Too Much Going On...

I had to start with the Pretty Picture today, because I couldn't pick just one story below to talk about, so enjoy the picture and then check out the links.

But let's first get out in the open the one I have next to know information about: US launches strikes against Syria

  • Library Land
    • Why Authoritarians Attack the Arts "We need the arts because they make us full human beings. But we also need the arts as a protective factor against authoritarianism. In saving the arts, we save ourselves from a society where creative production is permissible only insofar as it serves the instruments of power. When the canary in the coal mine goes silent, we should be very afraid — not only because its song was so beautiful, but also because it was the only sign that we still had a chance to see daylight again."
    • Telling Trump’s Story to Children: For Book Publishers, It’s Tricky  "After an election cycle whose divisive effect on voters is still being felt, publishing books for classroom use has been unusually perilous. For Ms. Sutinis, the difficulty went beyond the time crunch to finding concise quotations from Mr. Trump’s campaign appearances that didn’t include contentious remarks." Tricky.
    • How “News Literacy” Gets Web Misinformation Wrong "...[W]e need a web literacy that starts with the web and the tools it provides to track a claim to ground. As we can see from the confusing and confused reactions of students in the Checkology program, that’s not happening now, and 'news literacy' isn’t going to fix that."
      • Somewhat related, but from a very different angle: This Is Not Fake News (but Don’t Go by the Headline) "Fake news — a neologism to describe stories that are just not true, like Pizzagate, and a term now co-opted to characterize unfavorable news — has given new urgency to the teaching of media literacy. Are Americans less able to assess credibility? Can they discern real news from disinformation?... In a paper to be published this spring, Dr. Mihailidis explores the creation and spread of fake news and argues that media literacy as currently conceived may not solve the problem."
  • Health, Science, & Technology
    • Trump’s EPA moves to dismantle programs that protect kids from lead paint  "Environmental Protection Agency officials are proposing to eliminate two programs focused on limiting children’s exposure to lead-based paint, which is known to cause damage to developing brains and nervous systems....In a 2014 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 243,000 children had blood lead levels above the danger threshold — and that permanent neurological damage and behavior disorders had been associated at even lower levels of lead exposure." Yeah, who needs to worry about that, anyway?
    • Twitter Sues Homeland Security To Protect Anonymity Of 'Alt Immigration' Account

      The lawsuit from Twitter alleges that DHS demanded to know the name, login information, phone number, mailing address and IP address of the user behind the account and threatened that failure to comply could lead to court actions.
      Twitter also says DHS "requested" that the company not reveal the existence of the summons. Twitter did not comply with either the summons or the request for silence — instead, the company is asking a federal court to declare the summons "unlawful and unenforceable."
  • Randomnesses
    • The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus  It's so true it hurts. The "prosperity gospel" is the biggest heresy of our time; it's really disgusting.
      • Related: What Would Jesus Disrupt? "For two days, the crowd sits in darkness in plush theater seats, watching the church stage. There are smoke machines and LED screens, harnessed climbers scaling a scaffold 'mountain' and raising their arms in symbolic victory over the startup world’s arduous climb. There’s talk of destiny-defining 'exits.' Of Jesus and his disciples: 'The most successful startup in history!' Of the parable of the talents, in which two servants are lauded by their master for turning a profit with money he staked them: 'The first recorded instance of venture capital and investment banking in history!' Of ancient business elites: 'A church is the oldest marketplace in the history of the world.' Of the promised land of angel investing, where divinely inspired entrepreneurs dwell: 'Because God creates things, too!' Mark Burnett, the producer of The Apprentice and Shark Tank, shows up to remind everyone that 'the Bible is full of merchants and people doing work.'" 
  • International
    • Haley threatens 'our own action' in Syria if UN doesn't act I was pretty convinced WWIII would start in North Korea, after all - but then Syria made a move to take the lead again. It might come down to how strong Trump's relationship with Russia really is:  "Haley, who is also the UN Security Council president, was speaking as the council considers a resolution condemning the Assad regime for the attack, which killed dozens, including many children. Russia, which backs the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has troops in Syria, is likely to veto the resolution. 'How many more children have to die before Russia cares?' Haley said, leaving her presidency chair as she displayed photos of the victims."
    • Young girl found living with monkeys in northern India  "Initial psychological assessments he said indicated that she had probably had early human contact before living with monkeys but it was difficult, for now, to determine the time frame. 'The fact that she is responding to humans shows that she has some memory of living with them,' Mr Lal said." Wow...I hope they find her family soon... 
  • U.S. News
    • Minimally Invested  "Perhaps a person in deep poverty would feel differently, but the point that hit me was how truly little $6 is. And I'd like to think it's not just very little money to us because we're middle income urban hipsters. It's just not much, period.... Six dollars, to all but the totally destitute, would very quickly be judged in economic terms, 'Not worth an hour of my time.' It strikes me as at or below the amount of money one could make panhandling or collecting returnable aluminum cans for an hour or two.... If you think about minimum wage employment in terms of actual dollars, it's not at all difficult to come to the conclusion that regardless of whether one is comfortable financially or at the poverty line it would be hard to look at the prospect of working to bring home $180 per week and thinking, 'What's the point?'"
    • Senate Republicans Deploy ‘Nuclear Option’ to Clear Path for Gorsuch "In deploying this so-called nuclear option, lawmakers are fundamentally altering the way the Senate handles one of its most significant duties, further limiting the minority’s power in a chamber that was designed to be a slower and more deliberative body than the House.  The move, once unthinkable among senators, is a testament to the creeping partisan rancor in recent years, after decades of at least relative bipartisanship on Supreme Court matters. Both parties have warned of sweeping effects on the court itself, predicting the elevation of more ideologically extreme judges now that only a majority is required for confirmation."
      • Related: The legislative filibuster will be at risk now that the Senate has gone nuclear Oh, sure, McConnell says he's not going to blow up the legislative filibuster, but - "Five years ago, McConnell said he would not invoke the nuclear option for Supreme Court nominees. Back then, he called it 'one of the most cherished safeguards of liberty in our government—the right of a political minority to have a voice.' Now he argues that doing so will be good for the Senate."
    • Donald Trump Kicks Off Sexual Assault Awareness Month By Defending Bill O’Reilly Not really a surprise, given Trump's own history: "More than a dozen women have accused Trump himself of sexual assault. Trump called them liars and threatened to sue them after the 2016 presidential election ended, but so far has taken no legal action. The Washington Post unearthed a video in October of Trump claiming he can grab women 'by the pussy' because he is a celebrity. He dismissed the comment, which was made in 2005, as 'locker room talk.'" 


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