Category Archives: Politics

Wasteful Coffee Maker Anti- Competitive, Too

Keurig - Wasteful Coffee Maker Anti-Competitive, Too

So Keurig, amiright?

Green Mountain Coffee, the makers of those increasingly ubiquitous Keurig single-cup coffee machines, will be including digital rights management (DRM) in their next generation product (creatively called Keurig 2.0). This means that every time you pop a plastic pod into the machine, it will look for a tiny chip emitting a tiny radio signal that will let the coffee maker’s onboard computer know whether it is okay — with the company, not with you — to brew.

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Thanksgiving Thoughts: Hunger and the Holidays

As of November 1 — just in time for Thanksgiving — Federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been drastically reduced. The program had been living on funds from the 2009 stimulus for a while now, and absent the willingness of Congress to appropriate money for hunger relief, families receiving aid have seen their food stamps slashed by an average of $36 per month.

Now that doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot of cash. But here, according to the Daily Kos, is what $36 per month buys:

a gallon of milk, a pound of broccoli, a pound of bananas, a dozen eggs, and a pound of spaghetti every single week. Or two pounds of chicken legs, two pounds of rice, a pound of apples, a pound of tomatoes, and two pounds of iceberg lettuce.

Food banks and other charitable organizations are left trying to make up the difference. But the difference, according to this piece at CNN, is something like $5 billion. The charitable system can’t make up such a loss, one food-bank director in New Jersey told the Daily Kos. To put it bluntly, we can’t come in and make up $90 million across the state. We just can’t.

And that’s where all of us come in. Charity alone cannot close the hunger deficit in the United States this Thanksgiving. But every little bit counts. What I am posting here are links to the donation pages for my local hunger relief organization, Philabundance, and for one of leading national hunger relief charities, Feeding America.

It doesn’t really matter which you choose, as long as you choose to give. Charity may not solve the problem, but it will certainly help somebody have a happier Thanksgiving in 2013.

A Brief, Literary Explanation of the Impending Debt Ceiling Confrontation

“I couldn’t forgive him them or like him them but I saw that what he they had done was, to him them, entirely justified.  It was all very careless and confused.  They were careless people, Tom and Daisy Congress — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made….”

F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby (1925).

The Government Shutdown, in a Single Quotation

The Government Shutdown, in a Single Quotation

There’s more than enough recrimination to go around, this morning, for the Federal Government shutdown.

Speaker John Boehner took to the floor of the House of Representatives, last night, and tried out his impression of President Obama (video) — literally; I kid you not — who apparently told the speaker on the telephone: I’m not going to negotiate. I’m not going to negotiate — I’m not going to do this.

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Massachusetts’ Experiment in Open Debates

The Open Debate Process

So — Massachusetts’ fifth congressional district is throwing a special election.

This in itself isn’t news. Earlier this year, Ed Markey, who had long represented Eastern Massachusetts in the House of Representatives, was elected to the Senate to fill the seat that John Kerry vacated when he was appointed Secretary of State. By law, Governor Deval Patrick has one hundred sixty days to line up a replacement. And so, on December 10, folks in Middlesex, Suffolk, and Worcester Counties will come out, cast votes, and send someone new to the least popular institution in the United States.

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Restoring the Fourth on the Fourth of July

Restore the Fourth

Folks in the United States: I don’t know what you all did for the Fourth of July, but Sarah and I were in Philadelphia’s Washington Square Park — and then on the march — to support Restore the Fourth (#restorethe4th).

For folks who don’t know, Restore the Fourth is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-violent movement, the purpose of which is to demand that the government of the United States of America adhere to its constitutionally dictated limits and respect the Fourth Amendment. It was formed, in part on Reddit, in response to recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance initiatives: the monitoring of telephone conversations, and the PRISM electronic snooping program that was revealed by Edward Snowden. And it has the backing of civil libertarians and libertarian libertarians, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Senator Rand Paul (not really a libertarian libertarian, but plays one on TV).

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Note From a Friend Re: #OccupyGezi

#OccupyGezi Timeline

As most of you surely know, Turkey has been experiencing civil unrest since May 28th, when riot police in Istanbul forcibly evicted peaceful protesters from Taksim Gezi Park. The protesters had been there objecting to a plan that would level the park and replace it with a shopping mall. But after the eviction, and after the police violence that came with it, protests spread to cities across the country, and their cause came to encompass a wide range of concerns, at the core of which were issues of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and the government’s encroachment on Turkey’s secularism.

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Defending Jim Daly

Via The Field Museum Library

Shame on you Daily Kos. And shame on you Kaili Joy Gray. I never thought in a million years that I’d be in a position where I felt the need to defend Jim Daly of Focus On the Family, but here we are. Daly has stuck his neck out — distanced himself (even if it […]

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Let’s Please Politicize Tragedy

At least twice, now, in 2012, we in the United States have been subjected to two mass shootings in a two-week span. The first was mere days ago, when 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts donned a hockey mask and an assault rifle, and began firing into a crowd at a Portland, Oregon shopping mall. By some […]

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Mitch McConnell, Fair-Weather Patriot

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

On the day that fair-weather patriotism was redefined, we all looked on at the Republican leadership, mouths collectively agape, too flabbergasted to respond. I should (dear readers!) be hard at work on my end-of-semester grading. But when this piece from Talking Points Memo came across my Reader feed this morning, it stopped me dead in […]

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