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Liberal Outrage

Girls Want Super Heroes, Too!

Damn skippy! Why can't girls get things like super hero squinkies, for example? Why's it all gotta be pink stuff?


I love when she gets so upset, she starts slapping her hands on a box in frustration. Also, that she's so tiny that the box is at the proportional height at which a table surface would be for an adult.

By min | December 28, 2011, 1:23 PM | Cute Things & Liberal Outrage | Link

Semantic arguments

Regardless of whether or not you think it merits the word "end", it's a fact that Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a privatized program.

See here, here, and here.

By fnord12 | December 20, 2011, 1:10 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Substantive debate

The debate on SOPA rages on:

The slog was briefly bogged down even further by an unintentionally ironic controversy of decorum involving a tweet sent by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) disparaging Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), reading "We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Sheila Jackson has so bored me I'm killing time by surfing the Internet."

Rep. Jackson-Lee admonished King in front of the committee, asking for him to apologize and saying she had "not heard of his ability multitask before," but that his tweet was "offensive." After a 20-minute period of bickering, Jackson-Lee was persuaded by colleagues to strike her use of the word "offensive" from the record.

By fnord12 | December 16, 2011, 12:04 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Buy Louis CK

Louis CK (who is awesome, btw) filmed a show at the Beacon Theater and made it available online for $5, DRM-free.

The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th. 12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of Today, we've sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58). This is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video. They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely. This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.

I really hope people keep buying it a lot, so I can have shitloads of money, but at this point I think we can safely say that the experiment really worked. If anybody stole it, it wasn't many of you. Pretty much everybody bought it. And so now we all get to know that about people and stuff. I'm really glad I put this out here this way and I'll certainly do it again.

Thus proving all those SOPA proponents wrong.

Fnord12 and i bought it and watched it last night. We laughed. If you like to laugh, you should buy this video, too.

By min | December 16, 2011, 10:08 AM | Liberal Outrage & TeeVee | Link

Good argument but it's all about who owns the congressmen

Matthew Yglesias takes on the anti-SOPA and Protect IPO argument from an economic angle:

It's no secret that high-end income inequality has increased substantially over the past several decades. That's happening for a variety of reasons. One reason, however, is that the returns to being a superstar content creator are much much higher in 2011 than they were in 1981. That's because the potential audience is much bigger. It's bigger because the world's population is larger, it's bigger because many poor countries have gotten significantly less poor, and it's bigger because the fall of Communism has expanded the practical market reach of big entertainment conglomerates. At the same time, the cost of producing digital media content has fallen thanks to improved computers and information technology. Now step back and ask yourself why we have copyright in the first place. Well, it's because policymakers think that absent government-created monopolies there won't be adequate financial incentives to go out and create new content. That's not a crazy thing to believe. But the implication is that if globalization and technology drive the the returns to content ownership up, we need less IP protection. Instead, we've consistently gotten more. Copyright terms have been extended. Copyright terms have been extended retroactively. We've added "anti-circumvention" rules. And now we're talking about SOPA and Protect IP. But why? What's the policy problem being addressed here?

Obviously the people who own copyrights would like to make more money. But should we care? Are we worried that movie stars aren't getting paid enough? They seem to get paid plenty. New albums are released. People write books. There are plenty of shows to watch on television. There's lots of great new video games and other kinds of software to use. Nor is there any reason to believe that perfect copyright enforcement is a desirable public policy goal. Perfect enforcement would imply massive deadweight loss. In the absence of serious evidence that the public is suffering from some kind of content drought, I think we have ample reason to oppose new strong IP rules even without any of these other concerns.

By "other concerns" he means things like free speech.

I do think he glosses over the effect that music piracy has had on actual artists. But i don't think passing a law that prevents people from singing along with their favorite song on YouTube helps with that, either.

