Nel's New Day

July 20, 2013

Arrival of ‘1984’ & More

As a news junkie, I love the odd pieces from around the country. The most amazing story of the week is that new technology permits cable companies to install cameras and microphones in their cable boxes that allow companies to watch people while they watch television. For a long time, comedians have joked about looking at their television audience; now it’s possible. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) has introduced a bill, the We Are Watching You Act, to prohibit this technology on boxes without consumer permission. George Orwell’s 1984 has arrived. People afraid of airport scanners might want to take notice.

Although many people think that the media surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman exaggerated the importance of this tragedy, the conservative Internet source The Daily Caller carried its aftermath to a new dimension. The oddity began when the website sent 16-year-old Gabe Finger as its correspondent at the White House press conference.  When Jay Carney, WH press secretary, called on Finger, he asked this question:

“Because of the death threats being received by George Zimmerman and his parents, is the president going to take any action for their security or are they on their own?”

Carney respectfully answered Finger:

“Well, I think I would refer you to Florida authorities.  I’m not aware of that story.  But the President has called for echoing the statements of Trayvon Martin’s family for a calm reflection in the wake of the verdict.  And that continues to be his position.  He certainly would oppose any violence of any kind.”

Finger didn’t quit. “So they’re on their own?” he asked. Finger is sure to be preening about the attention that he received, not knowing that he has reduced any respect that this conservative site might have.

Last week Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade matched Finger’s stupidity with what he said after he hit a two-year-old boy in the face with a basketball. After a YouTube video showed Titus’s prowess with the hoop, he was invited on the program to demonstrate his ability. Kilmeade made a bad pass and caused Titus to cry and responded to the toddler’s distress by asking a co-host, “Do you really feel that I was at fault there or should have Titus had his hands up?”

Fox needs to stick with two-year-olds, though, because they fail with politics. Carl Cameron told Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday that Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) Oversight Committee hearing was going to result in important news tying the IRS scandals to the White House. The primary news from the hearing was J. Russell George’s admission that the IRS had also targeted “progressive” and “Occupy” groups for audits–no political motivation in also using “Tea Party,” “9/11,” and “Patriot.” Back-to-back hearings with five IRS officials proved no IRS auditing connection with President Obama. Issa’s investigation shows that George omitted critical information in his initial report about the so-called targeting. We’ll wait for Issa’s next manufactured scandal; the last three have failed miserably.

Columnist George Will is another person who should hang up his hat and quit. In a column earlier this month about the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg during the first three days of July 150 years ago, he talked about how “choices matter.” His reasoning led nowhere, but his descriptions were terrible. For example, he refers to Pickett’s Charge as “mostly a brisk 19-minute walk”—without explaining that this “walk” killed almost two-thirds of the Confederate soldiers at a rate of 2.33 per second.

From McDonalds and Visa come a ridiculous website to show low-wage workers making an average of $8.25 an hour or less how they can comfortably live in poverty. It even shows that they can save $100 a month. The process, however, has a few holes. First, their survival requires a second job of about 38 hours a week, making a 78-hour work week. Then the budget had no money for heating, food, or clothing. The monthly amount budgeted for health care was $20. McDonalds provides some full-time employees a $14 per week health plan, but the cap is for $10,000 a year. The budget for rent is $600 which doesn’t provide any place in New York which now has an average rent of $3,000 per month.

The website concludes, “You can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it.” Bloomberg News reported that the average McDonalds worker would have to work 1 million hours to match what the company’s CEO makes in one year. In the United States, the wealthiest 400 people have the same assets and income as the bottom 50 percent of those in the country. Worldwide, the assets and income of the wealthiest 300 is equal to the lowest 3 billion people. That’s the state of the country and the world.

Even if you can afford Internet access in Florida, it may be illegal. In an attempt to declare a ban on gaming in Internet cafes, the law defined these illegal slot machines as any “system or network of devices” that may be used in a game of chance. A lawsuit from a business owner shut down by the ban claims that it covers every smartphone and computer. The legislature may need to drag its focus away from “stand your ground” and voting restriction laws to allow the use of Internet in the state.

butter cowPeople who attend the Iowa State Fair on August 8-18 are in for quite a treat—even better than deep-fat fried butter on a stick. This year the butter cow sculpture has company: a depiction of Abraham Lincoln and the cross-country Lincoln Highway in Tama.

250px-Lincoln_Highway_Bridge,_Tama,_IAIt’s a 150-year celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address with the 100th anniversary of the opening the road from New York to San Francisco, one of the first transcontinental roads in the United States. The sculptures will require over 1,000 pounds of butter. I wonder how many people that would feed.

Even with their fixation on butter, white people in Iowa live healthier into old age than those in the South. Most maps show a dramatic difference between southern states and those in the rest of the country. This map shows how many years people can expect to be healthy after age 65. The extremes go from over 16 in Hawaii to fewer than 11 in Mississippi. Black Iowans have only seven years, one fewer year than blacks in Mississippi.

healthmap-e1374240125936

I’m glad I live in Oregon!

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