the day after labor day

Alma Sewing

Alma Sewing, 1935. Oil on canvas. By Francis Criss. Criss, along with Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth were part of the Precisionists movement. Viewers will have already noticed the clean graceful lines gives the painting an almost 3D appearance.

Protecting the Promise of Labor Day: Five Ways Workers are Under Attack

In 1897, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday, reacting to pressure from unions following the contentious Pullman Strike.

Over the next century, unions fought to win all sorts of benefits for Americans, ranging from widespread employer-sponsored health care to reduced workdays. But this Labor Day, many of these hard-fought benefits are under attack:

Pensions: Thanks to federal reforms and labor activism, private sector pension plans proliferated in the twentieth century. In March of 1949, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that companies had to bargain with their unions over pensions. Walter Reuther – the famous United Auto Workers (UAW) leader who also addressed the 1963 March On Washington – demanded that Ford Motor Company offer retirement security in the form of pensions, and led his workers in a strike in order to win it. By September 1949, Ford agreed to a $100-a-month pension – a decision that had huge ramifications for pro-pension activism nationwide.

Today, pensions across the country are under attack. In 1979, 38 percent of workers in the private sector had access to a defined benefit plan. By 2010, only 15 percent had access to such a plan. Meanwhile in the public sector, both state and local governments continue to cut pensions even while handing out massive tax giveaways to corporations.

The Right To Organize: One right unions gave America is the ability to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, hours and working conditions. In the 1950s more than a third of Americans belonged to unions; in 1952, there were 470 strikes involving 2.7 million workers. The recent wave of anti-union laws and aggressive anti-labor tactics by businesses has meant that far fewer Americans have been able to join a union. By the end of 2012 only 11.3 percent of Americans were unionized. Today, right-wing politicians have signed laws aimed at undermining collective bargaining in both the public and private sectors.

Income Equality: As unionization peaked in the middle of the last century, so did income equality. Incomes became “dramatically more equal in the 1940s” and “remained roughly stable through the postwar economic booms of the 1950s and 1960s.” But as researchers at the Center for American Progress found, as union membership decreased, the middle class’s share of national income shrunk at a similar rate.

Access To Health Care: “The rise of unions in the 1930s and 1940s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, “the U.S. set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering ‘fringe benefits’ – notably, health insurance.” By 1950, “half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.” Today, corporations are cutting health benefits and fighting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which unions helped pass.

Fair Hours: In the late nineteenth century, unions started to call for an eight-hour workday, and on May Day in 1886, over 300,000 Americans went on strike for a shorter work day. Within decades, railroad workers won an eight-hour workday, and by the 1950s, most other workers had 40-hour weeks as well. Before this burst of labor activism, the average workweek for Americans was much longer — in 1870 it was 61 hours.

In the post-WWII era, the average American worker worked less hours than even a French worker, but the trend reversed itself in the 1980s and the last few decades have seen Americans working more for less. During the same time, productivity decoupled itself from wages, meaning Americans were working more hours while not necessarily reaping the benefits – likely another outcome of declining unionization.

While these attacks on workers and their rights have been incredibly damaging, there is reason for optimism. Last year’s massive Chicago teachers’ strike won a number of benefits for both teachers and students. As Allison Kilkenny documented, for the first time in modern American history, labor strikes are becoming a widespread tool for workers in the fast food industry – with strikes in dozens of cities this past week. As workers continue to organize to beat back attacks on American labor rights, they can turn to those workers in the fast-food industry for inspiration. “I know I’m risking my job, but it’s my right to fight for my deserve,” said Julio Wilson, a Little Caesars worker in Raleigh, North Carolina, who dreams of the day his $9-an-hour wage will be large enough to care for both himself and his daughter.

Advertisements

snowy central park wallpaper

snowy central park wallpaper

snowy central park wallpaper

A microbe in the gut of a stick insect could help scientists to unravel the puzzle of antibiotic resistance

Professor Tony Maxwell, head of biological chemistry, said: “We have discovered the microbe in the stick insect’s gut is resistant to toxins and infections it could never have been exposed to.

“This indicates that there is a general mechanism at work.

Perfectly designed humans learning from an organism the size of a pen dot.

Palma

Palma – a city plan map, 1593. By Pasquale Cicogna and Georg Braun.

