There was no good to be found in today’s job report. It was a blunt reminder that our nation is continuing to drift through an economy unmoored by continued uncertainty and growing unemployment. The ragged appearance of a drop in unemployment is, of course, a lie; while the economy added some 88,000 jobs, the loss of nearly half a million workers who simply abandoned the idea of finding work.
They gave up hope.
In March, 496,000 people took themselves out of the labor force altogether, meaning they stopped searching for work.
When unemployed people quit looking for jobs it can lower the jobless rate. But for all the wrong reasons. Hiring was weak in March. The 88,000 jobs employers added aren’t even enough to keep up with population growth.
So that March drop in the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent likely has more to do with frustrated job seekers giving up than employers buying into the economic recovery.
It is important to note that this is not new. This is not something that simply happened this month or something as a reaction to recent political events: no, this is the continuation of the bleeding. The job participation rate (which you can also see at the linked article) has been falling with regularity for the last decade and most precipitously over the last five years or so.
No, our problems are deeper than any recent political failures and our current leadership has show precisely no capability of conceiving of a plan to solve those problems.Read the original.
The test of the greatness of a critic is in two things: firstly, do you feel as if you understand the art better for their insight, and, second, have they explained their love or hate of the thing in such a way that you have a good idea whether you’ll enjoy it. Roger Ebert wasn’t a critic that I always agreed with (his review of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang managed to point out all the bits that I loved about the movie while explaining how those things left him cold) but who gave me a greater understanding of the movies and of the artistry of the medium.
His political and social offerings weren’t particularly welcome from my corner, but I always believed that he had a right to voice those opinions and use his podium how he saw fit. He carved out his own space in every medium that he chose from television and newspapers to books and social media; most admirably, he did it honestly, bluntly, and on his own terms.
He critical eye will be missed.Read the obituary.
No matter what anyone hoped for, the ruling against ReDigi this week was unsurprising. Their approach to resale of digital files– in specific, your iTunes catalog– may appeal on an emotional level, but it never looked good on a legal level. That is, most people continue to confuse the “fair” in “fair use” for something that has nothing whatsoever to do with the reality of digital musical sales.
Here’s a bit of the ruling as reported by CNet:
“Courts have consistently held that the unauthorized duplication of digital music files over the Internet infringes a copyright owner’s exclusive right to reproduce,” Judge Sullivan wrote. “However, courts have not previously addressed whether the unauthorized transfer of a digital music file over the Internet — where only one file exists before and after the transfer — constitutes reproduction within the meaning of the Copyright Act. The court holds that it does.”
I would suggest that there is an easier way to look at this: when you purchase digital music, you haven’t bought actual ownership of the music. All you’ve done is license that music for your own personal use (indeed, at some point, I’m pretty sure that someone will have to test the heritability issue to find out if your spouse or children or pet, depending on how you’ve written your will, can actually assume ownership of those files after you’ve passed away– my guess is that a strict answer will be “no” but the pragmatics of policing the chain of custody will prove too difficult for enforcement). With a CD, a similar license is purchased but is tied to the actual ownership of the physical device carrying the music– and when you sell that physical device, you’re also selling your rights to “ownership” of the music therein.
The question of how courts view things like transfer of digital files and how copyright violations can occur when groups of people access the “same” file were answered largely when MP3.com lost early court battles to the big music companies. Their scheme was just as careful and thoughtful as ReDigi, but their arguments failed. Rational or not, the precedent already exists for this decision. Indeed, Apple admitted as much when it made its big contribution to the record companies in return for launching iTunes Match, a service with a tremendous similarity to the way MP3.com worked.Read the original.
When you live a certain kind of life– the kind of life that leads you to run around telling everyone that “happiness is overrated,” for example– you find that your idea of beauty might not match the rest of the world’s.
Take this song, for example. “War Memorial,” from Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood, is a melancholy song filled with disturbing imagery and death. In less careful care, this might have become something overwrought and dramatic, but these two keep the tone strangely light, even ethereal.
Lanegan’s voice–often a deep rasp– floats quietly through the gentle sweep of the music in a way that doesn’t even hint at his work in rock bands Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age. For a man with such an earthy voice, “War Memorial” borders on the miraculous. Of course, for fans familiar with his solo work, this will come as less of a surprise: studied melancholy is a bit of a specialty. For newcomers, the good news is that there is more than a decade of incredible music to discover.
But let’s start with this little gem.
Have you heard the news? President Obama has declared April to be National Financial Capability Month with a key goal of teaching young Americans how to budget responsibly.
Together, we can prepare young people to tackle financial challenges — from learning how to budget responsibly to saving for college, starting a business, or opening a retirement account.Financial capability also means helping people avoid scams and demand fair treatment when they take out a mortgage, use a credit card, or apply for a student loan. My Administration continues to encourage responsibility at all levels of our financial system by cracking down on deceptive practices and ensuring that consumers are informed of their rights.
For those who have tended to take a shallow view of the Citizens United case, this is a good opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the legal and philosophical underpinnings of both the majority decision and the dissent, specifically in relation to the concepts of free speech. Published in the Harvard Law Review, I would suggest that it is very even handed in its analysis. Be sure to download and read the linked pdf; the web page is merely introduction.Read the original.
This is an important little piece from Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government blog. It’s compact, but quite important, especially when you understand what the author is critiquing:
If “Setting Priorities” is the most recent attempt to argue for a more coherent internationalist grand strategy — a worthy endeavor — then whatever weaknesses it has might throw into relief some broader problems of U.S. foreign policy.
Why important? Because of this note near the end of the piece:
… the report-like all “national security strategies” published by every administration since Congress mandated the document in 1987-is less a “strategy” document than a list of aspirations and goals.
“Strategic” foreign policy thought, as expressed by our government in the public realm, has long been reduced to talking points, wish lists, and occasional partisan sniping. Now is the time for serious discussion about the proper place of the United States in a changing international landscape of political power. Simply saying that we should show leadership or advocate for some laudable goal isn’t enough. Means, actions, and expected ends along with an honest assessment of what role the US needs to be playing in everything from “democratization” to moderating talks between warring groups.
The United States seems to be suffering a deficit of strong and wise leadership along with a paucity of serious thought in the public realm. While our last presidential election should have revolved around things like our foundering economy and our nebulous foreign policy, it instead seemed to focus on binders full of women, free contraception, and taking gratuitous pot-shots at China. We need better, although I would suggest that our reality-show obsessed culture doesn’t necessarily deserve better. I’ll consider changing that view when we start rewarding serious thought with the same acclaim that we do a bunch of dignity-stripped attention whores and fools on the latest terrifying reality TV series.Read the original.
This is promising and exciting. If the results are found to be accurate then the techniques can not only help subsistence farmers around the world in their search for food security, but it can also help them find ways to build profitable small farms.
This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India’s poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world’s population of seven billion, big news.
It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the “father of rice”, the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields.
This little bit of thought from Paul Solman on PBS concerning the proposed minimum wage hike and what effect it might have on welfare. Aside from his answer, he also throws in some statistics about our current employment situation that is like a splash of cold water.
And get this: Social Security disability benefits have become so popular that since June of 2009, when the Great Recession was supposed to have officially ended and economic growth resumed, 4.7 million of us had enrolled in SSDI or SSI programs. By contrast, a mere 2.3 million jobs have been added over that same period.
This is well worth reading.