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Why the Republicans winning the Senate might be a good thing

i’ve been bumming most of the day.  The election results were pretty terrible.  I voted just so i would not feel as bad about them (tho it turned out to be a good thing because the Warner Senate race was actually close).

Red Tide

Red Tide

Then i read the following piece called Chill Out, Liberals! The Republicans Took The Senate And That’s TERRIBLE…For Them.  I thought it was really clever and i am discount re-blogging it.  The first 2/3rds of the article is below.  All the graphics are my additions.

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What? Did you think this would be good news for Republicans? Not a chance!

You see, for the last 6 years, the only thing Republicans have had to do is say “No!” to anything and everything President Obama and the Democrats put forth. That’s easy when your base hates the president so much they would happily light themselves on fire if he said “Third degree burns are bad for you.”

president-obama-Bye-legacy

This rage keeps the right wing voting for Republicans as long as Republicans tell them what they want to hear: Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist Commie Nazi that stole the elections, government is the problem and we’re here to stop Big Gub’mint blablabla…

But now Republicans have to do something they no longer know how to do: Lead.

Shooting spitballs from the back of the class at the smart kids doesn’t require much effort. Standing at the front of the class and solving problems requires both brains and discipline and the GOP is sorely lacking in both.

This is the same Republican Party that forced a government shutdown because the Tea Party caucus blocked their own debt ceiling bill because it wasn’t extreme enough.

This is the same Republican Party that forced Speaker of the House John Boehner to pull his own immigration bill because the Tea Party caucus decided it wasn’t extreme enough.

This is the same Republican Party that has been threatening to impeach President Obama for years. Heck, they came up with a ridiculous lawsuit against the president that no law firm will take because judges keep laughing it out of court.

The Republican Party is controlled by crazed extremists and they will use their new found power to prove just how crazy they are. They can’t help themselves.

Love the Tennis Racket

Love the Tennis Racket

Here’s the next two years:

  • Now that they have the Senate, conservatives will demand that the GOP repeal/defund Obamacare but the ACA is too deeply entrenched now. Attacking people’s healthcare is a sure path to electoral suicide but the base won’t care because they hate Obama with a blind rage. If Republicans don’t try, the base will turn on them and here come the primaries from the far right.

impeach-obama-billboard

  • Impeachment!!!! The base and Fox News want impeachment proceedings so badly they can taste it. The base is dumb enough to think it will work, Fox simply wants the massive ratings the doomed-to-fail impeachment hearings will bring. Republicans in the Senate still remember how much damage their last attempt to impeach a Democratic president did and won’t want to even try. And then here come the primaries from the far right again.
  • The House will pass insane bills and the Senate will try to smooth out the extremism to attract even a handful of Democrats. The House GOP will froth at the mouth and here come those primary challenges.
  • Ted Cruz will be running for president and will take every opportunity to undermine Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader. Cruz already has a track record of sabotaging the GOP for his own personal gain. Expect that to get worse.
  • Several other Republicans will be running for president as well and they will be loudly demagoging to the farthest of the far right. Expect normal humans to be nauseated.
  • Mitch McConnell has already said he will be trying to blackmail President Obama at every opportunity with threatened shutdowns. How do you think that’s going to go over with the public?
Where Gridlock Comes From

Where Gridlock Comes From

Sure, the press will mindlessly repeat Republican claims that Obama is responsible for the continued gridlock but the thing about being the one writing the bills to put in front of the president is that your name actually has to be on it. Now Democrats can sit back and point out the GOP’s extremism and even the “liberal” media will have a hard time blaming Democrats for it.

TO finish this article go to AddictingInfo’s Chill Out, Liberals! The Republicans Took The Senate And That’s TERRIBLE…For Them

“There is nothing we can do about it”

There is a news story which is breaking over several media recently.  Wired did a feature on it a bit over a week ago called “The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed”.  This article quotes in-the-know sources who say there are “well over 100K people” working on content moderation world wide, mostly in countries like the Philippines.  The Philippines has cultural ties to the US, has a strong English second language culture and can pay people to do this work between $300 and $500 a month – a tiny fraction of doing the same work in the US.