The details at the link are well explained, if a little complicated, but this is the end result, Health Insurance “Coverage Gap” Coming to a Red State Near You

The resulting Republican body count is staggering. Thanks to the GOP’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, 1.3 million people in Texas, 1 million in Florida, 534,000 in Georgia and 267,000 in Missouri will be ensnared in the coverage gap.

A combination of people who are seniors, or poor or elderly and poor. Conservatives would either respond with a cheer at the prospect of their deaths or tell them to get a job in the fast food industry.

 

candlelight wallpaper, remotely controlled brain experiment works, the moral deficit of conservatism

candlelight serenade wallpaper

candlelight serenade wallpaper

 

Maybe because of recent news that an NSA employee used their position and authority to stalk an ex-spouse, I’m feeling a little more cynical about this news than I should, Researcher remotely controls colleague’s body with brain

On Aug. 12, University of Washington researcher Rajesh Rao sent the finger-flicking brain signal to his colleague, Andrea Stocco, in a demonstration of human-to-human brain signaling, according to a university announcement.

…A video of the experiment released on the lab team’s website shows Rao observing a cannon-firing video game while wearing an electrical brain-signal reading cap. By imagining his right finger flicking during the game, he triggered the actual motion in Stocco, who sat in a distant lab, wearing a cap designed to send magnetic stimulation signals to his brain. In effect, Rao’s thought was transferred across the campus, via the Internet, to trigger the motion in Stocco, who described it as feeling like an involuntary twitch, according to the announcement.

The development of sophisticated electronic surveillance and the ability to store vast quantities of data was also a great advancement in our national security toolbox. Many of as realize that technology has been badly abused. So there is little reason to believe that advances in directly controlled brain technology will not be abused as well. If only our ethical standards would keep pace with technology.

Starry Night

Starry Night, 1893 by Edvard Munch. Oil on canvas. An interesting contrast with Vincent Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. Munch is said to have been more interested in conveying the mood of the setting, or his mood anyway, rather than emphasizing the picturesque qualities.

Pennsylvania, Rep. Tom Marino (R) Tells The Elderly ‘We Do Not Have The Money’ To Fund Meals On Wheels

At a visit to the Meals on Wheels program headquarters in Monroe and Lackawanna counties in his home state of Pennsylvania, Rep. Tom Marino (R) said that he supports the program but that he is concerned with reducing long-term debt. While calling the funding of Meals on Wheels a “no-brainer,” he still said “I can’t stand here and tell you your agency won’t be cut.”

“It’s going to take two decades — even if we start now — to try to eliminate this debt,” he said. “Folks, we do not have the money. The revenue is not there. How are you going to pay for it?”

The executive directors of the program delivered comments written on paper plates from the low-income elderly recipients of the meals asking him to help end sequestration cuts and increase the program’s funding. The local programs haven’t had to reduce meal days yet, but Linda Steier, executive director of Meals on Wheels in the area, told the Pocono Record, “It’s looming large.”

Still, those programs are among the fortunate, as many others across the country have had to reduce the number of meals they serve, freeze new enrollees, shutter community centers, and furlough staff. In fact, nearly 70 percent report having to reduce their meals. All told, initial projections were that $41 million in federal funding for the program would be cut, resulting in as many as 19 million fewer meals served.

We, the gov’mint have enough money to pay Tom $179k a year, subsidize his and his family’s health care insurance with a gold plated plan. The deficit has gone down every year since 2009. So he is lying about having some kind of deficit emergency. If you grow old in the USA you’re entitled to the dignity and respect of having enough nutritious food to survive. Tom, who obviously has no interest in representing or respecting elder Americans not only feels differently, he feels so strongly about not feeding seniors he is willing to lie and exaggerate to not feed them or respect them. Tom has an emergency deficit. A deficit of basic morality.,

mountain train wallpaper, the sequester has consequences, marriage is something the working class can no longer afford

mountain train wallpaper

mountain train wallpaper

 

Apparently Rupert Murdoch only believes in hiring editorial board members who have no use for math, WSJ’s Stephen Moore: Devastating Sequestration Cuts Are A “Success” Free Of “Negative Consequences”. There are people in the world who do not have to take off their shoes to do simple math, and even more math wizards here.