By fnord12 | December 15, 2011, 2:53 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The junk mail must go through

USPS continues to struggle (via Balloon Juice):

Today, the Postal Service announced roughly $3 billion in service cuts that will slow down the delivery of first-class mail for the first time in 40 years. Starting in April, it plans to shutter more than half of its 461 mail processing centers, stretching out the time it will take to ship everything from Netflix DVDs to magazines. One-day delivery of stamped envelopes will all but certainly become a thing of the past.

The announcement is just the latest sign of a sad and increasingly dire fact: the Postal Service is in shambles. This past fiscal year, it lost a mere $5.1 billion. In 2012, it's facing a record $14.1 billion shortfall and possible bankruptcy. In order to turn a profit, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the agency needs to cut $20 billion from its annual budget by 2015. That's almost a third of its yearly costs.

Although total mail volume stayed relatively steady until 2006, it has dropped an astonishing 20 percent in the past five years. More important, first-class mail, the Postal Service's biggest moneymaker, has fallen 25 percent during the past decade. That's a huge problem for its bottom line. The agency now delivers far more "standard mail" -- what most of us call junk mail -- than first-class mail. According to Businessweek, it takes three pieces of junk to equal the earnings from a single stamped first-class envelope. J. Crew catalogs and pizza menus alone won't pay the bills.

I really don't understand why they don't eliminate the standard/bulk rate and charge first class rates for the garbage that companies send to us every day. Either the increased revenue will make the Post Office solvent again, or it will reduce the amount of garbage that winds up in our recycling bins. Sure, in that second scenario the Post Office will have to cut back on their workforce but that's happening anyway and as much as i don't want anyone to lose their job i don't think it's in the interests of the country to keep people employed just to deliver junk mail.

I think they'll eventually scale back to three or four days a week for regular delivery and a new focus on package delivery. They'll have to. But we shouldn't forget that a large part of the Post Office's problems are due to this:

At the very end of that year, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). Under PAEA, USPS was forced to "prefund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in an astonishing ten-year time span" - meaning that it had to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health benefits of employees it hasn't even hired yet, something "that no other government or private corporation is required to do."

By fnord12 | December 7, 2011, 9:13 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Sometimes i just link to Glenn Greenwald, part 2.

This is following up on min's post below.

Just some choice quotes from Greenwald:

...the 9/11 attack happened more than a decade ago; Osama bin Laden is dead; the U.S. Government claims it has killed virtually all of Al Qaeda's leadership and the group is "operationally ineffective" in the Afghan-Pakistan region; and many commentators insisted that these developments would mean that the War on Terror would finally begin to recede. And yet here we have the Congress, on a fully bipartisan basis, acting not only to re-affirm the war but to expand it even further: by formally declaring that the entire world (including the U.S.) is a battlefield and the war will essentially go on forever.

Indeed, it seems clear that they are doing this precisely out of fear that the justifications they have long given for the War no longer exist and there is therefore a risk Americans will clamor for its end. This is Congress declaring: the War is more vibrant than ever and must be expanded further.

Every GOP Senator (except Rand Paul and Mark Kirk) voted against the Udall amendment, while just enough Democrats - 16 in total -- joined the GOP to ensure passage of Levin/McCain. That includes such progressive stalwarts as Debbie Stabenow, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeanne Shaheen and its lead sponsor, Carl Levin.

I've described this little scam before as "Villain Rotation": "They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it." This has happened with countless votes that are supposed manifestations of right-wing radicalism but that pass because an always-changing roster of Democrats ensure they have the support needed.

But, with a few exceptions, the objections raised by the White House are not grounded in substantive problems with these powers, but rather in the argument that such matters are for the Executive Branch, not the Congress, to decide. In other words, the White House's objections are grounded in broad theories of Executive Power. They are not arguing: it is wrong to deny accused Terrorists a trial. Instead they insist: whether an accused Terrorist is put in military detention rather than civilian custody is for the President alone to decide.

By fnord12 | December 1, 2011, 5:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Sometimes i just link to Glenn Greenwald, part 1.


