 has shown startling increases in downpours. The frequency in Houston has increased by 150%; the frequency in New York City and Philadelphia has increased by 350%; in Portland it has increased by 400%.
A podcast must for theatre lovers: BBC Radio’s “Drama of the Week”
offers a (usually) 60 minute long original play by playwrights from all over the world. I used to listen to the radio show religiously when I lived in Europe. BBC offers a podcast download of each week’s episode, but here’s the catch: you can only download the last 2 episodes, so you need to make sure your podcast software is set to automatically download the episodes.
Interesting political news. Both the House and Senate of Arizona voted overwhelmingly to support a National Popular Vote law, so it’s likely to be passed this year. Also, the House and Senate of Oregon overwhelmingly support the National Popular Vote (though only the House voted on it so far). Missouri shows broad bipartisanship support — though neither legislative body has voted for it. In Oklahoma, the Senate has approved the bill; the House hasn’t yet voted even though polling shows that the public supports it by a 2 to 1 margin. It’s probably a good guess that two of these states will approve a National Popular Vote law before 2016 is over. See this no-nonsense explanation by computer scientist John R. Koza.
This budget & fundraising totals
reveal some amazing things about the 2016 election. 1. Trump is spending relatively little and has relatively little money in his campaign chest. 2. Ted Cruz’s campaign + outsiders has generally 3x the budget as Trumps. 3. Sanders has outraised Cruz by a factor of 2. 4. Hilary’s fundraising is about 60% higher than Sanders. If you examine the election only on fundraising, you have to give Trump a lot of credit for getting so far on a restricted budget.
“As of the end of 2015, Trump’s own contributions account for more than half of all money the campaign has taken in. He’s contributed far more of his own money than any other candidate this cycle. However, a significant portion of his money comes from individual contributions. For several months last year, the campaign received far more dollars from potential voters than they did from Trump. Additionally, most of Trump’s contributions have been loans rather than donations, so he may hope to recoup those funds.” (The key word is loans — Trump hasn’t really contributed his own money yet, though he may decide to do so soon.
Just finished watching a great TV documentary about the jazz dancer Norma Miller. In an interview she called this video clip
the best dance scene she’s ever done. (She and her partner are wearing the white chef hats). She is quite a strange character — and still alive at 95. By some coincidence, I had listened to some of her positively lewd comic routines she did with Redd Foxx in the 60s and 70s. It had never occurred to me that she was better known as a dancer….
Imagine if your scale is telling you you are putting on weight, and your doctor’s scale says the same, but your belt is still on the same notch it has long been on. Your belt is certainly a measure of your weight — heavy people have longer belts than lighter people. But it doesn’t measure exactly the same thing as your scale does. It’s a discrepancy that may need to be worked out. Perhaps you are gaining muscle tone. Perhaps your belt is stretching.Suppose, though, that you are adamant about not changing your diet, and you decide to resolve the discrepancy by lawyering up and issuing subpoenas to the manufacturer of your home scale. (You also choose to ignore that your doctor’s scale agrees.) Is this an “investigation”. Clearly, it is not an investigation in any reasonable sense. If you were fairly investigating the question you’d be as interested in the internal workings of the belt’s manufacturer as of the scale’s. Most relevant of all, you would not accuse the scale’s manufacturer of fraud on the grounds that the scale does not account for your belt.
I don’t know how many of my friends are Buffy fans, but I have to say, “The Girl in Question” episode in Season 5 of Angel is one of the funniest episodes ever. (That’s the one where Spike and Angel go traipsing around Italy to find Buffy and the “Immortal”). It satirizes everything Italian and includes a cameo by Drusilla (my favorite character in the Buffyverse).
BROWSER TIP: Right click on any rectangular tab for a browser tab (it must be in the top rectangle — and not just anywhere in the browser). You will see all kinds of bookmark options. I have been browsing on the net for many years and never realized that these options even existed!
But I wonder: If you have an option to close all tabs to the right, why can’t you have an option to close all tabs to the left as well?
This is what I love about the Internet. All you have to do is google a personal need (“How do I save all my tabs in Firefox?”) and suddenly I see a dozen pages listing your options. What did people do before the Internet — suffer in silence?!
“Lonely people are subway art.” (Compelling lyric from a song by NY singer of contemplative socially-conscious rap. Tish’s accompanying slow-motion video
is understated, majestic and has a sparse, desolate beauty — the visuals of “human traffic” reminds me of that incredible 90s music video accompanying R.E.M. vid “Everybody Hurts”)
“Everything you’ve Instagrammed, tweeted, facebooked or snapped has been seen by at least one person while they’re pooping.” (Brett Erlich, Internet comedian). Erlich is involved in all kinds of web projects, but his Viral Video Film School is probably his most successful — see this hilarious vid about hauls
Judging from the trailer
, this new movie promises to be a blockbuster. (Oops, joke is on me, this trailer was circa 2006).
It finally happened. I decided to unlike George Takai on FB. I have nothing against him as a person or even his posts. I am just bored by having Facebook’s algorithms throw his posts at me multiple times during the day and having multiple friends include these posts on my feed. It’s well-known that he doesn’t write most of his posts but instead relies on “ghost posters” to find the cute and clever stuff for him to further publicize his brand. Once again, nothing against Takai personally (I think he’s great). But this unfriending was long overdue. COMING NEXT: Can anyone figure out a way to delete all posts with the word “Trump” in them? (Update: Strangely, there is some kind of TakaiBot that said goodbye in the comment to this wallpost).
(LAUREN WIENER ON AUTHOR RAY BRADBURY
): “Just as Bradbury was not picky about issues of plausibility, he lacked the high-tech fixation that is typical of the science fiction genre. Obviously he liked gadgets — starting with that crystal radio set back in Waukegan — but their secondary status shows in Fahrenheit 451. One of the men involved in a dissident underground, Faber, invents a tiny device through which to secretly help his protégé, Montag, but when this gizmo is discovered and destroyed, no one in the novel makes anything of the loss. It just goes away. Normally science fiction writers will not casually discard such a marvel. Or if they do, they contrive the precious object’s dramatic reappearance, perhaps in a sequel to the original work (or all too often in a tiresome sequel to the sequel). One of Bradbury’s biographers, Sam Weller, said “the purists, in their myopic love affair with hardware,” fail to appreciate that Bradbury wrote “human stories dressed in the baroque accoutrements of his early science fiction influences.”