On December 19th, Ford closed the doors of their St Paul auto plant, ending 800 jobs and 86 years of history. The plant was closed as part of Ford's move to end the Ford Ranger in North America, a truck that will still be available overseas. Born of the 80s gas crisis, the Ranger has been Ford's compact truck for almost forty years. Ford blames demand for large trucks and the shrinking gap in price between the compact and full-sized truck markets, spurring concern about the future of the compact truck market in North America.
The US National Insitutes of Health recently filed notice of a prospective grant to give an exclusive license to New York based Kannalife for Development of Cannabinoid(s) and Cannabidiol(s) (i.e. marijuana) Based Therapeutics To Treat Hepatic Encephalopathy in Humans. Toke of The Town covers the issue, including an interview with Kannalife CEO Dean Pethanas.
39 years ago today, Apollo 17 splashed down in the South Pacific, marking the end to manned exploration of the Moon. What we learned from those 10 years of discovery was amazing. [more inside]
"Imagine 12 men in a dorm all in diapers and sitting in their own feces," he says. "It smelled like a combination of what people had for lunch that day and pus from people's open wounds. I've been in a wheelchair now for three years, and the jail is by far the worst place I've ever seen for a disabled person." -- L.A. Weekly on "Wheelchair Hell" in the L.A. County Men's Jail
The Nation's William Deresiewicz looks at Ann Beattie's evolution as a writer.
Today is the third anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. And India, tired of waiting, wants answers. [more inside]
Makes very little difference what happens, the next ten years, because the main thing in the universe isn’t at all affected by these little shifts of anthills, musics, nations, marriages. Let Allen Ginsberg inform your Sunday afternoon. [more inside]
The Awl takes a look at how Twitter has allowed local slang to go global, and the unhappiness this causes for some.
There has been a noticeable uptick in the use of the word "vagina" in network TV shows, reports the NY Times.
The Percentages: A Biography of Class. An autobiographical essay about growing up in the working class (as the author defines it) and then meeting the middle class (again, as the author defines it). This is so far outside my experience that I can't even summarize it properly, but it's worth reading.
"I wonder whether the endless fake cultural wars around identity politics are the main reason we have been able to ignore the tech slowdown for so long." - Peter Thiel, The End of the Future [more inside]
Cruel America: It appears that no one is so unfortunate that he or she is exempt from spending cuts, while at the same time no one is so fortunate as to be ineligible for a tax cut.
In October 1870, as American Jews were observing the High Holidays, The Atlantic Magazine published an article called "Our Israelitish Bretheren." 'At the time, it served as a sort of crash course about a tiny, mystifying minority. Today, it survives as something quite different: a snapshot of a transitional moment in Jewish history.' Written by American biographer, James Parton -- the founder of American Heritage magazine.
'Few Americans today can name more than one or two current boxers, but boxing once stood at the center of American life. It has become a ghost sport, long discredited but still hovering in the nation’s consciousness, refusing to go away and be silent entirely. But there was a time when things were very different. Boxing's history winds a thread through the broader history of the nation.'
"Change Proposed for State's Electoral Vote Process." Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that Pennsylvania divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. Talking Points Memo says that under the proposed plan Obama would have received only 11 of the state's 20 electors in 2008; Dave Weigel and Nick Baumann say gerrymandering could mean that in 2012 Obama could actually wind up with a minority of the state's electors even if he carries the state. GOP-led legislatures in other states, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, could make similar moves. But could this be a bridge too far for some members of the state's GOP caucus? [more inside]
U.S. Poverty Rate, 1 in 6, at Highest Level in Years (NYT) - An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch. That represented 15.1 percent of the country. The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four. (related)
"World War II has immesurably magnified the Negro's awareness of the disparity between the American profession and practice of democracy." During WWII, the armed forces were still marked by segregation of troops, with black troops often led solely by white officers, there were many instances of violence against African-American troops as well as general discrimination. While many African-American troops were serving with honor and some with particular levels of distinction, a stateside newspaper - the Pittsburgh Courier - began the "Double V" campaign: "Democracy: Victory at Home, Victory Abroad" after printing a letter from a reader asking "Should I Sacrifice To Live ‘Half American?’". The response from the community was overwhelming. Many people, not just activists, latched onto the campaign and made it a huge success for the community, helping to lay the ground work for the beginnings of the post-war Civil Rights movement.
"I finally said, you know what, I'm going to tell my story. The first American injured in the Iraq war is a gay Marine. He wanted to give his life to this country." ~Eric Alva, 40, former Marine and veteran of Operation Iraqi FreedomTell: An Intimate History of Gay Men in the Military [more inside]
From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeing — foreign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives. [more inside]
The job market is saturated and graduates are unable to get hired anywhere to get proper training. Law professors Richard Rhee and Bradley Borden have a solution: law schools should open their own law firms.