Pressing this too often can give PTSD like symptoms

Pressing this too often can give PTSD like symptoms

This army cleaning the internet for first worlders is suffering pretty serious casualties.  Understandably, people watching sex all day become desensitized to it.  Most of these workers quit this job between 3 to 5 months after starting.  And the visions haunt many content moderators long after they leave the job.  People using kittens as bait for sharks, people setting animals on fire, child abuse and abusive and violent sex literally flood into various social media platforms, often being posted by proud perpetrators.

But what is disturbing about most of the many recent articles on this topic is that the commentators simply throw up their hands and say there is no other solution than this growing suffering army.  The NPR story especially ended with this hopeless approach. [With the recent Slate article as a notable exception to this trend.]

If verified, they ought to do something more than just pull the image.

If verified, they ought to do something more than just pull the image.

In fact, there are numerous fixes.  Slate recommends law enforcement be called in, but i think there is a better way.  You could simply track the number of flagged posts someone has on their Facebook or other social media site, if they get over 3 deemed inappropriate posts you write them a “Cease and Desist” letter, if they don’t you ban them.

We have a created a system where a misplaced value has been placed “freedom of speech” in the form of you can put up what ever you like.  But then we will review it and pull it down if we don’t like it.  But don’t worry we will not make you in any way responsible for their depraved content you post.  I find this particularly messed up, if you consider that a month back Facebook was demanding members use their birth names.  But it is unwilling to say “you can’t post beheading video’s on this family friendly site”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of the Diamond Album

“The music industry is in free fall” my pop star brother said to me after the last show of his i saw.  And by a collection of measures this appears true.

You have likely heard of gold and platinum records, representing 500K and 1 million albums sold respectively.  But not many people have heard of diamond albums, which represent 10 platinum records or 10 million albums sold.  And you are not likely to hear much about them, because they are almost extinct.

One of my personal favorite diamond album winners.

One of my personal favorite diamond album winners.

In it’s endless listing of things, Wikipedia lists the 115 or so diamond albums of all times.  It reads a bit like a classic rock who’s who.  The Beatles and Led Zepplin and Garth Brooks does quite well. Madonna, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel and the Backstreet Boys all have a couple each.  But the partial proof of my brothers claim is that there is only one diamond album in the last decade, it is Adele’s 21 and it is dead last on the list.

The last diamond album ever?

The last diamond album ever?

But don’t lose a lot of sleep worrying about the income of rock stars.  Capitalism takes care of it’s own.  In an article called “Digital music sales are in free fall, as Spotify does to iTunes what iTunes did to CDs”   The article notes:

Good news: The switch from downloading to streaming likely won’t devastate industry revenues like the shift from physical albums to digital downloads did. Despite the accelerating rise of streaming over the past few years, annual US music revenues have held steady at around $7 billion since 2009. That year, traditional purchasing made up 95 percent of total US revenue, compared to only 79 percent last year.

Of course, stopping the bleeding is cold comfort to artists and other industry stakeholders faced with low royalty payments from streaming music services. But while it’s true that the revenue generated from one stream is far lower than the revenue generated by a digital download, that may not matter. Many believe the market for paid music subscriptions is set to explode, particularly on a global scale.

What is really going on here is that services like Spotify and Pandora (and even YouTube) are making it easier to get the music you want by either listening to/viewing ads (which pay artists) or paying the service (which also pay artists) than trying to figure out how to steal it from the labyrinth tubes of the interwebs.

spotify

And while  it is far from played out which type of service will dominate (with social networking solutions like SoundCloud representing a different type of solution) i tend to agree with the upbeat conclusion of the earlier sited article.

So from this perspective, the death of downloads, despite the fact that their payout is higher per-unit than streaming, may not kill the music industry at all. On the contrary, it may resurrect it for the first time in over a decade.

 

 

Within 2 years, Deutsche Bank says rooftop solar will be the cheaper option for everyone

paxus:

While the forecasts are interesting, what i did not realize was that solar was already at grid parity in 10 US states.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

deutsche-us-solar-590x216Deutsche Bank has released a new report predicting that rooftop solar will reach “grid parity” in all 50 states of the U.S. in just two years–by the end of 2016. “Grid parity” means that the cost of obtaining electricity from rooftop solar–including installation–is equal to or less than the cost of obtaining electricity from traditional utilities operating in the state.

