[E]ven if you are unemployed you still receive a base amount of [vacation money] from the government, the reasoning being that if you can’t go on vacation, you’ll get depressed and despondent and you’ll never get a job.After a year and a half of living in the Netherlands, American writer Russell Shorto compares the Dutch "welfare state" to the tax, health care and social security systems of the United States.
But does the cartoon image of [the Dutch system] — encapsulated in the dread slur "socialism," which is being lobbed in American political circles like a bomb — match reality? Is there, maybe, a significant upside that is worth exploring? [...] I think it’s worth pondering how the best bits might fit.
In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda In Southern California 1933 - 1945, a digital exhibition from the Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge. "The Nazi Propaganda period, 1933 to 1945, chronicles a crucial twelve years in American history. This exhibit's story about the local threat to American ideals demonstrates how European events reached across the ocean and affected people in Southern California -- in our own backyard." Magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, stickers and more. [more inside]
The Average Man's Tax Dollars from thetoiletpaper.com
The End of Christian America. The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades. How that statistic explains who we are now—and what, as a nation, we are about to become.
Open For Questions. Metafilter's Own™ box and klangklangston "skim the White House's Open For Questions, posting the best and brightest queries the American public can manage." [via mefi projects] [more inside]
“There’s culture shock, and then there’s the culture shock of moving to a country that started a war in your home.”
"The war has uprooted 4.7 million people from their homes. So where are they?" With the election of Obama and the economic crisis, the topic of Iraq has fallen by the wayside. As hard as things may be right now, Iraqis have been going through far worse for years now. If you're curious about what they have to say, hear them tell it in their own words. Iraqi Refugee Stories. [more inside]
What has long been touted as the world's longest undefended border (that running between Canada and the United States) has undergone many changes since 9/11. In an effort to secure its Northern border, the U.S. now employs Predator drones, Blackhawk helicopter patrols, high speed boats, and Google searches. There may even be a big fence in our future. More troubling still are increased demands for information on Canadian citizens, and increased searching powers of U.S. border guards. And don't ask them to say please either.
A new report by the Pew Center of the States finds that 1 in 31 U.S. Adults is currently under Community Supervision. (Full report pdf). Georgia currently tops the charts, with 1 in 13 adults under correctional control. [more inside]
" ... the recession, particularly if it turns out to be as long and deep as many now fear, will accelerate the rise and fall of specific places within the U.S.—and reverse the fortunes of other cities and regions." From The Atlantic Online - How the Crash Will Reshape America
The Top 10 Rightblogger Stories of 2008. Can it really have been almost two months since the U.S. presidential election? It seems like a long time ago that bloggers on the right were claiming Obama killed his grandmother and denouncing WALL-E, but this list does a pretty good job of summarizing what got them all riled up in 2008.
America has come a long way. There is the official version of history or the peoples' version. There are artifacts and rankings. They had some quirks and were occasionally men of their time. If you prefer audio or visual references those are available as well. Common knowledge has it that one GW was our first President but the title of first is under dispute. 230 years later another GW is making a run for worst. That is also under dispute by the nations best brains. For better and worse, the story of the Presidency is the story of America.
Team Lioness is the name given to a group of female soliders, (and the documentary about them) who were some of the first women in modern American warfare to engage in frontline combat — something that is officially forbidden by the military. "The female support soliders were assigned to the 1st Engineer Battalion and they were recruited to accompany Marine units during raids. Originally, the female soldiers were there to search and detain any women they came upon and to guard the unit's Arabic interpreter. Over time, however, as the situation in Ramadi deteriorated, the Marine units transitioned into a more offensive role, baiting insurgents into firefights in order to draw them out. Until officers higher up the chain got spooked over the possibility of a female soldier killed in combat and quietly disbanded the unit, members of Team Lioness were often right in the thick of things, including some of the fiercest urban firefights of the Iraq War."
"US helicopter raid" in Syria. Could this be an October Surprise? Many have hinted this election's October Surprise will be the capture of Osama Bin Ladin or a resurgence of terrorist activity. As we recall, news media had jumped on a McCain Aide who claimed a terrorist attack would benefit McCain in the Election.
The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 — Authorized and funded by the U.S. government, six ships sailed with 346 men (including officers, crew, scientists, and artists) on a four-year scientific and surveying mission, logging 87,000 miles around the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Two ships and 28 men were lost, and the Expedition's contentious commander Charles Wilkes was court-martialled for his erratic behavior, and was sued by former officers and crew members. During the Civil War in 1861, he boarded a British ship, seized two Confederate agents, and nearly provoked military retaliation by England (he was court-martialled once again in 1864 for insubordination.) Wilkes' 1845 Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition and the Ex. Ex.'s journals were published by Congress, and some 40 tons of Expedition specimens and artifacts became the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution's collections. [Nathaniel Philbrick (video lecture) chronicles this almost-forgotten voyage in his 2003 book Sea of Glory (NYT review).]
Retiring hedge fund manager Andrew Lahde: "All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America."
The Iron Heel, published a century ago this year, is a novel by Jack London about socialist revolution in the United States. It is set mostly between 1912 and 1932, with a foreword and numerous footnotes written from the point of view of a historian who has just discovered the manuscript some 700 years later. Here is an excerpt (which is printed on the back cover of some editions) from chapter five:
"This, then, is our answer. We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words--Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power."
As we approach Nov. 4, I'm reminded that an estimated 5.3 million Americans are prohibited from voting because of a felony conviction. The ACLU breaks it down by state.