Poverty may be miserable. But being able to feel a bit better-off than someone else makes it a bit more bearable. Economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggest that people near the bottom end of financial inequity are less likely to be in favour of programs that will help increase their income if those programs will also help those lower on the scale than they are.
...the authors of the new paper argue that people don’t like to be at the bottom. One paradoxical consequence of this “last-place aversion” is that some poor people may be vociferously opposed to the kinds of policies that would actually raise their own income a bit but that might also push those who are poorer than them into comparable or higher positions. The authors ran a series of experiments where students were randomly allotted sums of money, separated by $1, and informed about the “income distribution” that resulted. They were then given another $2, which they could give either to the person directly above or below them in the distribution. The people who were a spot away from the bottom were the most likely to give the money to the person above them..This may also explain why Warren Buffet's cry to stop coddling the rich (previously) will continue to fall on deaf ears.
Lt. Gen. Russell Honore has a solution to the increasing splintering and radicalization of Congress: send all the members of Congress to boot camp and keep them there until they recognize their duty to America.
Divorce rates are higher than ever? Think again. A large majority—92%—of children whose families make more than $75,000 a year live with two parents (including step-parents). At the bottom of the income scale—families earning less than $15,000—only 20% of children live with two parents. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.
Obesity Epidemic Grows: [CNN.com] "Two-thirds of all adults and about a third of all children and teenagers in the United States are overweight or obese according to a report release Thursday by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). According to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011,"[PDF] adult obesity increased in 16 states during the past year and rates soared to 30% or more in these 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Four years ago, only one state - Mississippi - had an adult obesity rate of more than 30%. No state showed a decrease in it obesity rate in Thursday's report."
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
Copa América is streamed live on YouTube. Copa América is the oldest international football competition, having been held first in 1916. This is a contest between the 10 South American nations and two invitational teams, this time Costa Rica and Mexico, who both sent young squads (Japan was slated to take part but withdrew due to the earthquake). The tournament started yesterday with Bolivia unexpectedly managing to hold Argentina to a draw. Colombia are currently beating a 10-man Costa Rica 1-0. Brazil start their campaign tomorrow, against Venezuela. One of the world's premier football writers, Jonathan Wilson, wrote previews of the three groups, A, B and C. The Independent has more light-hearted team previews.
What does a post-American world look like? NPR interviews Fareed Zakaria on America's future role in world events.
Dan Savage speaks about the concept of monogamy.
The New Republic examines what they're calling "America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle" and asks, "What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?" [more inside]
Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists presents Fifty Years of Space Nuclear Power "A plutonium fueled RTG that was deployed in 1965 by the CIA not in space but on a mountaintop in the Himalayas (to help monitor Chinese nuclear tests) continues to generate anxiety, not electricity, more than four decades after it was lost in place. See, most recently, "River Deep Mountain High" by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan magazine, December 1, 2010." (MeFi previously)
"I had to stand in front of 92 people and say 'Not only do you not have a job anymore, you don't have a house anymore'". On June 20th, the United States Gypsum Corporation will shut down its plant in Empire, Nevada, the last Company town in America.
Stewart's Petrified Wood is a shop off of I-40 in Holbrook, Arizona with giant animatronic dinosaurs eating, and sometimes being ridden by, somewhat decrepit mannequins. Also, there's an ostrich farm. [more inside]
50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
I’d always dismissed the idea of human trafficking in the United States. I’m Indian, and when I went to Mumbai and saw children sold openly, I wondered, Why isn’t anything being done about it? But now I know—it’s no different here. I never would have believed it, but I’ve seen it.
"Americans maximize their... [happiness] by working, and Europeans maximize their [happiness] through leisure,"
Why America is the 'no vacation nation'. (CNN) -- Let's be blunt: If you like to take lots of vacation, the United States is not the place to work.
Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
Eyes of a Generation is a "virtual museum of television cameras, and the broadcast history they captured," curated by actor and radio DJ Bobby F. Ellerbee. The site has hundreds of photos of cameras and of television sets backstage. It also includes vintage articles and a neat look at how the moon backdrop on the Conan set works. [more inside]
Bill Moyers interviews David Simon "Again, we would have to ask ourselves a lot of hard questions. The people most affected by this are black and brown and poor. It’s the abandoned inner cores of our urban areas. As we said before, economically, we don’t need those people; the American economy doesn’t need them. So as long as they stay in their ghettos and they only kill each other, we’re willing to pay for a police presence to keep them out of our America."