Train concourse, Union Station, Washington, D.C. Between 1905 and 1910

Train concourse, Union Station, Washington, D.C. Between 1905 and 1910.

Love And Work Don’t Always Work for Working Class in America, Study Shows

The decline and disappearance of stable, unionized full-time jobs with health insurance and pensions for people who lack a college degree has had profound effects on working-class Americans who now are less likely to get married, stay married, and have their children within marriage than those with college degrees, a new University of Virginia and Harvard University study has found.

The research, “Intimate Inequalities: Love and Work in a Post-Industrial Landscape,” will be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Working-class people with insecure work and few resources, little stability, and no ability to plan for a foreseeable future become concerned with their own survival and often become unable to imagine being able to provide materially and emotionally for others,” said Sarah Corse, an associate professor of sociology in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences and the study’s lead author. “Insecure work changes peoples’ non-work lives.”

The study was conducted through direct interviews and surveys with more than 300 working- and middle-class men and women in the U.S. The study participants were white, African-American, Asian, and Latino, between the ages of 18 and 70, and with a range of educational histories. They were married, single, divorced, cohabitating, and widowed, as well as non-parents and biological and adoptive parents.

The researchers found, generally, that educated middle-class workers are better able to recover from the destabilizing effects of insecure work than the working class, and therefore can seek and find stability in relationships.

“Marriage is becoming a distinctive social institution marking middle-class status,” Corse said.

People who are living in an unsecure and unstable situation have difficulty being trustful of possible partners because of the risk of betrayal, noted Harvard sociologist Jennifer Silva, Corse’s co-investigator, who earned her sociology Ph.D. at U.Va. They also find it difficult to meet material or financial obligations and may feel that the emotional and psychological commitment required by marriage is too great a demand on top of other challenges.

“Marriage has lost its relevance as a marker of adulthood,” said Silva, author of the book, Coming Up Short: Working Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty, to be published in August by Oxford University Press.

People with college degrees, however, tend to work in stable jobs with better incomes allowing for the emotional and material commitment of marriage and having children within marriage. Middle- and upper-middle class people, as a result, express high expectations for their marriages, centering on self-fulfillment, deeply engaged parenting by both parents, and psycho-emotional awareness. They also “insure” themselves against marital complacency, conflict, and dissolution through private material and emotional “investments,” such as therapy and special “date nights,” Corse said.

According to Corse and Silva, wages for the non-college-educated have fallen dramatically in the United States as manufacturing work has been outsourced to other countries, greatly reducing the number of high-paying union jobs with good benefits.

Increasingly, the jobs available to those without a college degree are service-sector jobs, many of which are short-term and/or part-time and lack benefits, they said.

“These are foundational changes in the labor market for the working class and they broadly affect people’s lives,” they said. “Our interviewees without college degrees expressed feelings of distrust and even fear about intimate relationships, and had difficulty imagining being able to provide for others.”

College-educated middle-class workers, with material, cultural, and intellectual resources, are more resilient, however, when faced with the effects of possible insecure work in tough times, and therefore are more able to commit to marriage and to planning families.

In the U.S. almost everyone from people living in exclusive gated communities to people trying to get by on minimum wage and living with two roommates, describes themselves as middle-class. All these people might be middle-class culturally, but economically they are very far apart.

ye old scientific theories, oklahoma conservative is a con-man

flowering pear tree wallpaper

flowering pear tree wallpaper

 

The Most Bonkers Scientific Theories (Almost) Nobody Believes Anymore

The ancient Greeks were the first to have the crazy idea that a lamb could grow right out of the ground, with a stem attached to its navel. Pliny the Elder later mentioned it, and Europeans picked up the idea again in the 14th century.

This is the exceedingly strange legend of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary.

Now, these folks were well aware of where lambs came from. They were baby sheep that came out of mommy sheep. Or a stork drops it off. Or whatever. But their story may have arisen out of the first Western accounts of cotton plants, which an ancient Greek by the name of Megasthenes found in India, referring to them as “trees on which wool grows.”