You've probably heard by now about the high school girl who tweeted something negative about Kansas Governor Brownback and then the Governor creepily complained about it, with the girl getting sent to the principal to try to force her to apologize. The Governor eventually backed away from the request, blaming overeager staff, but no staff were fired so i'm not too impressed with that. I am impressed with the girl's mom, who said:

I raised my kids to be independent, to be strong, to be free thinkers. If she wants to tweet her opinion about Governor Brownback, I say for her to go for it and I stand totally behind her.

Wow. That's great. But then there's Washington Post's Ruth Marcus (accurately described in the comments at the link above as, "the epitome of the Beltway Centrist Democrat, who sometimes serves as the "liberal" counterpoint to people like David Brooks, the conservative, on the PBS Newshour, where she sits next to him and agrees with nearly everything he says.").

Marcus says:

Emma Sullivan, you're lucky you're not my daughter. . . . If you were my daughter, you'd be writing that letter apologizing to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for the smart-alecky, potty-mouthed tweet you wrote after meeting with him on a school field trip. . . .

Also, that smartphone? The one you posed with, proudly displaying the tweet in which you announced that Brownback "sucked" and added the lovely hashtag #heblowsalot? Turned off until you learn to use it responsibly.

Of course, Sullivan has a First Amendment right to express her views -- although not unlimited.
The Constitution does not grant teenagers the fundamental right to have a cellphone or use foul language on it. The parental role is to inculcate values of respect for authority - even those you disagree with - and the importance of civil discourse. It's not to stand up for your little darling no matter how much she mouths off.

Kansas Mom really gives you some hope that we're not falling apart as a country, but when you realize that it's nitwits like Ruth Marcus who get to write for our national newspapers and appear on the talk shows, i worry that it's not enough.

By fnord12 | December 1, 2011, 4:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Mebbe That's Just How They Roll in PA

Remember those foreign students Hershey tricked into working in their little sweatshop? I thought, "Hershey's a Dick!".

Today, I found out Amazon's got a literal sweatshop in Lehigh, PA. Mebbe it's just the way things are in Pennsylvania. If you run a factory, you're expected to be a douche.

During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn't quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals. And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time.

An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an "unsafe environment" after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor's report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat.

That's right. They arranged for paramedics in anticipation of the inevitable heat stroke victims. It's not a war. You shouldn't have to set up a triage outside your building for your employees.

Reading further, you find out OSHA was called in, and they did a whole lot of nothing.

OSHA issued recommendations to Amazon Aug. 18 about how it could improve its heat-stress management plan and closed its inspection.

"Several conditions and practices were observed which have the potential to adversely impact on employee safety and health," OSHA's area director Jean Kulp said in a letter to Amazon.

The agency recommended that Amazon reduce temperatures and humidity in the warehouse, but did not give a target temperature. The agency also recommended that Amazon provide employees hourly breaks in a cool area, inform workers and supervisors of the actual heat index or temperature so that they can increase monitoring as it gets hotter, and provide personal fans at each work station.

OSHA does not mandate that work cease when temperatures exceed a specific degree. Instead, the agency gives employers guidelines about what they should do in specific ranges of the heat index.

So, basically, they wrote a letter and gave a bunch of suggestions to Amazon on what they ought to do to improve the situation in the warehouse, but they don't actually enforce anything. And from what I read in the article, it doesn't sound like they actually go back and check on things. They seem to rely on letters sent by the warehouse manager letting OSHA know what actions they've taken.

I understand this is what OSHA's become. They have no power. They aren't encouraged to really do anything to ensure the health and safety of workers. They're just pushing paper until they become a casualty of the "smaller government" advocates (it'll prolly be a Democrat trying to win over conservatives). I just think it's sad that they're so useless.

Stupid Amazon. Don't they know i have Christmas shopping to do? Why do they have to piss me off now? I should say "more", actually. Their Kindle DRM bullshit is annoying to say the least.

By min | December 1, 2011, 2:52 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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