As simple as a typo. Your vote in the 2008 U.S. election won't [2:00-9:00] count if voter caging parties can help it. Vote caging works basically like this - (1) Send do-not-forward mail to the address listed on your registration. (2) If it comes back return to sender, your registration is challenged and can be thrown out without notice. "A challenged voter will likely cast a provisional ballot....Nearly a third of all 1.6 million provisional ballots cast in 2004 were thrown out." Previously (somewhat). [more inside]
A People's History for the Classroom [pdf] is a high school history lesson plan/workbook based on Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. The entire 124-page workbook available for free as a downloadable PDF, as part of the Zinn Education Project, supported by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. You must enter an email and agree to take a later survey to download.
Humorist and candidate for the US Senate for Minnesota Al Franken draws a map of the United States from memory.
WWJD (Which Words Jefferson Digested) Some Flash
50 Bands, 50 States: The Boston Phoenix declares the best all-time band, best all-time solo artist, and best new band from each state. [more inside]
In honor of the Fourth, I give you the 50 States and their Capitals, the U.S. Presidents, and in hopes for a better future, what the hell, all the Nations of the World. [more inside]
Stemming from a lawsuit that has gone on for several years, a recent Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. government must make bills with distinguishable tactile features to benefit the blind. While the U.S. government disagrees, the judges say: "The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there's no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible." Not all blind people agree with the decision. [more inside]
The Rise of the Rest. Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek article about a "post-American" world.
On Having A Black Name "I am a white woman, a blond, blue-eyed white woman, and I have a first name strongly associated with black women. My mother, a southerner by birth, never stopped telling me she made the name up. The fact that she truly could not remember ever hearing the name before, is a testament to the strength of southern segregation. It is likely she heard it once or twice, and simply forgot it until later. And so, even at 50 years old, I have a name that makes people do a double-take. "You're _____?" is something I have heard all my life. "Yes, that would be me," is what I say, as they look confused. I have upset the social order. Names, I have learned, are a big, big part of it."
Slavery in the North is a website covering the 200-year history of slavery in the northern colonies in what would become the United States.
Alberta voted on March 3, 2008. Or did it? The record low turnout of 41.3% is causing questions to be asked. [more inside]
Did you know that two weeks ago - last Valentine's Day - a pact was signed in Texas allowing cross-border military activity between Canada and the US? I'd supply more links but there's not much out there.
"The "American Intervention in Northern Russia, 1918-1919," nicknamed the "Polar Bear Expedition," (wikipedia) was a U.S. military intervention in northern Russia at the end of World War I." The ostensible purpose was to open an Eastern Front following the Russian withdrawal from World War I, but in practice the unit stayed to fight Bolshevism. An archive of the expedition, which gives wonderful insight into early Bolshevik Russia as well as war-weary United States, is online. [more inside]
Links to the landlord-tenant law of every state in the US from Consumerist. [more inside]
I do not plan on voting for or against any US legislation not directly related to Texas Independence
Texan Larry Kilgore is running for a seat in the US Senate. Agree or disagree with the man, he certainly has the courage of his convictions.
The Union is Dissolved! Or, at least it will be, if these unusual allies have their way. While waiting for the results of the Second North American Separatist Convention, you can read up on the separatist groups who attended the first convention last fall.
Secret U. S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations. The New York Times has a 4000-word report today on secret Justice Department opinions--never previously disclosed--authorizing severe interrogation methods. Congress has outlawed cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; in response, Justice declared that the CIA's most extreme interrogation methods are not cruel, inhuman, and degrading. These secret opinions, issued in 2005, are still in effect. Most lawmakers did not know they existed. White House response: "This country does not torture."
The US Clean Air Act makes it illegal to sell highly environmentally-friendly cars in 42 states. Apparently.
The United States and the European Union have agreed to expand a security program that shares personal data about millions of U.S.-bound airline passengers a year. Information that potentially can be used includes "racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership" and data about an individual's health, traveling partners and sexual orientation. "Even a request for a king-size bed at a hotel could be noted in the database." "E.U.'s privacy supervisor expressed 'grave concern' over whether the rules 'will be fully compatible with European fundamental rights,' calling the arrangement 'without legal precedent.'"
Why not celebrate our Independence Day with the violent overthrow of the government? Some say they want a revolution, others would rather secede. Should we stay or should we go?
"In 2003, Americans spent an estimated US$5,635 per capita on health care, while Canadians spent US$3,003... Canada’s single-payer system, which relies on not-for-profit delivery, achieves health outcomes that are at least equal to those in the United States at two-thirds the cost." What do wealthy, educated Americans living in Canada think?
The Third View project is a fascinating presentation of "rephotographs" of over 100 historic landscape sites in the American West that presents original 19th-century survey photographs, photographed again in the 1970s, then once again in the '90s - from the original vantage points, under similar lighting conditions, at (roughly) the same time of day and year. [Flash, and you'll probably need to allow pop-ups; a little more info inside...]
Even the Vatican now affirms that Galileo was right, even if it did take them more than three centuries to admit it. The latest General Social Survey has been released, and nearly twenty percent of Americans haven't yet gotten the clue. Is it the crazification factor at work? More commentary here, here, and here.
Dinos' might in army sights. The Comanche National Grasslands located near The Sex Change Capital of the World is under threat by an expanding Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site [attached to Fort Carson]. Home to countless fossils, and Native American cave art, the Purgatoire River could end up like The Stronghold Unit of the Badlands in South Dakota with one of the largest dinosaur tracks site in the world damaged or destroyed and rendered inaccessible to scientists.
Hear our demands: give us back New York. Just think of the possibilities! Join the struggle. Or else.
Maryland joins the ranks of states attempting to thwart the electoral college. Maryland's General Assembly approved a bill [PDF] to ignore the U.S. Electoral College [official website] in presidential elections, instead awarding the state's 10 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. [via | previously on MeFi | more inside]