I had not heard the lamb and cotton plant legend before. There is more at the link. It is fascinating how word of mouth becomes highly distorted gossip, which became a conventional wisdom. Matt also includes Phrenology: Like Reading a Crystal Ball, But With People’s Heads. I’ve seen and heard people in real life and the movies play around with phrenology, but I’m not sure they’re serious. It has some ethnocentric origins. It was not enough for old European powers like Spain, France and England to invade, seize countries for profit and subjugate the local population, they had to have some “scientific” rationale like phrenology that showed for a fact these people were inferior.

Pratiqve de la Guerre. Contenant l'usage de

A roughish translation of the title of this book, Pratiqve of War. Containing the use of Artillery, Bombs & Mortars, Artificial Lights & Petards, Sappes & Mines, Bridges & Pontoons, Trenches & Works, With Assault order to Breches. All vn trafficking lights Ioye / by  Francis Malthus. 1650. Malthus was a French engineer and expert in assaulting fortresses.  While very scientific for it’s time, I am fairly certain they did not have guys that rode geese and threw lightning bolts.

Congressman Claims Widespread Fraud Because He Saw ‘Physically Fit’ Couple Use Food Stamps

At a town hall in Welch, OK on Thursday, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) called for the outright elimination of aid programs for low-income Americans, claiming that he has witnessed food stamp fraud firsthand. Mullin said he would like to “do away with a lot of these programs” because they allow people to slack off.

“The food programs are designed to take care of people who can’t work, not won’t work. And we all know those people that won’t work, right?” he asked the audience. “They’re abusing the program, and we’ve got to get them off of it.”

[  ]…Despite Mullin’s conviction that these people cannot be legitimately needy, solely on the basis that they look “physically fit,” food stamp fraud is down to just 1 percent. If the Congressman has noticed an increase in food stamp users in his local grocery store, evidence points to the nation’s dismal employment rate as the true culprit.

Meanwhile, many of those who receive SNAP benefits (from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) work: More than 40 percent of recipients live in a household with earnings. Those who don’t work are likely to be under 18 or over 60. In fact, strict eligibility requirements for the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program have disqualified one in four food insecure households for being too high-income, and are allowing at least 50 million people to go hungry. Regardless, House Republicans are gunning for more cuts that would kick millions more families off the vital program.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)  is another amateur magician – look over here at this hand where he claims people are stealing pennies ( if you pay federal income taxes, less than 1penny of every dollar you pay goes to food assistance). Do not look at this hand where corporations, places where people reportedly work, are ripping the American public off for billions, and keeping trillions in offshore  banks. Listen to yet another freaky anecdotal story about people who are discouraged from working so they can cash in on that $4 a day in food. Pay no attention to the Walton family who has the net worth of the bottom 30 percent of Americans, yet tax payers subsidize every employee because they do not pay a living wage – neither do most restaurants, fast food joints or large retailers like Target, Sears, Home Depot, Hobby Lobby or Best Buy. Do not look at the pay of the top executives at those companies or how easy their average work day is compared to a minimum wage employee. Conservatives economic policies since the 1980s have made it a priority to shift to an economy that rewards wealth and punishes work.

Conservative economic punishes working class Americans

privatization is a synonym for stealing

black and white city wallpaper

black and white city wallpaper

8 Ways Privatization Has Failed America. Paul Buchheit takes a look at the ways privatization fever has given working class Americans the shaft. Those who enjoy a good argument are welcome to try debating the congregation of true believers preaching the gospel of privatize everything. I find that like most zealots, their minds are not open to either facts or humanitarian based arguments.

Worse yet, corporations profit from the very water they pollute. Dioxin-dumping Dow Chemicals is investing in water purification. Monsanto has been accused of privatizing its own pollution sites in order to sell filtered water back to the public.

Internet, TV, and Phone

It seems the whole world is leaving us behind on the Internet. According to the OECD, South Korea has Internet speeds up to 200 times faster than the average speed in the U.S., at about half the cost. Customers are charged about $30 a month in Hong Kong or Korea or parts of Europe for much faster service than in the U.S., while triple-play packages in other countries go for about half of our Comcast or AT&T charges.

The scam where corporations poison your water and offer to clean it up for a profit is ingenious.