This startling conclusion came in an analysis by the Bank’s Vishal Shah, considered a leading solar analyst, of the prospects of Vivint Solar. Vivint is the second largest installer of rooftop solar systems in the U.S. although it currently operates in just seven states. While Deutsche Bank is more bullish on solar prospects that some other investment analysts, as we have been reporting all year just above every major investment firm has released at least one study touting solar’s rapid growth and warning utilities to prepare.

Just a year ago,

View original 713 more words

Extended FAQs – Twin Oaks Membership Process

This is number 2 in the randomly occurring series which extends the answer provided in the Twin Oaks website FAQ section.  The first was on personal possessions.  And this post appends to the answer given about our membership process.  That answer is:

Basically, in order to become a member, a person needs to be willing to abide by the agreements of the community (e.g. no personal cars, our income-sharing agreements, and lots more). They also need to be able to fit into our social norms which, because we live so closely together, are quite particular (e.g. being sensitive to people’s “personal space”, being able to pick up social cues, being able to be cooperative and share control, etc).

The process for membership involves an interview with the Membership Team during a Three-Week Visitor Period. The interview consists of telling one’s life story, and answering questions about how one deals with various aspects of community living like conflict, anger, people with different values, etc. Then there is an input period during which all visitors leave Twin Oaks for some time, and have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and decide if they really do think they want to live here. During this time, each member of the community has an opportunity to give input on the visitor (Accept, Visit Again, or Reject for membership). If there are outstanding health (including mental health) issues those will also be taken into consideration. The Membership Team makes the final decision about a visitor becoming a member.

While generally a fine answer, there are all kinds of things missing here.  The first is the complexity of Twin Oak’s own visitor and membership process.  We have no less than three separate teams inside the community to deal with this process.

arms around the globe

Another thing missing from this answer is that pretty consistently for the last 4 years the community has had a waiting list.   This means if you are in a big hurry to live in community (a state i would recommend no one be in) then Twin Oaks might well be a poor choice of places to come.  Some communities permit accepted visitors to stay indefinitely after their visitor period waiting for a space to open up.  Twin Oaks is not like this.  If accepted, expect to wait 3 months to a year.

One of our stronger rules is that after your visitor period (if you are applying for membership) you need to leave the community.  Usually, this is for at least one month.  This is part of our “anti-cult” orientation.  We want you after your visitor period to return to your family and friends.  If they can’t convince you that the idea of joining a commune is a little bit nuts, they you can come.

Don't drink the Koolaid

Don’t drink the Koolaid

And while it is true 95% of the time that that membership team makes the final decision on accepting, rejecting or visiting again a prospective new member, the remaining 5% of the time is interesting to consider.  While i complain about the internal decision making process in the commune, there are numerous well designed components of it.  How do we deal with splits within the community around membership?  A minority of the membership can reject a visitor or provisional member trying to become a full member, but this minority can be overridden by the majority.  One of the clever aspects of this policy is that the larger the minority rejecting someone, the larger the super majority must be to override them.  At something like 27% rejecting a person, it becomes impossible for the majority to override the minorities decision.

One of the community agreements not explicitly mentioned in the above FAQ is working quota.  During your visitor period you will get assigned a bunch of labor, including an incredible number of orientations.  Including these, you need to work your 42 hours of quota a week.  There are all manner of areas you can work in as a visitor.  Reliably the kitchen has cooking or dish washing cleaning help to offer.  We used to train people in hammocks, because they could always fill up their quota in this area.  Though this is less true these days and some visitor groups don;t even learn how to make hammocks these days.  And we are a bit unforgiving in this.  You stay with us three weeks, if you are interested in membership, you better work 42 hours each week – or have some compelling excuse for not working (remember being sick is labor creditable – to a point).  Visitors not making quota consistently lose their ability to apply for membership on that visit.

