Monday, March 26, 2012

frightening facts of the day: Health and Education on the Minimum Wage

from Health and Education on the Minimum Wage | CEPR Blog:
A minimum-wage worker in 1979, making $2.90 per hour, had to work 254 hours in a year to pay the $738 annual cost of tuition at a public four-year college in that same year. By 2010, minimum-wage workers at $7.25 per hour had to spend 923 hours to cover the $6,695 annual tuition at a public four-year college.

...In 1979, one year of individual health insurance coverage cost a minimum-wage worker 130 hours. By 2011, the same coverage cost 749 hours.

Friday, March 23, 2012

today's reason I hate capitalism, or eighteen teeth to go

Scott Hanselman posted this on Google+ a while back:
Me to Wife: "I feel a little conspicuous at this Walmart."

Wife: "We've got too many teeth."
I'm quoting that now because I had another tooth extracted yesterday. It had a complicated—but relatively painless—history, and all the dental folks involved were great. Dr. Black at El Rio Community Health Center found what appeared to be a failed root canal. Dr. Bui at Southeast Arizona Endodontics in Arizona began a surgical procedure to save the tooth, only to find that it had a crack which had not appeared on the X-rays. He essentially cemented the crack to buy me time to decide what to do after our move to Minneapolis. Dr. Basi at Northern Star Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Minnesota pulled the tooth. I recommend them all highly.

But I'm down to eighteen teeth now. Most of my missing teeth went because when you're poor in a country that doesn't provide dental care, extractions are much cheaper than root canals. Which is, of course, why rich people casually joke about those who have missing teeth—the class marker is as obvious as it can be.

Mind you, I don't mean to single out Hanselman, who seems like a fine fellow. His wife was stating a truth—a lot of poor people shop at Walmart, and one of the ways you can tell that is by the number of their teeth.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

today's reason I hate capitalism, or whining about Paypal and the phone company

One of Emma's favorite movies is The President's Analyst. After spending half an hour on the phone with Centurylink, I think it's ripe for a remake.

Also, rather than let me withdraw my money, Paypal wants to confirm my address by making an automated call to me at a landline phone. Excuse me, what century is this? I called their help center and was told the wait would be over five minutes, so I sent them email. An email bot sent back a response that was useless, so I replied, repeating myself more tersely. Maybe a human will get involved eventually.

Incidentally, the biggest reason there isn't enough work for everyone today? Automation, which would be creating paradise on Earth if the wealth was shared, but is currently only another way to make the rich richer. You don't hear much about that anymore because capitalists want you to blame foreign workers.

Here endeth the grump session.

To close on a happy note: Emma and I are taking the light rail shortly to hear Celtic bands. Yay, light rail and Celtic bands! This would only be better if the Celtic bands were playing on the train.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

today's reason I hate capitalism, or how to get a better rate from your bank

I called Wells Fargo to cancel our banking accounts. The nice woman asked why. I said we get better rates with a credit union. She asked if I would like to speak with someone about the possibility of a competitive rate from the bank.

I said no, 'cause the best banks are still institutions to exploit folks, but I realized that if I was a serious capitalist, I would call everyone I had an account with and threaten to close it, just to see if I would get a better deal.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Class War Report of the Day: The Reproduction of Privilege - NYTimes.com

The Reproduction of Privilege - NYTimes.com: "“The income-achievement gap is now more than twice as large as the black-white achievement gap. Fifty years ago, in contrast, the black-white gap was twice as large as the income gap,” according to Sean Reardon, a professor of education and sociology at Stanford, writing in “The Widening Academic Achievement Gap between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations:”"

Monday, March 12, 2012

yes, the internet is the electricity of the 21st century, plus a John Carter rec

We have broadband at last. This is good. I have nothing profound to say about the modern need for the net, but anyone who thinks it should be a privilege rather than a right is no friend of humanity.

Saw John Carter today. It may've benefitted from a few bad reviews; I had the fun after the first ten minutes or so. Someone convinced them to start with two unnecessary sequences, so don't fret if you show up a few minutes late.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

a drug that reduces racism?

Does Propranolol Reduce Racism? Probably Yes, Subconsciously.

When I did the Project Implicit test, like a large minority of white folks, I learned I have an implicit preference for black folks. I dunno if Propranolol would've eliminated that. The idea of a drug that eliminates racism may excite some people, but it worries me—humans are a combination of their opinions, good and bad, and being able to control other people's opinions is the dream of every hierarch.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

breaking internet silence

We're in our new home, and quite happy with it, and have increased sympathy for anyone who moves. We've done almost nothing social yet, and I am becoming much too familiar with the way Ikea designers think. When everything's unpacked and there's a place for everything, we'll be less asocial—leaning toward prosocial, not antisocial, we hope.

The two frustrations are the cold white stuff from the sky and delays in getting internet. We signed up for the citywide service, only to learn on installation day that we're in a dead spot, probably due to being surrounded by trees and tall stucco homes. So we've signed up for DSL, and Centurylink takes a surprisingly long time to get around to throwing a switch—we should have home internet next week.

Hasta luego!