Your phone and ISP payments – they might be little cheaper if the CEO was not pretending to provide some absolutely essential management skills for which he must make $21 million in 2012. he did not do any like saving kidney surgery, find a way to improve solar cell energy efficiency by 10%. he did not rescue any elderly couples from a burning building, he did not take urine samples to the lab or clean up your sick uncle’s puke. he did not replace the trees clear-cut for that new strip mall. He did not invent any new telecommunications technology – scientists did that. He did not dig a little ditch to bury your cable line. he did not find a cure for arthritis or diabetes. he did not even program a cool video game or write a great song or paint an inspiring painting. The basic skills anyone needs to run a company can be learned at any local community college. Yet, as Will on The Newsroom would likely say, he and other CEOs are worth what they get because it is what the market will bear. Only that is based purely on the perception of subjective value. Like many CEOs, the CEO of AT&T is a magician whose best trick is making people believe he is worth more than $55k a year.

A page from The first six books of the Elements of Euclid in which coloured diagrams and symbols are used instead of letters, by Oliver Byrne; 1847; W. Pickering, London.

publishing pioneer, rent seekers sucking life out of the economy

The Dun Emer press-room

The Dun Emer press-room, ca. 1903. Elizabeth Corbet Yeats is at the iron hand-press; Beatrice Cassidy, standing, is rolling out ink, and Esther Ryan is correcting proofs at the table. The rear wall of the press-room displays a mural in pastel by the poet and artist AE (George Russell).

The first press founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (1868-1940) was named for the Lady Emer, renowned in the Irish epics for her beauty and artistic skills. The intent was to provide training for young women in a number of occupations by which they might earn their living, including bookbinding, weaving, embroidery, and printing. Among the works Elizabeth published were those of her brother, William Butler Yeats.

Humanity achieves another milestone, Environmental Toxins Enter the Brain Tissue of Polar Bears

“If PFOS and PFCAs can cross the blood-brain barrier in polar bears, it will also be the case in humans. The brain is one of the most essential parts of the body, where anthropogenic chemicals can have a severe impact. However, we are beginning to see the effect of the efforts to minimize the dispersal of this group of contaminants.”

Select environmentally labeled products

The eight carbon chain PFOS and perfluorooctane carboxylate (PFOA) are PFASs have been phased out and are no longer produced in the western world. However, production in China, today the only known production source of PFOS and PFOA, has increased by roughly a factor of 10, since it was phased out in the USA.

China is the wonderland of economic freedom that so many conservatives and libertarians dream of – few regulations, those regs they do have are not rigorously enforced, and no unions.

Larkin Company Administration Building, Buffalo, New York Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Larkin Company Administration Building, Buffalo, New York, 1906.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The five story dark red brick building used pink tinted mortar and utilized steel frame construction. It was noted for many innovations, including air conditioning, stained glass windows, built-in desk furniture, and suspended toilet bowls. Though this was an office building, it still caught the essence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s type of architecture. Sculptor Richard Bock provided ornamentation for the building.

The Larkin building was demolished in 1950.

How Wall Street sucks all the life out of the economy,

Here’s the point that is critical to understand: the rentier performs no useful function, and the economic rent can be eliminated without reducing the supply of the resources needed for production.

[  ]…Never content with its piece of the pie, Wall Street got into the storage business. In a terrific (and all too rare) piece of reporting, the NYTimes has exposed the scam created by Goldman Sachs to corner the aluminum market. You’ve got to read this for yourself, but I’ll summarize the main point. Goldman bought Metro, a storage company in Detroit that handles a quarter of the market’s supply of aluminum. Before the Squid took control, Metro had 50,000 tons of aluminum in storage; under Goldman’s management that has increased to 1.5 million tons.

Based on that growth you might think the aluminum business is booming, right? Well, no. Producers who need aluminum cannot get it—it is all bottled up in Goldman’s warehouses. The typical wait to get an order filled by Goldman’s facilities has grown from six weeks to 16 months.

And here’s the kicker. Goldman doesn’t own an ounce of the aluminum—it merely stores it for the owners. When the owners demand their own aluminum, Goldman claims it cannot be found. This is like depositing your family jewels at the local bank, but when you go to retrieve them, the bank claims it has misplaced your safety deposit box. And so you wait for 16 months.

At the bottom of this rent-seeking are the little worker bees – in another era they were called serfs. In the U.S. No one who does an honest day’s work likes to think of themselves as a serf who is just spinning their wheels to create the capital the rent seekers play with. So change at the top requires some realizations by the average American.