Some Republicans Calling for a Government Shutdown

Some Republicans are so upset over the President’s immigration announcments on Thursday that they are suggesting that they are willing to shut down the U.S. government over this dispute. This despite the fact they agree that what the President has announced is perfectly legal.

I’d love to start a discussion about immigration, but that’s not my point right now. My point is that some Republicans are so upset over the President’s legal (and in my opinion, ethical) decisions that they would rather shut down the government than deal with it or actually fix our immigration system.

THEY WANT TO SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT!!!

This is just playing with the lives of all Americans, especially those who are employed by the government, or funded by a government agency. By the time we start talking about the impact on communities located near important, busy national parks, and all the government services that become unavailable, this is a major impact on ordinary people’s lives.

See, here’s the thing. If your livelihood depends in any way on the U.S. government, and the government shuts down, then you stop getting paid.* Indefinitely and without much warning. Somewhat like being laid off or fired. Except it’s worse than that, because if you’re laid off or fired, you can go look for another job. If the government shuts down, your job is still there, you just can’t work at it. So if you like your job, or the city you live in, and you start job hunting, then you face the possibility that you may be (and probably are) walking away from a job you like, maybe even love, that will be there again soon, and you may not find one that pays as well or you like as much. So you’re pretty much stuck with some unpalatable choices. Most people choose to wait it out. But that’s a drain on savings and stressful.

Given all that, Republicans threatening to shut down the government are, in my opinion, pushing the nuclear option. They can’t be bothered with negotiation, or finding another solution, or anything that actually requires work. Instead, they are like a little kid who doesn’t like the way the other kids are playing with the blocks. “I don’t like you or what you’re doing, so I’m going to take all the blocks and no one can play with them!” This is not acceptable in preschool, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to adults.

Dear Yahoo: Stop publishing sensationalistic, incorrect ‘news’

I really enjoy reading the news on Yahoo!. I like the way the home page is set up, I like the visuals, I like being able to get more news even when I check back frequently. But there is one thing about Yahoo!’s news that is annoying me more and more lately. Some (not all, but the amount seems to be increasing) of the articles posted are lacking in actual news content, and are posted solely for their sensationalistic qualities.

A partial list (of articles I actually read in the past 6 months or so):
Box Tops for Schools program is discontinued as of July 31, 2014
Vaccinating your children may cause them to catch Enterovirus D-68
Ebola is airborne, according to the CDC (this one is actually true, I think, but the article and headline were nothing but sensationalism — there was no scientific credibility involved)

There have been more, but I often don’t actually get sucked in to these articles, so these are the ones I can say were truly terrible. The first 2 in my list are outright lies.

I expect a news site to mix the important news in with more popular news, but I don’t expect the ‘news’ to be outright fabrications. I don’t mind my real news about current events being mixed with celebrity or sports news (I even occasionally read the latest celebrity gossip on Yahoo!), but I do mind a news site publishing things that are blatantly untrue and scientifically fraudulent.  Yahoo!, cut it out!

Don’t Care or Already Decided — Which Camp do you fall in for the November Election?

In my newspaper today was a column by Richard Cohen, arguing that the American people have been lulled to sleep by the presidential election. He claims that the only important issue is the economy, and that neither Obama nor Romney is terribly magnetic or charismatic, so people are not paying attention to the election and don’t care. He concludes,

This is a campaign of immense consequence and, paradoxically, torpor. It’s as if it is being conducted by men who will not — or cannot — control events but are waiting for events to control them. They campaign dutifully but dully, going through the motions until Election Day. Maybe then they’ll get the audience back. In the meantime, America has gone for a beer.

I would disagree with Mr. Cohen. I don’t think Americans are torpid, I think they have already made up their minds. Now, having decided, all they have to do is wait for November and vote. In the meantime, there is much more important stuff to do — finding and keeping employment and income in this terrible economy, housing and foreclosures, the hot weather, and summer vacations.

News Round-Up

Summaries of a few news and opinion stories from around the web that I found interesting:

Why you shouldn’t panic about pesticides in foods: Pesticide residues are generally at much lower levels than would be harmful. No mention is made of how pesticide use affects farmworkers. Notable quotation from the article: “No one should stop eating fruits and vegetables because of fears about pesticides.”

How To Stop Science Alienation Syndrome (Split K-12 science education into two tracks, for majors and non-majors): Instead of treating science and math as subjects that children either love or hate, and expecting all of them to pass the same classes, split classes, especially in high school, into specialized classes for children who want to become scientists, and general classes about science in every day life (in cooking, sports, and more) for everyone else.

Up to 27 million people living in slavery: The end of legal slavery did not end trafficking in people, and 27 million people around the world are forced to work for someone else in degrading conditions, deprived of their human rights.

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