Another thing to be aware of is the commune has a second process step for people who are interested in membership who are 55 or older.  One of the policies i most dislike is out Age Cap policy.   It comes from an understandable place, when the average age of the community exceeds 43 years of age, we slow our acceptance of older members to not pre-maturely age the community.  And the reason this is relevant is that Twin Oaks has a very clever pension system, which slowly decreases the quota of members over age 49 by one hour per year.

The other membership cap is around gender.  While i think the community is increasingly well educated in the fluidity of gender (strong gender binaries are so twentieth century) we still maintain an existentialist policy when it comes to capping lopsided gender balances.  Specifically, if we end up with more than 60% male, we cap our admissions of men until we become more balanced.   It would be true for females as well, but this is not really our problem or any of the other FEC communities.  For slightly inexplicable reasons, many fewer women apply for membership at Twin Oaks and of those who do apply, a significantly smaller fraction of those we accept decide to come.  On the positive side of this imbalance (again for inexplicable reasons) women tend to have longer memberships on average then men.

Fortunately, in the 16 years i have been hanging around Twin Oaks, we have never hit this 60%/40% ratio, so unlike the age cap we have not implemented a gender cap to membershiping visitors.  Unfortunately, East Wind has not been so lucky and has had well over 60% male membership for a long time, which gets in the way of the problem correcting itself.

 

Our membership process is more complex

Our membership process is complex and carefully balanced

For a look at some of the other restrictions Twin Oaks puts on it’s member, take a look at this post on our most controversial approval.

 

 

Is storage the new solar? And other news from our solar future…

paxus:

On the failure of the media to keep up with the changes in solar power and the implications for old style utilities

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

Ramping-Up-Renewables-Infographic_FINAL_Full-Size-Panel-1-Web-VersionIt wasn’t that long ago–what, just seven, eight years ago now–that solar power was considered, justifiably, an expensive niche technology. Sure, environmentally solar power has always reigned supreme and there were enough people wanting clean energy for their homes to keep the industry in business, but solar was just too costly for mainstream use.

But behind the scenes, the technology was improving and its costs began dropping. China went into solar in a big way, further reducing costs through mass production. Germany’s long switch to renewables, accelerated by Fukushima, meant another giant market for solar, and solar’s costs didn’t just drop over the past several years, they plummeted.

Indeed, they’ve dropped so far so fast most people still don’t realize what has happened. No wonder then that a public opinion poll released this week found 70% of Americans still say cost is a barrier to their installation of solar power.

View original 1,164 more words

The Other Way to Play

The game of Dominion is fairly popular at the commune.  It is a dynamic card game, and a sister of Magic in that you build decks and the rules are changing all the time.  These kinds of game are pretty complex and they are part of our informal home schooling curriculum.  The fact that our kids want to play, because our adults are playing and because if they play well they can be peers to the adults, are big pluses.

Don't worry if you can't understand it.

Don’t worry if you can’t understand it.

When i first started playing Dominion with Sami he was not yet 5.  Despite being involved in his home school efforts, i dont keep track of where kids are in the educational process by what age they are at.  It is just not something i think about.

One evening Sami and some older kids wanted to play Dominion.  We each choose some of the perhaps 200 different card types we have in the various expansions so we could create a game.  Sami choose a couple of card types he liked as did everyone else.  There was a bit of negotiating to get some better game dynamics on the board.  All friendly negotiations.

Sami at Unicorns Today

Sami at Unicorns School Today

Sami played well, i barely beat him and i was the overall winner.  He got more points than several other kids and adults.

I was talking with Ezra, Sami’s dad, the following day (who Sami had recently beaten) and complimenting his clever kid.  “Yeah, it is pretty impressive.” Confessed Ez.  “Given that he can’t read the cards.”

“What?” i said

“He can’t read yet.  But he really wanted to play.  So he memorized all the cards so he could play.”  Ez explained.

“But there are like 200 different cards, and some are crazy complicated.” i was amazed.

“Like i said, he really wanted to play.”

Ezra, Sami and Zadek and NYC skyline - Circa 2014

Ezra, Sami and Zadek and NYC skyline – Circa 2014

 

 

 

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